The paper considers the roles played by pictures on the walls of standard, prefabricated apartments (khrushchëvki) built in cities across the Khrushchëv-era Soviet Union. It explores the intimate but sometimes problematic relation between hanging pictures and achieving a sense of self and belonging. The increasingly saturated ‘pictorialisation’ of the interior was hailed by Soviet authorities as a marker of progress, growing prosperity and rising cultural level of the Soviet people, but its relation to the passage of historical time was not unilinear, nor did it passively ‘reflect’ change. The selection and arrangement of pictures could tell more nuanced and contradictory stories about the past and present of those who chose to live with them on their walls, about their social relations, and about the complexities and contradictions of Soviet modernity. The apartment walls were a site for practices of memory and nostalgia, whereby the occupants produced themselves by ‘curating’ a selective past. Displays of pictures could also play a role in overcoming deracination and establishing an identification of self with home in the wider sense of ‘homeland’. At the same time, the culture of hanging pictures was subject to change over time and to social distinctions.
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