expand/collapse this text box Summary
Ilya shows his young children the hallway and kitchen in the apartment where he grew up.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Ilya: Now let's go to the kitchen. Look, you see only one bulb is lit here. The other ones get turned on when it's time to clean. Because people think, when there's nobody here, why use electricity? So. Let's go this way, I'll show you, to the kitchen, the kitchen. Listen, that's the washing machine. Careful! The washing machine is on. Wow, it's dark. Watch the step! You hear how the washing machine is going in the dark? So. And this is the kitchen. And now I'll show you—we used to cook here, well this used to be our table, and now it's not ours anymore, now it belongs to our neighbors. But the table is exactly the same and so is the stool. And this was our section. This is where we cooked, right here, on this stove. Right.

Manya: What about over here?

Ilya: Over here was for our neighbors. And this is their teapot. The neighbors'. Okay, let's go put our things down, and then, then we'll go visit a friend. Okay? Here we go. Let's knock.

Ilya: Sveta? Oh! Oooh! Hi! You've never seen our children. Have a look. Yes. Let's move to where it's lighter, so you can see them. Tell me how things are going.

Ekaterina Sergeevna: What can we do, Ilyushenka? I've been through every department: about the water and about this business up here, the ceiling plaster. They say that until they fix the roof, it doesn't make sense to work on it.

Ilya: But they won't fix the roof.

E. S.: There's no one to do it. There aren't any roofers. I don't know anymore. They wanted to put in new pipes. They were going to give us pipes... No, that's not it, it's the work that would have been for free, but our Maksimovna wanted to collect 500 rubles from the apartment for the pipes. So the plumber comes, this famous plumber of ours, he takes a seat, he's full of sympathy, he says, "I don't know what to do for you. Nothing works out." As for this, you don't know what happened? Why there's such a gap in the linoleum?

Ilya: You mean they were trying to pull out the pipe, which...

E. S.: In fact there wasn't any pipe. It was rotten. Can you imagine?

Ilya: Completely?

E. S.: Can you imagine? A piece this big, there was no pipe there at all, and all the water poured onto the fourth floor, and their ceiling was ruined too.

Ilya: Yes, of course, I remember that. Auntie Asya! Look, look who came!

Auntie Asya: Hello, sweethearts! Hello, hello!

Ilya: This is Manya, and this is Vasya, and this is Auntie Asya!

E. S.: Well, shall we go visit Mashenka?

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 floor of a poorly lit hallway, leading from the entrance to the kitchen. 1997.

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.

Ilya washes teacups in the kitchen
Ilya washes dishes (see Tour 1 and 2, where this same kitchen is shown 14 years later, and also the broken water heater 6 years later). 1992.

Plaster has tumbled down from the ceiling
There was a leak in the kitchen and plaster came tumbling down, exposing the strips of lathe. There is a conversation about this in the clip "Hallway & Kitchen," Tour 1. 2007.

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

Where: The kitchen and hallway 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 grew up in this apartment and lived here for around thirty years; at the time of filming, he still had a room in the apartment, though he lived elsewhere. 2) Manya and Vasya, Ilya's children, who are here for the first time; 3) Ekaterina Sergeevna and "Auntie" Asya, who have lived in the apartment for a long time and knew Ilya as he was a child and young man; 6) Slawomir, who is filming.

What: In a communal kitchen, all the stoves, water-heaters, pipes, light fixtures, and electric meters belong to the state, as does the apartment itself. Every family is assigned a stove or part of a stove, along with a specified space, marked at its edges by cupboards or tables. The furniture belongs to the tenants. The refrigerators in this apartment are in the tenants' rooms.

The responsibility for the condition of the kitchen, both the space and the equipment in it, is shared by all tenants of the apartment. Repairs are carried out by the local housing administration. Maksimovna, brought up in conversation by Ekaterina Sergeevna, is a local housing administrator.

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