2021 (ongoing)
documentary film (60min)

A film about the the unlearning of the socialist way of living by meeting new capitalist constraints. Using video footage of my grandfather‘s home- and travel video archive from the 1990s.

The ambiguous title goes back to my grandfather‘s question at a Russian playground in 1996. As he pushes the swing, the Panasonic camcorder captures the bent metal bars of the swing. His words, ‚Aren‘t you afraid to swing on Russian swings? – Swing a little, feel the joy of life!‘ echo ambiguously as I reflect on their meaning 28 years later, during the making of the film and in the face of the current war.

Based on my grandfather’s home movie archive, containing over 400 hours of video material, this film is a personal examination of family memory in times of political crisis and uncertainty. It takes place right after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and illustrates a sort of recalibration process unfolding in the 1990s. A period marked by a grotesque back and forth of political and social forces, transmuting people‘s daily lives, cravings, homes, and wardrobes under the sound of rhythmic techno beats, bright colors, and foreign lettering.

In order to pave the way for democracy, communism has to be replaced by capitalism and thus consumerism?

“New people” sprang from the debris of the Soviet Union, as did new ways of life, new business opportunities, new social rules of the game. Originating in perestroika (‘restructuring’), the shuttle trade became the new booming survival concept throughout the post-Soviet territory. A mass phenomenon initiated by ordinary people as a reaction to the prevailing deficiencies and inefficiency of the collapsing state apparatus. A process of traveling in and out of the gradually opening borders providing loopholes to acquire goods to be sold at home for profit. People of all imaginable professions set out to foreign countries in search of potential top sellers.

My family belonged to the third wave of shuttle traders. Despite academic titles, my grandparents spent 13 years on the streets selling stuffed animals, and counterfeit brandname clothing from China.

Publication (32 pages) / designed by Stahl R
as part of the exhibition at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf 
Available on request or ISBN: 978-3-00-076441-7