International Conference: Art Born in the Revolution: Russian Art and the State 1917-1932
With guest speakers including John Bowlt, Maria Gough, Christina Kiaer, Christina Lodder and Robert Service
The Royal Academy of Arts, in association with the Courtauld Institute of Art, presents a two-day academic conference to coincide with the exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932 for scholars, students and those interested in the period.
Turned overnight into the ruling party, the Bolsheviks aimed to use the power of mass propaganda in order to establish their founding mythology and disseminate their ideas to an overwhelmingly rural and illiterate population. In 1917 the leader of the new Bolshevik state, Vladimir Lenin, proclaimed that culture should support political needs.
The first day of the conference is held at the Courtauld Institute of Art and aims to address the question of how useful visual art was to the revolution, as well as the ways in which cinema, printed media and consumer goods were used for propaganda purposes. The second day considers the death and immortalisation of key revolutionary figures, such as Lenin, and the consequent establishment of autocratic rule under Stalin, alongside the impact that social, political and economic developments had on the visual arts and culture.
Organised by Dr Natalia Murray, the Courtauld Institute of Art. Full conference programme below. Please note that each day requires a separate booking.
Day one: Friday 24 February 2017 - The Courtauld Institute of Art
2pm – 6.45pm (registration from 1.30pm)
Tickets £16 (£11 concession)
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, WC2R 0RN
Day two: Saturday 25 February 2017 - The Royal Academy of Arts
10.30am – 6.30pm (registration from 10am)
Tickets £50 (including entry into the exhibition, refreshments and drinks)
Reynolds Room, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD
Alexander Gray Associates
Exhibition: Sergei Eisenstein: Drawings 1931–1948
January 7 – February 11, 2017
Gallery talk: Joan Neuberger discusses Eisenstein’s drawings
Saturday, January 14, 2017, 4:00 PM
Alexander Gray Associates in collaboration with Matthew Stephenson presents a rare private collection of drawings by the Russian filmmaker and theorist, Sergei Eisenstein on view for the first time in the Americas. These sexually explicit drawings, completed between 1931–1948, span the period of his travels in Mexico and the United States in the 1930s until his death in Moscow in 1948.
A renowned film director and film montage innovator, Eisenstein also wrote extensively and made upwards of 5,000 drawings throughout his life, including designs for film sets and storyboards. This group, however, reveals Eisenstein’s sexual imagination, in part informed by his own bisexuality as well as his considerable reading and travel. Arranged in groupings that demonstrate a diversity of content, the drawings on view are intimately scaled, mostly monochromatic, with flashes of colored pencil typically in red or blue.
As historian Joan Neuberger notes, during his time in Mexico, “Eisenstein confirmed that drawing was no less important in his work as an artist than film-making and theory writing,” though it remains lesser-known. Many of his films are subtly subversive in his refusal to broadly prioritize propagandistic Soviet Realism over experimentation with camera techniques. In his “sex drawings,” Eisenstein engages in pointed institutional critiques, occasionally through the inclusion of Christian iconography and clergy members entwined in sexual acts that might be read as sacrilegious. He also illustrates figures engaged in intercourse in public spaces including the circus, nightclubs, and the streets. One red and black pencil drawing includes the text “Drag,” and features two figures in an environment that evokes a nightclub, likely in New York. One figure wearing a man’s suit appears to be reaching up the second figure’s dress as they recline on a sofa. Through his exploration of this content, Eisenstein constructs succinct and transgressive visual stories in a medium that was intentionally less public-facing than his films.
Also present in many of these drawings are irreverent depictions of inter-species relations including: a scene of matadors and bulls engaged in oral sex, and a fornicating alligator and rabbit captioned “Fucking, according to the Best System.” These pairings highlight Eisenstein’s fascination with dualities, which he called the “unity of opposites,” as well as his interest in representing a broad range of behaviors and desires reflecting the Freudian topicality of their time. Eisenstein’s experiences in Hollywood are apparent in these drawings, in particular his interest in Walt Disney’s films, which he claimed were “the greatest contribution of the American people to art,” and which informed his sometimes cartoonish style demonstrated in a drawing of a nude man draped backwards over an expressively wide-eyed giraffe.
After spending six months in California, Eisenstein traveled to Mexico to begin filming ¡Que Viva México!, an epic about the country’s history. He intended his trip to last three to four months; it lasted over a year. In 1946, Eisenstein wrote, “it was in Mexico that my drawing underwent an internal catharsis, striving for mathematical abstraction and purity of line. The effect was considerably enhanced when this abstract, ‘intellectualized’ line was used for drawing especially sensual relationships between human figures.” This interest in line and interplay of figures underscores his connection to the work of Mexican muralists including Diego Rivera, who Eisenstein first met in 1927, and whose work he greatly admired.
The drawings on view have a rich history. When departing Mexico, Eisenstein was stopped, questioned and his luggage searched at the United States border where the drawings were nearly confiscated for their incendiary nature. Upon his return to Moscow at the height of Stalin’s rule he kept the explicit images hidden until his death in 1948. His widow, the writer and filmmaker Pera Atasheva, donated most of his graphic archive, with the exception of his sex drawings, to the Russian State Archives of Literature and Art in Moscow (RGALI). Atasheva entrusted the erotic drawings to Eisenstein’s close friend and collaborator, the famous Soviet cinematographer Andrei Moskvin, who protected the director’s reputation by keeping these drawings hidden. After Moskvin’s death in 1961, his widow safeguarded the drawings. In the late 1990s her heirs sold the drawings to the family of present owner. A quarter of the drawings were also donated to the permanent collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Also on view to provide visual context and connection to Eisenstein’s cinematic practice is a continual projection of the 1979 edit of ¡Que Viva México!, Eisenstein’s unfinished film which he began filming in Mexico in 1931. The film footage was edited by various people and released without Eisenstein’s participation in 1933, 1934, 1939, 1940, and ultimately by his assistant director, Grigorii Alexandrov in 1979.
About Matthew Stephenson
Matthew Stephenson is a London based art dealer advising and representing artists and artist’s estates and assisting private collectors and institutions through the exhibition, acquisition and selling of 19th, 20th century and contemporary art.
About Joan Neuberger
Neuberger is Professor, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin.
Alexander Gray Associates
Alexander Gray Associates is a contemporary art gallery in New York. Through exhibitions, research, and artist representation, the Gallery spotlights artistic movements and artists who emerged in the mid- to late-Twentieth Century. Influential in cultural, social, and political spheres, these artists are notable for creating work that crosses geographic borders, generational contexts and artistic disciplines. Alexander Gray Associates is a member of the Art Dealers Association of America.
PhD Funding: Artistic Re-enactments of Performance Art as Vehicles of Cultural Transfer in Eastern Europe since 1960
Department of Film and Visual Culture, University of Aberdeen
Supervisor: Dr. Amy Bryzgel, Senior Lecturer in Film and Visual Culture, University of Aberdeen
Application Deadline: March 21, 2017
Applications are invited for PhD research topics that focus on artistic re-enactments of performances from across the former communist and socialist countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in recent artistic practice. There are numerous examples of artistic re-enactments across the region, providing scope for a range of dissertation topics. Projects can include comparative studies, for example, of the relevance of re-enactments in one local tradition versus that of another; or single-country studies of a number of re-enactments being staged in one context. Dissertations will address the following research questions: what are the various functions of artistic re-enactments of performances in Eastern Europe? How do these functions compare with current understandings of re-enactment in the West? How can re-enactments be used to access a lost or inaccessible history (such as performance art in Eastern Europe)? Also welcome are proposals that consider revisiting culturally relevant or historically significant places by artists or within the context of artistic re-enactments.
Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit. Individuals with a strong research background in the field of Eastern European contemporary art and/or performance art, from either an art history or visual culture background, are encouraged to apply. Applicants should have the necessary language skills needed to undertake the proposed research, and should consider funding sources for travel to conduct field research abroad if it is necessary to the proposed project.
The project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition fees only, whether Home, EU or Overseas, and will be awarded through an open competition.
Interested applicants should contact Dr. Amy Bryzgel with a project proposal of no more than 2,000 words, including discussion of Aims and Objectives, Research Questions, Research Context, Methodology and Critical Approach.
Deadline for all applications: 21 March 2017
Exhibition: Grounding Vision: Waclaw Szpakowski
Curated by Masha Chlenova and Anya Komar
Miguel Abreu Gallery
88 Eldridge Street (Lower East Side), New York City
January 13-February 19, 2017
The opening reception will take place Wednesday January 18, 2017
Happy Holidays from SHERA!
CFP: Summoning the Archive:
A Symposium on the Periodical, Printed Matter, and Digital Archiving at the Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University
May 11-13, 2017
Organizer: Meghan Forbes, NYU and UT-Austin Keynote Speaker: Jenna Freedman, Barnard
The printing and distribution of the avant-garde magazine, illustrated weekly, and underground zine have developed in the twentieth century in tandem with technological advancements in printing and access to these technologies in various regions, gaining traction in different parts of the world at different times based on economic, social, and political conditions. At its best, the magazine is an efficient, relatively affordable (for both publisher and consumer) vehicle for the artists and intellectuals it represents, and has the capacity to innovate with new technologies and engage in pressing social, political, and artistic issues. This is even more true now, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, as we observe new models for content, design, and distribution of the periodical or magazine published on-line, which has the potential to involve an even wider audience, and host a variety of multi-media content. The magazine thus continues to be a leading platform for social and political engagement, and artistic innovation.
Corresponding to a turn towards the digital, the field of Periodical Studies has gained traction as it situates the magazine as a cultural product that incorporates text, image, and graphic design toward various political, social, artistic, and pedagogical ends. With large scale projects dedicated to digitizing print based magazines, such as the Blue Mountain project at Princeton University or the Modernist Journals Project at Brown, and a concurrent turn towards digital mapping and data visualization, periodicals that were once sequestered in the archive now have the capacity to reach a wider audience, and make visible previously overlooked networks and connections enacted within and across the magazines.
The Symposium on the Periodical, Printed Matter, and Digital Archiving, to be held at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU invites publishers, editors, artists, and scholars from the Social Sciences and Humanities to come together around various methodologies and archival practices, and explore the following topics and questions:
- Politics of language and translation in multilingual or internationally circulated publications.
- Trans-networks: serial print culture as an intersectional axis for place, culture, genre, language, race, gender, sexuality.
- Does printed matter “translate” digitally?
- How does the library intervene in its archived periodicals through systems of cataloging, binding, and preservation? How does this affect the accessibility of these collections for researchers?
- Gaps in the archive: what periodicals and other printed ephemera have been left out? What can be done to source and preserve historical periodicals originally not held in collections?
- Likewise, what historical print magazines have not been digitized? What geographic- linguistic regions, gender, cultural, religious, and racial orientations are neglected?
- Effective strategies for making visible and accessible digitized collections through Open Source platforms, as well as data visualization and digital mapping projects. Distant versus close reading strategies. Possible pedagogical applications.
- The role and relevance of the print-based mag in our highly digital moment.
- How does the digital magazine correspond with or subvert the conception of periodical as a material product and cultural form?
- How do zines, comics, and avant-garde publications resist the potential for the periodical to be simply an inevitable by-product of consumerist, capitalist culture? Do they?
All panels and the keynote address will be held at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. Site visits to relevant periodical collections at the New York Public Library and Barnard Zine Library, as well as the library of the Museum of Modern Art, have also been arranged.
Those interested in participating should submit a CV and abstract of no more than 300 words by e-mail with the subject heading: IPK SYMPOSIUM ON THE PERIODICAL to organizer Meghan Forbes, Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge no later than Friday, February 3rd, 2017.
Supported by the Institute for Public Knowledge, Center for the Humanities and the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, in partnership with Public Books, the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room at the New York Public Library, the Zine Library at Barnard College, and the Museum of Modern Art Library.
ANN: Maya Semina Travel Grant
A generous donation made in the name of Maya Semina will help defray travel costs for one graduate student presenting a paper at the CAA Annual Conference and the ASEEES Annual Convention. The grant will be given for five consecutive years, alternating between the CAA conferences and the ASEEES conventions, beginning with the upcoming CAA conference on February 15-18, 2017 in New York City. The alternating order of the subsequent grants will be as follows: ASEEES 2018, CAA 2019, ASEEES 2020, CAA 2021. The funds for the grant have been received for 2017 and 2018, and the funds have been promised for 2019-2021. Maya Semina is a Russian art historian, whose book about Filipp Maliavin was published by Moscow’s BooksMArt Press in 2014. Applications will be evaluated based on the academic merit of the paper topic and financial need. We are especially committed to subsidizing a graduate student who is attending the conference for the first time or who has no local institutional resources for travel support.
GRANT AMOUNT: Up to $1000 USD
All applicants must be:
A student working at either the master’s or doctoral level with a thesis or dissertation topic related to Eastern European, Eurasian and/or Russian art and/or Architecture;
Presenting a paper contributing to advancement in this field at a panel at a CAA Annual Conference (chairs, discussants, and any other type of participants are not eligible to apply) or ASEEES Annual Convention;
A member of SHERA at the time of application;
Live outside the conference city;
- Have not been recipients of this grant in the past.
DEADLINE: January 1, 2017 (Notifications will be sent by January 15, 2017)
All applicants must email the following to to SHERA.email@example.com.
• Complete application form (this has been sent to all SHERA members), which includes contact information, the e-mail address of the recommender; paper title, abstract, tentative budget, and statement of need;
• Two-page CV, listening relevant grants, publications, and talks;
• One (1) letter of reference from advisor or department chair, which includes confirmation that departmental and/or institutional conference travel funds are insufficient, sent by the recommender to SHERA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
We urge applicants to be practical in estimating their travel and lodging budget. We advise sharing a room with another graduate student at the conference hotel, if feasible. We ask the grantee mention the SHERA Maya Semina Travel Grant as a partial sponsor of their participation.
The grant will be disbursed upon presentation of receipts in the weeks following the conference.
ANN: 6th Winter School of the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts
New Natures, Entangled Cultures: Perspectives in Environmental Humanities
23 – 27 January 2017
For more information see the Winter School website
How do we imagine nature/culture? How do new environments emerge and how do we design them – deliberately or by chance? The 6th Winter School of the Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts focuses on the notions of “nature” and “culture” as entangled phenomena. Environmental humanities make an effort to overcome the centuries old division between sciences and humanities by stressing that speaking about “nature” and the hybrid forms of naturecultures is of central importance for all disciplines within the humanities.
We invite doctoral and MA students to think beyond the comfortable binaries of nature and culture and to discuss topics like recycling and hybridity, (eco)nationalism and aesthetics, technology and landscape, corporeality and posthumanism, materiality and animality in order to understand the creative power of “nature” as a cultural metaphor and the intimate interconnectedness between environment and culture.
The programme of the Winter School consists of: 1) interdisciplinary lectures and discussions conducted by Estonian and guest lecturers; 2) student seminars and slams where graduate participants present and discuss their own research; 3) student workshops outside the customary classroom environment.
Plenary speakers: Dr. Harriet Hawkins (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Dr. Dolly Jørgensen (Luleå University of Technology)
Dr. Timothy LeCain (Montana State University)
Dr. Jamie Lorimer (University of Oxford)
Prof. Gregg Mitman (University of Wisconsin – Madison / Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society)
Prof. David Moon (University of York)
Prof. Kate Rigby (Bath Spa University)
Dr. Bronislaw Szerszynski (Lancaster University)
School of Humanities, Tallinn University
Estonian Centre for Environmental History, Tallinn University
Prof. Ulrike Plath (Tallinn University / Estonian Academy of Sciences)
Prof. Marek Tamm (Tallinn University)
Doris Feldmann (Tallinn University)
Tiiu-Triinu Tamm (Tallinn University)
Exhibition: A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde at MoMA
On December 3, 2016, the exhibition “A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde” opened at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; it will be on view until 12 March 2017. The exhibition traces the arc of the pioneering Russian avant-garde from its earliest flowering in 1912 to the moment of the Stalinist decree in 1934. Bringing together almost 300 breakthrough objects across mediums from MoMA’s extraordinary collection, the exhibition, planned in anticipation of the centennial of the Russian Revolution, probes the myriad ways that an object can be revolutionary.
The exhibition will be complemented by a public program “The Russian Avant-Garde: Scholars Respond” on February 8, 2017 from 6-8pm. Admission is free but a reservation is required.
SHERA’s Board is pleased to announce that John Bowlt has received this year’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies from ASEEES, the Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies. His recognition testifies to the increasing importance of the study of art and visual culture within the larger field of Slavic Studies. We congratulate Professor Bowlt on his remarkable achievement, and thank him for his foundational work in our field.
Below is the official citation from ASEEES:
2016 Distinguished Contributions Award Recipient John Bowlt
The 2016 Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award, which honors senior scholars who have helped to build and develop the field through scholarship, training, and service to the profession, is presented to John E. Bowlt, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Director of the Institute of Modern Russian Culture at the University of Southern California.
The contributions of John E. Bowlt to the study of Russian visual culture of the 20th century are exceptionally deep and multi-faceted. Starting from the late 1960s, when much of the material he has spent his career studying was taboo in the USSR, Professor Bowlt has worked sedulously to uncover, make available, and analyze the oeuvres of once almost forgotten (and now world-renowned) artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Pavel Filonov, Liubov Popova, and Varvara Stepanova as well as a host of lesser lights. He has curated exhibitions, translated and published collections of documents, written monographs, and given countless public lectures that have brought the seminal contributions of Russian modernist art and artists to the attention of specialists in the fields of art history and Russian culture as well as a broad general public. Indeed, it would be fair to say that without the efforts of Professor Bowlt, Russian avant-garde art would not have anywhere near the level of international recognition that it now possesses.
Professor Bowlt’s first book, The Russian Avant-Garde: Theory and Criticism 1902-1934, was published in 1976. In the forty years since, he has followed that foundational anthology with a steady stream of monographs, book chapters, exhibition catalogues, and translations. Among his most influential contributions are Pavel Filonov: A Hero and His Fate: Writings on Revolution and Art 1914-1940 (1984, with Nicoletta Misler); Moscow and St. Petersburg 1900-1920; Art, Life and Culture of the Russian Silver Age (2008), the latter written for a non-specialist audience. He was also the editor of the Art and Architecture section for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Former Soviet Union (1994). Perhaps even more influential have been the exhibitions he has curated (and their accompanying catalogues) including the path-breaking “Amazons of the Russian Avant-Garde” (with Matthew Drutt and Zelfira Tregulova, for the Guggenheim) and “A Feast of Wonders. Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes” (for the Nouveau Musée de Monte Carlo and the Tretiakov Gallery). All of Professor Bowlt’s publications are based on scrupulous and painstaking archival work. However, unlike many scholars who make a career in the archives, Professor Bowlt has the ability in his lectures and publications to transcend the myriad facts he has uncovered and create compelling visual and narrative presentations that enthrall and inspire both scholars and the general public.
Professor Bowlt has been a faculty member at both the University of Texas and the University of Southern California and in 2015 was elected Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge University. Professor Bowlt willingly engages in collaborative projects and his publications and exhibitions are often co-curated with younger scholars and scholars from Russia. One of Professor Bowlt’s innovative collaborative projects is the Institute of Modern Russian Culture and its journal Experiment, which has made available a broad range of primary documents on a wide range of topics drawn from 19th and 20th century Russian culture and cultural history.
For his tireless work in creating and promoting the field of Russian modernist visual culture, John Bowlt has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 ASEEES Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award.