Tag Archives: Body Impolitic

Estonian Soviet Sculpture

Laurie says:

I was going to write about an exhibit of prints by women that I saw in Estonia, and I’ll do that soon. But first, I saw a film there that really impressed me. I wasn’t planning to write about it but I decided it was very impressive, so I was lucky that Deb could find information about the film on the web, in an article by Farah Abdessamad.

Aldona is a short film by Lithuanian-born visual artist and filmmaker Emilija Škarnulytė.  The film is about her grandmother, Aldona, touching sculptures from Lithuania’s Communist past.

None of the Baltic republics give the Communist sculptures much room. A lot of them were originally toppled. In Estonia, they are on a small patch of ground behind a museum. In Lithuania, they are in Grūtas Park, which Abdessamad describes as “a socialist-realist sculpture graveyard garden not far from [Aldona’s] hometown. There, among the monumental relics of past Soviet heroes, Aldona tries to recognize and remember the silhouettes of Stalin, Lenin, and fallen soldiers from the Great Patriotic War.”

The movie was very powerful and really moved me. There was something amazing about how she touched the sculptures. Toward the end of the film, the filmmaker reveals that Aldona went blind after the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

I wanted to touch the sculptures and feel something like what she felt. Of course, since my eyes are fine, I knew it would be a very different experience.

But I still wanted to do it. So I went to the field behind the museum.

The shadow is me taking the photo. You might recognize the heads of Lenin. The rest of the sculptures, except one, are mostly people who where prominent Communists when Estonia was still occupied by Russia.

I closed my eyes and ran my hands over the sculptures. It was texturally amazing and emotionally unexpectedly intense.

One sculpture from the 20’s was really good art. It was made during a short period when Russians and Estonians were given some “breathing space,” when starvation and shortages were replaced by a free market economy and a jazz age splashed onto the streets of the Russian cities.  This created a brief period of really fine radical art and,(not surprisingly), Stalin ended it. I was delighted to see something from that historical moment.

It’s a military sculpture and I took several photos of it.

As usual, click on the photos to get the best images.


I’m delighted that this film is available on the internet. I hope you will watch it for yourself.

Thanksgiving: Rays of Light in Hard Times

Picture of one of the newly found deep sea coral reefs

Laurie and Debbie say:

Beyond a doubt, we are living in very hard times. That only makes the good news in the world — and there is a lot of it — more important. We can appreciate and enjoy the victories and improvements without denying the rest — and, for people in the U.S., Thanksgiving is a day to do that.

Let’s start with the U.S. elections earlier this month, which were a stunning victory for abortion rights, and a stunning defeat for book banners, anti-trans haters, and the enemies of democracy. The list of victories is far too long to list here, and spans much of the country. The highlights include the landslide passage of Issue 1, amending the Ohio constitution to make abortion legal; Democratic control of both houses in Pennsylvania, re-election of Governor Andy Beshear in Kentucky; victories in Virginia including for Danica Roem, the first transgender state senator in the South; and a resounding across-the-board defeat of book-banners wherever they were running.

Brazil’s president, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva promised to reduce rain forest deforestation, and it’s working. Deforestation is already down 40% so far this year, including an extraordinary 68% drop in April. President Lula also appointed Sônia Guajajara as its first Indigenous woman in a key governmental role. She will be managing a new Ministry of Indigenous Peoples.

The United States has been undertaking a decades-long initiative to destroy its stocks of   chemical weapons, and has now was destroyed the last one.

In the Galapagos Islands ocean, where the shallow-water coral reefs have been badly damaged by ocean heating, a large healthy reef has been discovered in deep water. It’s not only a terrific resource, it’s also very fruitful ground for careful, respectful study of healthy coral reefs.

The United Kingdom has banned forbidden the cosmetics industry for using animal testing.

Nestle’s successor bottling company, BlueTriton, will no longer be removing tens of millions of gallons of water annually from the San Bernardino National Forest, thanks to the California State Water Board having issued a cease and desist order.

The European Union now has a battery regulation which encourages battery recycling at a level never achieved before in the western world.

Back in the United States, a $124 million donation to historically Black colleges and universities is designed to increase effectiveness at all levels of university education: enrollment, graduation rates, and employment rates.

With huge support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome, a new tuberculosis vaccine could save 8.5 million lives over the next 25 years. Previous TB vaccines have been ineffective against latent disease, but this one has a 50% effectiveness rate for those patients.

Joe Biden’s expansion of veterans’ care in the United States is showing results. 2023 set all-time records for veteran health care.

Justine Lindsay, a woman of color, is the NFL’s first trans cheerleader. And for the Carolina Panthers, no less.

In a victory for disabled people, who are often excluded from enjoying natural pleasures, Greece has built accessible adaptive chairs on 200 of its beaches.

New York City passed a weight and height discrimination law!

Canada has adopted a major nature agreement. Working with the province of British Columbia and First Nations, this is not only a step towards Canada’s goal of protecting 30 per cent of its natural resources by 2030, it’s also a historic partnership with the tribes.

Finally, 2023 has been an extraordinary year for labor union victories. The United Auto Workers ran a very targeted and thoughtful campaign which resulted not only in major wage increases but also brought the workers in electric vehicle plants into the new agreement. The Writers’ Guild and Screen Actors’ Guild achieved historic victories, while continually reminding people that low-wage union workers are critically important to support. UPS won large wage increases, pensions (including for part-time workers) and the extremely important concession of air-conditioning in all UPS trucks. Kaiser Permanente’s three-day strike resulted in a large wage concession and guaranteed efforts by the organization to encourage new employees.

This post could be 100 times longer, too.


So much of the good news in this post comes from the indomitable Jessica Craven, who publishes a list of good news every Sunday to accompany her activist newsletter, Chop Wood, Carry Water. If you need weekly good news, subscribe (come for the good news, stay for the daily calls to action).

Debbie has deleted her Twitter account. Follow her on Mastodon.

Follow Laurie’s Pandemic Shadows photos on Instagram.