L'anthologie of Global Inestabilidad Transpuesta - Instability in Relationships - Russia (Part 23)

Transposing emblem by Anastasiya Zakharova
We all know what a relationship or family is about. It is about the stability we are all looking for, about finding the right person to live our entire life with, about building something where we can rely on a person we trust. So our whole life is about this beautiful feeling called “love.” Of course there are ups and downs in every relationship, as nothing is perfect in this world, but let us look at the picture of relationships in Russia, what they involve and how stable or unstable they appear.
Saint-Petersburg, Russia - Fontanka Canal
The numbers for 2016 have not yet been calculated, but according to Rosstat there were about 1,161,000 marriages in 2015 in Russia, and 612,000 divorces. So the statistics are not particularly rosy, right? It seems that for every two marriages there is one divorce. This makes everyone wonder whether their marriage is special and their family is safe till the end or whether they are in a risk group. At least I can’t forget this information. For me creating a family is something magical, but the reality is much stronger. An interesting fact is that the number of marriages in Russia has risen 30% from 2000 to 2015, while the number of divorces has fallen 3% during this time. So the statistics in 2000 were more horrifying in terms of matrimony and divorce. This period of 15 years was full of volatility, especially in matter of divorce, where there were periods of rising and falling rates. However, in regard to marriage, there has been quite stable growth.
Moscow, Russia - Easter cake installation
Our modern world is changing too fast. Lots of technologies have appeared; everyday life runs at a fast pace and the speed at which we receive information, meet people, etc. is also high. Nowadays, connections between people are tough and maybe because of this influence we want to be in motion as well. We want to change our life, we want to try everything, we are open to new things, and sometimes it may seem that we live not with the right person who wants the same things. We meet so many people every day that I’m sure everyone has asked themselves whether they are with the right person? And here I’m talking not about feelings, doubts and so on, but the way we think when we meet a new person with the same vision as ours. So all this motion and speed is raising doubts about the sacred union of the family.
Moscow, Russia - Theatre Square - Spring Festival
Everything was very different in the past. During the era of pre-revolutionary Russia, divorces were uncommon as everyone had to farm, and subsistence production was the only way to survive. This was a real obstacle to annulling a marriage as a woman alone just couldn’t make a living by farming. Any help men received didn’t go amiss either. What is more, the church had a strong impact on people’s lives and wouldn’t accept divorce. So for many centuries the family union was quite strong. After the revolution in 1917, Russians adhered to a strict ideological life where everyone was afraid of judgment passed by relatives and colleagues. This prevented even suggesting the idea of divorce.
Saint-Petersburg, Russia - Street musicians
Moreover, there was the possibility of social exclusion leading to loneliness and making life impossible. Consequently, your whole life was open to everyone and was essentially under control, so divorces were rare. For centuries, therefore, the family was a really stable institution not questioned by anyone. Now we have more choices to behave as we wish and it gives us free rein.

While we’re on the topic of freedom, we know relationships are not always about happiness and stability. Lots of partners are unfaithful. Here we can also see unpleasant numbers. About 75% of Russian men are cheating on their wives and 25% of women. I am glad to know that at least Russia is not listed in the top 10 countries with the highest rates of infidelity. It may be nice to hear, but still it is always hard to know you could be cheated on. According to Russian statistics there are almost 10,000,000 more women than men in Russia. So Russian women have a relatively small pool of men to marry anyway. Moreover, there is a fight for men. That is why men feel more powerful, and women sometimes just have to come to terms with their husband’s cheating.
Volgograd, Russia - Self-made wooden furniture
Even now as feminism is gaining momentum in Russia, women’s level of dependence on men is still high. Women are trying to fight for their right to be on the same level as men, but in Russia they are still a long way from achieving it both in the professional sphere and in the family. Men are still the head of the household earning money, while women have to care for the children. In the case of a divorce, it is really hard for a woman to raise children alone as there are no government subsidies. At the same time, men do not pay much money for their ex-wives and children. While the opposite of what I am describing exists, as there are still lots of cases of men supporting their family, the main direction is what I have outlined, and it doesn’t want to change, unfortunately. In recent years there have been two trends – early marriage between the age of 18 and 23, and marriage between the age of 25 and 30. The statistics show that when someone gets married for the first time, they already know someone who is divorced and has a baby. Late marriage in Russia can be explained by the European influence, but early marriage and divorce is incomprehensible to me.
Velikiy Novgorod, Russia - Monument to tourist
Unstable relationships are not the only problem in Russia. It is just the main problem that occurs to me when I think about the future. Yet there is one other area I’m thinking of when I reflect on instability in relationships – gay/lesbian couples. There are about 24 countries where such marriages are legalized and there are also some countries that recognize homosexual marriages consummated in another country. But Russia is not represented on any of these lists. Such marriages are forbidden here and, moreover, there is a fine of RUB 100,000 (equals roughly $1,700) for pursuing homosexual relationships in public. Russia is a quite conservative country in this regard. Furthermore, Russians overall are not very positive about such relationships. When you go by train or bus, it is really very rare to see a homosexual couple. As a result it is impossible for them to express their feelings for each other at any place except for home if they want to avoid being viewed in a rather dim light. There are always supporters and detractors in any question. My thoughts here are not based on statistics of unfaithfulness or breakup, but on legalization. When we talk about the subject of instability, I feel that this group of people definitely falls under such a definition. It is hard to know that there are no documents proving a loving relationship is secure by law.
Voronezh, Russia - Detail of monument to the kitten
When talking about relationships in light of instability, the first idea that comes to mind is about cheating and breakup. No one is safe here, and it is always painful to confront this. Everyone is looking for a soulmate; some people are lucky to find one and remain safe throughout life. Instability in such an important area as our relationship has a tremendous bearing on our lives since without stability there we will feel empty and lost.

Anastasiya Zakharova

The Emblem of Instability as a postcard booklet (text on back) at 1080 Brew in Brooklyn/Queens, NY


Photo 1: Saint-Petersburg, Russia - Cityscape by ilozavr

Photo 2: Saint-Petersburg, Russia - Fontanka Canal by Aikon

Photo 3: Moscow, Russia - Easter cake installation, photo by yulyao

Photo 4: Moscow, Russia - Theatre Square - Spring Festival by Olga Volodina

Photo 5: Saint-Petersburg, Russia - Street musicians by a_andreev

Photo 6: Volgograd, Russia - Self-made wooden furniture, photo by Vladimir Arsentyev

Photo 7: Velikiy Novgorod, Russia - Monument to tourist by sikaraha

Photo 8: Voronezh, Russia - Detail of monument to the kitten, photo by VPales

The Emblem of Instability as a postcard booklet (text on back) at 1080 Brew in Brooklyn/Queens, NY

Parts of the Emblem of Instability

Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.

Bichen, Svetlana Novoselova. Mental and Cultural Instability: Russia and Turkey. February 2017.

Caetano, Raphael. Instabilidade emocional: Brazil. February 2017.

Dastan, S.A. The Stability of Instability: Turkey and Syria. March 2017.

D'Adam, Anton. Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America: El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny. January 2017.

Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.

Halimi, Sophia. Modern Instabilité: Youth and Employment in France and China. March 2017.

Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Embracing Instability - Spain. February 2017.

Kelvin, Sera. The Stability in Expecting Emotional Instability: Brazil. April 2017.

Mankevich, Tatsiana. The Absence of Linguistic Stabilнасцi: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.

Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.

Mitra, Ashutosh. The Instability of Change: India. January 2016.

Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.

Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.

Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.

Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016.

Pranevich, Liubou. Cultural Instability: Belarus and Poland. March 2017.

Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016.

Sousa, Antonia. Social and Economic Instabilidade: Portugal. January 2017.

Vuka. My Intimate Imbalanced Inclination. March 2017.

Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017.

Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.

To follow: texts by Russian, Spanish, Guatemalan, New Guinean, Serbian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian writers and translators

Further reading

Azazeal, Alex. Отражение Spiegelt Reflection. 2014.

Friedrich, Angelika. The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Friedrich, Angelika. Sub-Under-U-метро-Bahn-Ground-Way. 2014.

Gergiev, Vladimir. Street - Straße - Улица. 2014

Metivier, Anthony. Kunstart. 2014.

Smirnov, Yuri. Art de streetулица. 2013.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part I). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part II). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part III). September 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Forward to Next Transposing Emblem. January 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Changes to Transposing Emblems. November 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Excerpt of new emblem transpoзиция on trash. September 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Müll trashed мусор. 2013

Visit www.transposing.net for more information about transposition.

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