ArT, English, Exhibitions

Soviet Hippies: peace, love, and freedom in the Soviet Era!




I have always been interested and fascinated by subcultures. Yesterday I came across an amazing exhibition about the  Estonian Hippies  at the Red Gallery in Shoreditch.

“Soviet Hippies” curated by  KIWA and Terje Toomistu  is the result of the anthropological study and recorded interviews with fifteen people from the hippie generation in Estonia. The Soviet West which was distinguished by its unique scene of rock music and bohemian vibe.


Historically the Khrushchev Thaw (1956‒1964) that followed Stalin’s repressions brought a breath of fresh air to some places in the Soviet Union. In Estonia, which is often regarded as the Soviet West, the access to Finnish television and foreign radio broadcasts was the key source of divergence.

The “free world” were rocking in the spirit of the slogan “Make love not war.” The stagnation that accompanied Brezhnev’s rule (1964-1982), further marked with the events in 1968 in Prague, did not leave much hope for political progress nor the feeling of individual freedom. Thus the generation that grew up in late 1960’s took the world as a big lie and decided just to deal with their own things.

The hippie movement that captivated hundreds of thousands of young people and evoked various social movements in the West in the 1960s had a profound and lasting impact on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Affected by perceived Western freedoms and inspired by various spiritual traditions, a counterculture of flower children developed in the Soviet Union. Disengaged from the Soviet official ideology of proclaimed atheism, authoritarianism and Soviet morals, the Soviet hippie movement found its expression through rock music, the cult of love, pacifism, actual and cosmic travel, and self-fashioning that was generally considered unacceptable for Soviet citizens.

In the shadow of strict rules and harsh repressions, a colorful crowd of artists, musicians, freaks, vagabonds and other long-haired drop-outs created their own world, their own underground system that connected those who believed in peace, love, and freedom for their bodies and souls.”


However, the mere trend toward hippie fashions, long hair and great rock concerts was enough to make the Soviet authorities concerned. In the eyes of the KGB, the hippies were poisoned by degraded Western influences, posing real danger to the regime and the moral construction of Homo Sovieticus.

Highly reccomended!

Exhibition opens to the public from Saturday 3rd of September until September 18th From 12noon until 6pm daily. FREE ENTRY!

RED gallery: 1-3 Rivington St, London EC2A 3DT

More information:
Soviet Hippies exhibit homepage:
Soviet Hippies forthcoming documentary film:
Red Gallery website:
Powerplant Bookings website:
Kiwa’s website:;

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