CONVERSATION IN THE KITCHEN I
Trailer 2'37'', Two-Channel Video, HD
The place where I lived in Riga is an old house with the style of former Soviet Union. The kitchen is crowed, inside there is a soft and scruffy sofa, a traditional cooking bench and a dining-table. The layout of the kitchen resembles the one in the last century very much. I am deeply impressed by this tiny, crowed but humane zone.
Gradually, I find that every day people will gather together and make conversations in the kitchen. They can share their daily life with each other or discuss philosophy and politics. Even in the cross-family parties, many people like to squeeze in the kitchen, standing, sitting or just leaning against the door. Just as the Second-hand Time describes, “The pitiful Khrushchyovka kitchenette, nine to twelve square meters, and on the other side of a flimsy wall, the toilet. Your typical Soviet floorplan. For us, the kitchen is not just where we cook, it’s a dining room, a guest room, an office, a soapbox. A space for group therapy sessions. In the nineteenth century, all of Russian culture was concentrated on aristocratic estates; in the twentieth century, it lived on in our kitchens. That’s where perestroika really took place. 1960s dissident life is the kitchen life. Thanks, Khrushchev! He’s the one who led us out of the communal apartments; under his rule, we got our own private kitchens where we could criticize the government and, most importantly, not be afraid, because in the kitchen you were always among friends. It’s where ideas were whipped up from scratch, fantastical projects concocted…”
I think it is the way people living in the reformation age of the former Soviet Union in the last century. At that time, kitchen was not a place to make food any longer. It integrated the practical functions of living room and dining room and became a place for entertainment and chat beside reformation. It also demonstrated that people of the former Soviet Union freed from busy work and returned to their family life and moreover, it became the most basic and the most important daily issue after leaving the identity of worker out for the moment. That is, the joviality gaining from cooking. Therefore, it further transformed into a social place. In this way, as a place for people to get together, the kitchen in the former Soviet Union style also became an ideal sample for anthropological sociology.
But when the private zone is transformed to a public one, where is the boundary? Does it indicate that people desire for freedom and openness for expression and discourse in a deeper way? I hope that when taking both natural landscape, which is de-powered, open and without the boundary between the public and the private, and social space into consideration, we can recognize and differentiate more clearly the social characteristics of the boundary of our behavior.