Walter Benjamin lamented that the photograph eradicated the aura attached to art by being an endlessly reproducible image. The snapshot of today’s camera would never hold the history and originality that a painting did, but herein lies the beauty of the roentgenizdat, or the X-ray pressed record.

Western music was largely banned in 1950’s USSR. In order to smuggle forbidden tunes, tracks were printed onto discarded X-ray photos to be shared and sold.

Even as a photograph, the X-ray record encapsulates the aura Benjamin believed only pre-technological art could hold. The changes of the human body with age make the images fleeting and irreproducible; never again will those bones be pictured as they were in those X-rays.

They hold history by preserving the images of bones long since changed and also the history of an underground youth culture, one that transcended state bounds. Then, of course, the music. The addition of 1950’s blues, jazz, and rock onto haunting images of skeletons is the icing on the cake.

Little did these rebellious music lovers realize, they defied the limits of advancing technology; they created art.

posted on: thenewspaper.ca
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