Herwig began photographing and assembling bus awnings and tried to figure out who had made them and on whose behalf. The hobby turned into a long-term project when the Herwig family moved to Almaty in Kazakhstan and the field of photography expanded from the Caucasus and all other “stans” to Vladivostok. More than 50,000 kilometers were traveled in the former Soviet Union, resulting in two photo albums, both Soviet bus stops and a documentary of the same name from 2022, which took seven years to make.
There has been little documentation of the phenomenon of Soviet bus shelters, and thanks to Herwig’s remarkable perseverance, it has been mapped rather systematically, and a number of customers, designers and implementers have been tracked down after patient research. They talk in his movie The Road Soviet bus stops -Featured in the documentary series close up – How people worked at that time. No central planning was imposed from Moscow: local officials had a free hand. When building roads, the contractor was immediately required to build guard rooms, often in consultation with nearby factories, hospitals and schools. Artists, students and school children also participated under the simple slogan: Make something beautiful of it.
Since the car was a rare commodity in the Soviet Union for a long time, many people in the countryside also had to rely on bus transportation. Then the wait is made more enjoyable by an originally designed bus shelter decorated with mosaics, paintings or other local items – a kind of creative escape into the often dreary Soviet daily life. They may also have formed a silent and artistic resistance against imposed collectivism and monotheism.
In any case, the fact that they can be built and decorated in all shapes and sizes indicates that the communist state knew and allowed outlets. Anna Bronovitskaya, a professor at the Moscow Architectural Institute, explains it in the film as follows: “The farther away from the center we are, the less control there is. It is, of course, a huge area. You cannot arrange everything from one point. And there was nothing about that either.” [bushokjes] Published as People’s Art. It has been ignored.
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