Visual Regimes of Russian Beringia

PANÁKOVÁ, Jaroslava: Visual Regimes of Russian Beringia. Bratislava: Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS – VEDA SAS, 2020, 127 p., ISBN 978-80-224-1832-4.

This book discusses what conditions the emergence, formation, and transformation of visual systems in Russian Beringia.
Given the perceived differentiation within visual systems, whether ethnocultural, social, or aesthetic, and also the embeddedness of visual systems in certain temporal and geographical frameworks and precise socioeconomic and political contexts, I use the term visual regimes. In my analysis, I pay particular attention to visual representations. Drawing on recent cultural-psychological and cognitive studies on visual perception and processing, this work examines those representations (and related ways of seeing) which are not only visible, tangible products of visuality, but also represent (abstract) concepts in the system of knowledge and action of the community. While aesthetics is a mode of social structuring, everyday life is its expression. This “active aesthetic” (Chaney 1996, p. 147) has various manifestations. I focus on drawing, family photography, and grave photo portraits and home decor, because they most clearly reflect the links between visual representation, self-concept, and social structure. I examine all these aspects in the material of the indigenous visual culture of Russian Beringia, in the community of Chukchi and Yupik people.