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Please note that the exhibition Spirit Labor: Duration, Difficulty, and Affect is for visitors aged 18+. To confirm that you are an adult please present the original of your identity document.


X-ray Records 1946–1964

Restrictions on the arts imposed by the Soviet censor created a culture where much popular music was becoming either impossible to buy or completely forbidden.

By the 1940s, this included Western jazz and rock ‘n’ roll; music made by Russian émigrés; Russian so-called “prison” songs; entire genres like mambo and even the repertoire of official Soviet stars like Vadim Kozin, which became forbidden after his imprisonment on charges of homosexuality. Much of this music had been very popular or was what young people wanted to hear. That frustrated desire and the high cost of smuggled records encouraged bootleggers to satisfy the demand using home-made machines and x-ray film.

The bone records they made were almost always single-sided, recorded individually at 78 rpm, with a duration of about three minutes. Each was different to the others. The quality was often poor and the discs would wear out quickly, but they were sold cheaply and secretly on the street.


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