Documenting the Late Soviet Punk Scene

Cult band Zvuki Mu and rock-idols of the 1980s, as seen by photographer Igor Mukhin.

Pyotr Mamonov and Zvuki Mu at the Vilnius rock festival, 1988.

The black-and-white photography book “I Have Seen Rock‘n’Roll,” published in 2016, is a unique record of the last years of the USSR, as reflected through the booming local music scene. Photographer Igor Mukhin, who witnessed the late 1980s nascent counterculture firsthand, created a collective portrait of the rebellious youth and their rock-idols, living in and enduring the final years of the Soviet state together. “I felt that the time of 'change' had come, and I needed to go and shoot,” said Mukhin in the statement for the book’s successful crowdfunding campaign. 

Along with the rock-gig regulars and bohemians of the era, the book features portraits of its most gifted musicians: Boris Grebenshchikov of the band Aquarium, Viktor Tsoi of Kino, Zhanna Aguzarova of Bravo, Oleg Garkusha of Auktyon. And among them is Pyotr Mamonov, collaborator of Brian Eno and leader of experimental rock band Zvuki Mu. Their minimalistic sound and expressionistic performances were truly unique and the band quickly achieved cult status, even surviving the collapse of the USSR.

“I Have Seen Rock‘n’Roll” is available for purchase via the Fotodepartment online-store.

Clip of Zvuki Mu performing “Soyuz-Pechat” with English subtitles, 1988.