expand/collapse this text box Summary
In the apartment where he used to live, Ilya greets his former neighbors, and while he talks to them, we see the kitchen.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Ilya: I lived here from nineteen sixty-eight until sometime in the nineties… it's hard to say precisely what year. But we've lived in a different place for probably seven years now.

Auntie Asya: I remember Zhenechka carrying him. She'd put him under her arm, like this. And he'd just be smiling.

Natasha: I haven't seen him I don't know for how many years.

Ilya: How many? Probably three or four.

Natasha: No, not four, more like three. Give me your cell phone number?

Ilya: Okay. And I'll try to… Do you have your cell phone with you?

Natasha: Yes. Let's try.

Ilya: I'll try to call you now.

Natasha: 97-29.

Ilya: 97-29

Natasha: Next week…

[Ilya and Natasha discuss a time to meet; then Ilya and Auntie Asya talk about Ilya's upcoming vacation and about Auntie Asya's distant relatives.]

Auntie Asya: This is my sister's granddaughter. They live in Estonia. In Estonia, they're Estonian.

Ilya: She's goes to school here.

Auntie Asya: She goes to school here. She goes to school here.

expand/collapse this text box Details in Photographs
Apartment I floor plan
Floor plan of the apartment from Tours 1-2 (all clips), home to "auntie" Asya, Ekaterina Sergeevna, Masha, Sveta, and Natasha. 2006.

The kitchen, one year after the video was shot
Doors to the lavatory and the pantry. When dishes are washed here, they are placed on the oilcloth-covered stool. Kitchen from Tours 1 & 2 and the clip "Grandma Does the Dishes," Tour 7. 2007.

Sink, pipes, and pesticide chalk
The white lines were drawn with pesticide chalk. This is the apartment's only sink. People do dishes here, brush their teeth, and wash up each morning. Apartment from Tours 1 and 2. See also close-up. 2007.

Electric fuses
The electric wires and fuses serving a whole apartment have not been upgraded for several decades; the wall has not been painted for 15 years. We see this kitchen in Tours 1 and 2. 2006.

We see this pantry in the clip "Kitchen" from Tour 2. When people didn't have refrigerators, pots and pans with cooked food were put here. The pantry window was kept slightly open even in winter. 2007

A corner of a communal kitchen
Kitchen tables with dishes and shelves; a shirt and socks are drying. See a close-up photo of the socks. Apartment from Tours 1 and 2. 1997.

Cleaning your section of a communal kitchen
Auntie Asya cleans her section of the kitchen. 1998.

Meatballs and laundry in the kitchen
In the kitchen, Oksana is making meatballs that she will fry (Russian kotlety). 1998.

Water heater and soot on the wall
Part of a kitchen with lamp, sink, and water heater; there is soot on the wall. 1992.

The broken water heater
The water heater, minus its cover, remained in place for some years after it had stopped working. We see this kitchen in Tours 1 and 2. 1998.

expand/collapse this text box Basic Facts and Background
When: Summer 2006

Where: The kitchen of a communal apartment in a five-story apartment building in the prestigious historical center of St. Petersburg. Eight families now live in this apartment. There was a time when eleven families lived here (about 50 people).

Who: 1) Ilya Utekhin, who lived in this apartment for around thirty years; at the time of filming, he still had a room here, in which he no longer lived. 2) "Auntie" Asya, who has been living in the apartment for over forty years; 3) Natasha, who lived in the apartment for many years; today she is visiting her daughter Masha and her mother-in-law Ekaterina Sergeevna. 4) Ekaterina Mikhailovna, who silently makes her way to the lavatory; 5) The apartment drunk, Anatoly; 6) Slawomir, who is filming.

Zhenechka, brought up in conversation by Auntie Asya, is Ilya's mother.

What: In a communal kitchen, all the stoves, water-heaters, pipes, and so forth belong to the state, as does the apartment itself. Every family is assigned a stove or a part of one, along with a specified space marked at its boundaries by cupboards or tables. The furniture belongs to the tenants.

The refrigerators in this apartment are in the tenants' rooms. Cooked food is either carried into the rooms, put in the pantry off the kitchen (2:30) or kept in the space between the double windows in the kitchen (3:33).

The responsibility for maintaining the cleanliness of the kitchen, stoves, and heaters is shared by all tenants. Repairs are carried out by the local housing authority.

The kitchen is one of the places where tenants hang their laundry. Toiletries are kept here, rather than in the bathroom.

The only sink in the entire apartment is the one we see here. If a tenant wants to wash his hands after going to the lavatory (0:50), he either does that here or goes to the bathroom and uses the faucet over the bathtub. Washing your face and hands and brushing your teeth can take place either in the bathroom or here in the kitchen. Sometimes this sink is used to wash small items of clothing.

The white grid drawn in pesticide chalk on the wall is meant to repel cockroaches (0:32).

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