Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain

  1. David Hlynsky
  2. With texts by Martha Langford
  • ISBN 9780500252116
  • 24.00 x 16.50 cm
  • Hardback with tipped on colour plate to front board (without jacket)
  • 208pp
  • 176 Illustrations, 174 in colour
  • First published 2015

A magical window into a world on the verge of collapse 25 years ago – before the Wall came down and Walmart values ascended


Communist shop windows may long have passed from history into irony, but their distinctive style, handmade charm and implicit critique of modern commercial culture have won them a new generation of fans. This is a wonderfully deadpan celebration of a unique commercial aesthetic that flourished under the crumbling totalitarian Communist regimes of 20th-century Europe.


More than 170 images, mainly shop window displays, shot by artist David Hlynsky during the final years of the collapsing Soviet empire in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, East Germany and Russia, using a Hasselblad camera to capture the slow, undramatic moments of daily life on the streets.

The photographs are accompanied by essays by art historian Martha Langford and cultural studies specialist Jody Berland, as well as Hlynsky’s own account of his time as a flâneur in the shopping plazas of the collapsing Soviet empire, ‘a vast ad-hoc museum of a failing utopia’ that in 1989 began to close for ever.

David Hlynsky is Senior Lecturer in Arts, Culture and Media at the University of Toronto. He was founding editor of the alternative photography magazine image nation, and his own photographic work has appeared in many exhibitions and public collections worldwide.