The Fun Archaeology



URSS Dembel album collection

This is a collection of 8 URSS Dembel photo Albums. Dembel Albums are a distinct phenomenon, they normally narrate the “journey to manhood” in photographs and drawings. Before demobilization, soviet soldiers created albums filled with photographs, drawings and texts. Like other types of album, they were means of memorialization, serving as a visual basis for recounting an individual’s time in the army. The autobiographic story animated still images, hence the message did not need to be made explicit, situations din not have to be imaginative and there was no need to capture the decisive moment. The album had to be made of a posh paper, the cover should would be sheathed in greatcoat, camouflage or red plush fabrics, decorates with an emblem made of gold foil, metal carving or inlays. The cover usually include the soldier’s name, years of service and the number of his military unit. Inside the story followed a certain pattern. The first page showed the summons of the army, the last page a cutting from the newspaper announcing the order of demobilization issued by the minister of defense. Indeed the album were traditionally made by young Soviet soldiers after the two years of compulsory military service. The contents, compiled from photographs, drawings and poetry, shifted between the emolument of the service to the homeland and longing for home, memories of “good old times” celebrating male camaraderie and ideological signed reinforced the adherence to the Soviet ideal collecting soldiers memories of the army and their life among the comrades.But the albums were produced documenting also somehow a reality that did not exist actually, because during the uneasy peace of the Cold War, there were no opportunity to exhibit heroism and camaraderie could form only among grandfathers who amused themselves by torture. Rather than fighting the enemy, soldiers performed useless tasks ordered by idle officers and invented violent jokes in their free time. Therefore Dembel albums were not so only tools of memory but also product of fiction that helped cope with the harsh reality in the barracks and kill time.

URSS Dembel album # 1

This album contains black and white pictures and colored cut outs of flowers, URSS military patches or symbols. Each page is a collage composition of photos and flowers or symbols. The pictures are mainly depicting single soldiers portraits, some military groups photos, few family picture in normal dresses and at the end the newspaper article from 1975 about the demobilization of the owner of the album. Each page is divided to the other by a snake leather like semitransparent paper. The cover of the album is a claret plastic, leather lookalike cover with white and blue representations of ships with a lama head, waves and a sort of fortified city with walls and towers. The album in composed by 21 pages and its dimension is 23,5 x 32,5 cm

URSS Dembel album # 2

The album is a composition of black and white pictures of soldiers, some cut colored postcards of places, many handmade decorations and collages made with colored cut outs of URSS military patches and flags. Each page is divided to the other by a spider net like semitransparent paper in which the author drew colored military figures or symbols and sighs. The military service period of this album is 1983-1985. The cover is blue, it presents a golden emblem and it is bound in a red rope. The album is composed by 20 pages and its dimension is 35,5 x 24,8 cm.

URSS Dembel album # 3

Black leather cover with red velvet with inscription of flowers and text. Binded with rope.Vintage black and white photography of the soldier and his comrades. Landscapes views, postcards in color of different cities where the soldier was based. Some photo’s with women. Rostock, Salzwedel, Postdam, Berlin. Transparent protection sheets with marker drawings of flowers, flags, typography, city views, man with women, airplanes, cars, train landscape with rabbit and bear. A typical Demobilisation press article of the soldier ends the album. Colored painting at the back of the book. 25 pages 32 x 22 cm dated 1974.

URSS Dembel album # 4

The album is composed by 19 pages which have been handmade with colored spray gun (yellow, red, orange and green and blue mainly) on black cardboards. Military vehicles like antenna trucks or airplanes have been drawn in the cardboard thanks to the stencil technique. Each page is divided to the other by a transparent sheet in which the author drew colored images from the military life, the majority of them are characterized by a comic strip and humorous style. Just the first five pages are filled with black and white pictures from the military life, collages of images and colored inscriptions in wool-felt fabric. It seems that the album has not been finished, indeed in the last page of the album, apart of presenting the image of a older official, there is a plastic bag containing few black and white pictures regarding the military life of the author and 2 porno images hidden inside a letter. The military service period of this album is 1987-1989. The cover is hairy, made of a sort of red fur and characterized by metal decoration and inscriptions. The dimension of the album is 34,5 x 26,5 cm.

URSS Dembel album # 5

A brown velvet album with red inscription featuring a color Group photo on the first page with handwritten names of each soldier of the navy army group.Color portrait of each of the sailor. Watercolor illustrations on the backdrop of each page. Illustrated ships on transparent protection paper in-between the pages. A loose vintage silver gelatin print of Stalin. 24 pages. 24 x 24 cm.

URSS Dembel album # 6

A navy blue velvet cover album with screw bindings. The album features some wool-felt typographical collages and handmade decorations of flowers outlined with coloured marker, a group of black and white portraits and a train landscape drawn with marker on wool-felt. A typical Demobilisation press article of the soldier ends the album. 32 pages. 26, 5 x 36,5 cm.

URSS Dembel album # 7

A light brown leather cover album with buffered inscriptions. The album features silver gelatin vintage photomontages in memory of a Soviet military service.Portrait photos with names and background of landscapes with illustrations of flags, airplanes, helicopters, boats and submarines. 38 pages. 20 x 29 cm.

URSS Dembel album # 8

A burgundy leather cover with golden and black patterns on the side. Dated 1975 to 1977. The album features silver gelatin vintage photomontages in memory of a Soviet military service.The first page of the album is handpainted with typography and drawings. Many Photocollage of badges and black and white portraits of the soldiers. Drawings made with coloured marker onto the transparent protection sheets showing airplanes and romantic scenery. 36 pages. 41 x 29,6 cm.