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The Utopian Geopoetics of the Russian Avant-Garde

Associate Professor Harsha Ram will give a talk about the utopian geopoetics of the Russian avant-garde, focusing on work by the futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov and constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin.

Illustration of Russian letters spelling the word "Zangezi"
Photo: NYU Jordan Russia Center

Russian avant-garde

The utopianism of the Russian avant-garde, in its collisions and collusions with the Bolshevik Party, has long been recognized as a constitutive feature of cultural production during the early Soviet era. Yet the question of aesthetic utopia has largely been studied with respect to the visual poetics of Russian constructivism.

Khlebnikov and Tatlin's utopism

Harsha Ram's talk seeks to extend this discussion by placing the visual alongside the literary: its focus will be the futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov’s Gesamtkunstwerk Zangezi (1922), staged by the constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin in Petrograd in 1923.

Alongside Tatlin’s unrealized Monument to the Third International, Khlebnikov’s Zangezi may well be the most eloquent example of a utopian aesthetic internationalism which sought to abolish all boundaries, linguistic no less than spatial.

Where and when

June 4, 2.15 PM, Klubben, Georg Sverdrups hus. Tea and coffee will be served. All interested are welcome. NB! The talk will be given in English.

About the speaker

Harsha Ram is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Imperial Sublime. A Russian Poetics of Empire (2003) and is currently working on two book projects: The Scale of Culture. Empire, Nation, City and the Russian-Georgian Encounter, a cultural history of Russian-Georgian relations over the span of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and a second project on the Russian revolution and world literature, on which this talk is based.

Published May 16, 2019 8:59 PM - Last modified June 14, 2019 11:54 AM