Time forward, two times back


The idea of ​​“one step forward, two steps back,” as the Cambridge Dictionary explains, demonstrates a setback: when you make one step forward and two steps back, you progress, but then you experience the events that make you fall behind in relation to the moment when you progressed … In English, this idiom is often used; it explains the situation in which progress stops because of a bad, destructive event that disrupts progress … Johnny Winter even wrote a song with the following words: “Every time I try to get ahead, There’s lots of people that are being misled, That is why what I am wearing is black, I take one step forward and two steps back ”…

Borrowing a European idiom in 1904, in Switzerland, Lenin wrote his famous book, “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, in which he analyzed in detail various currents and groups in the Russian Social Democratic Party. In 1968, for Mikhail Schweitzer’s film “Time, Forward!”, Georgy Sviridov composed music under the same name. This film showed the construction of Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Factory, and the city of metallurgists in general, which became the hallmark of high Stalinism. The most famous part of Sviridov’s “Time, Forward!”, was used in a number of films, TV and radio programs, documentaries about the first five-year industrial plans, about industrialization … This piece of music was used in the introductory part of news on the central Soviet channels and for many, it was associated with occupation and totalitarianism… These pieces are still used by some media because, as the director Schweitzer wrote, “this music is eternal… because it has a pulse free of political turmoil of life… it has time that lasts forever contrary to the blows of fate”.

Can music contain “time that lasts forever”? It has been told many times that the music by Sviridov provokes agitation, as well as the sensation not just of progress, but of a real attack – the beginning of a war … Is this a war of modernity against the past? The war of a futuristic vision of the world against the imaginary remnants? Wasn’t that the war of the Soviet project against the local people when it came to Lviv in September 80 years ago?

Having used Soviet TV and cinema chronicles for his video, Oleh Voronko couldn’t help but get rid of the “strong association” of all Soviet music with Sviridov’s music, an unsettling music that lasts forever. But this music was transformed, as well as the famous idiom – instead of a “step forward” we got “time forward” … Can time move one step forward and then two steps back? It is time that is the main aesthetic tool for film and video…

Time goes forward, but can it also roll backwards?

Biba Schultz, Center for Urban History

The project “Time forward, two times back” is a part of the [unarchiving] program of the City Media Archive of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, which aims to popularize and update the issues of archival heritage through various forms and non-academic formats. These works have been created in recent years on the basis of the collections of the City Media Archive; they discuss the problem of interconnections between people, the media and the past.

The task of the City Media Archive is to collect, store, research, access and promote collections and materials that are often ignored by state archival collections. On the basis of themes materials of the archive are connected with the city history in its various manifestations and perspectives. The City Media Archive is also a place to analyze archival data and rethink the role of the archive in society at large. The project aims to explore new and original ways of evaluating, contextualizing, displaying and using various archival media and documents. It also seeks to unite the archivist’s community with scientists and the public.

Bohdan Shumylovych

Olexandr Makhanets

City Media Archives of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe

Центр міської історії Центрально-Східної Європи