RUSSIAN | Jaybe.ru

Previous (Nicholas ZURBRUGG)

Dmitry Aleksandrovich PRIGOV (Russia)

Dmitry Prigov (b. 1940) poet, essay writer, artist, performer. Author of numerous publications in magazines, literary miscellanies, catalogues and anthologies of contemporary poetry, as well as poetry books, essays and prose. Since the midst 1980s D. Prigov has participated in various festivals of contemporary poetry. He is a laureate of various prizes, rewards and awards, including the Pushkin Prize in literature for the year 1994 (Topfer-Foundation and Russian PEN Club). Participated in more than one hundred group exhibitions both in Russia and abroad. Delivered lectures on the contemporary Russian art and literature at different universities in the USA, Great Britain, Germany and others. For more information see the bio-bibliography of the participant. Taken from the poets manuscript.
2000 Dmitry Prigov, Moscow.

TELL ME HOW DO YOU DISTINGUISH BETWEEN YOUR FRIENDS AND I SHALL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE

In fact, there is nothing extraordinary, or exceptional in visual, or sound poetry; this idea of their exceptional character is still favoured (owing to specific cultural and historical reasons it is especially true for Russia) by the makers and consumers of the conventional literature. It is clear that both visual and sound poetry, though not openly and not blankly, in their reduced forms, lay in the very basics of a language and are actualized through speech acts and graphical nature of letters. In general, each act of poetic utterance seems to twinkle between these two opposed poles sound and graphics and, as a result, accumulates in the virtual reality of meaning. In each act of poetic utterance, there is complex of sound-versification-sujet-visuality. As a rule, the meaning of the utterance twinkling among all of these is drawn towards a component of this complex, the component that represents most of the complex in this particular case. Conventional poetry, as a rule, draws everything towards versification and contents and leaves the other two components in a sufficiently degenerated auxiliary state and quality. It is obvious that sound and visuality when dominating represent a similar drama of relationships with other elements and levels. It is the very twinkling of the meaning among the elements of poetic utterance that creates its strange, ambiguous aura, which cannot be reduced to one component of the complex; the aura in which the utterance surpasses itself. Verse libre, for example, combining the unit of sound versification graphics in a rather mutant state, creates the tension and twinkling in relation to prosaic sujet narration.

An interrelationship of visual and sound poetry with traditional system of versification within the twentieth-century culture is a smaller example of a major problem of interrelationship of avant-garde actual art with conventional art. Or, rather, was a smaller example for the time being. From the second half of the last century visual art happened to be the main sphere of stylistic and aesthetic innovations, and, as a result, became the dominant tendency in contemporary fine arts. All radicalism of visual arts found its way to enter the market and cultural institutions, create its own, become valorized, kept in the museums, and legitimate as an establishment art.

Liesl Ujvary.
Art and technics, 90s

The last literary trend, which was significant not only within the boundaries of literature but also beyond them, was new French novel. Then, the visual arts bore the palm and are still bearing it. From this moment, people involved in visual and sound poetry and poetic performance have to orient themselves according to similar genres in the visual arts (happenings, performances, actions, projects, and video) more and more; visual and sound artists, performers find more similarities between their works and visual arts then between their works and verbal art. If, for example, one takes present literary establishment as defined by the rating of Nobel-prize winners and project it with its topics over the establishment of the visual arts of the world, then, the outcome of this projection will be analogous to stylistic and aesthetic search of artists of the 40s, or 50s. The literary people who are involved with ideas and produce the ideas, that are alike to contemporary visual ideas, real may hope for and be satisfied with various types of support only, such as grants and stipends.

Naturally, the ability of an artist to enter the market with one unique work assisted to create this situation, whereas literature (movie-making and theatre respectively) in this situation can only count on the number of copies of the editions and average taste of the millions. Since the shift of location going from aristocratic and other privileged spheres to the market has already been completed, the established culture is a strange mixture from pop-stars, TV presenters, and conventional writers to the most avant-garde artists. An avant-garde literary person alas! is not so socially and culturally important figure. For him and avant-garde artists involved in other arts there remains for functioning either a narrow specialized, or academic area, which is introspective. The situation is clearly not at all tragic, it does not, however, have any prospects.

Julien Blaine.
Untitled, 1999

It is true that contemporary tendencies in the actual art are characterized by a common obliteration of differences not only among the genres but also among the types of art.

From the beginning of the twentieth century first practitioners and creators who emphasized sonor and graphical characteristics in poetry as well as the verbality and behavioral elements in visual arts aimed at broadening of the possibilities of the text. Yet in the second half of the century things changed radically. It is in the visual arts and not in, lets say, theatre, or in cinema, there was articulated the problem of pure non-mixed authors behaviour and text (of any kind, be it verbal or visual) as a particular case of its realization. Patterning, reflection, articulation, and thematisation of this problem characterize contemporary visual arts.

FLOOM.
Blicky (fragment), 1999

We do not investigate in this paper a truly separate legal existence of traditional arts, such as classic music, ballet, opera, and also various folk and traditional types of arts entering the enormous market of entertainment. They, however, do not pretend to be radical innovations. Hence, they are not the focus of this narration.

It is the appearance of such non-visual genres that emphasized sharply enough a relative value of the text in contemporary visual arts, forcing it with its beauty into the sphere of arts and crafts. Accordingly, any direct heroic speaking and utopian thinking, which always represent the zone of power (and nowadays, mind you, is based on the market and spread among potential customers), immediately throws the bombastic artist into pop art or arts and crafts. Present changes in the arrangement of the zones of power also changed usual borders and distinctions between art trends and genres, naturally having left the high with the power and separated the serious from it. Before that, the high and the serious have been related, wedded. Nowadays the serious is beyond the limits of the high and only in special cases, when imitating, gives birth to simulacres and enters the pop zone unnoticed. Often these patterns-simulacres are not cognizable in any other way except by the fact and way of their formation. Only from the image and behaviour of the artist, within his great project, one qualifies exactly the substantional being of a given work. And the very essence of these simulacres launched into the big culture resembles the essence and type of functioning of the Parisian standard of meter, the standard, which is a simple piece of iron usable in many different ways. It can be used for hammering in nails, for instance. And only when it acts as a means of measurement, it acquires its constituting and referential meaning. By this operational and manipulative, virtual realization, which stands so far from its real rough and material nature, it greatly resembles the works of conceptual art, miserable and almost meaningless as objects but pretending to be great in the zone of ideas, constructs, and ruling gestures.

Rod Summers.
Audio work of an organized
nature (Time Machine), 1996

The ability of one and the same artist to operate with different languages none of which bears the palm, without sticking to any of them, not identifying himself with them, not considering any of them to be the level of the realizations of his creative ambitions, have actualized the behaviour and appointing gesture. The text has become a special case of a more general artistic behaviour and strategy. In the zone of art, this way of manifestation has a non-material character in a certain, lets say, virtual zone, there appears an image of the artist. Since the optics of contemporary culture is unprepared when it comes to definition of such phenomenon, it often is defined as a phantom and the attempts of its direct definition are doubted. As the consumers and the producers of the dominating textocentric art have a scale with no space of realization, all this new artistic activity appears as an informational noise in the field of their perception. It, however, irritates. It is clear that it irritates. Would it not irritate you? Well, dun no, dun no. As a result, the only way and space of delivery of such noise becomes a social and moral scale. That is, it is defined as something indecent, immoral, as an attempt to draw attention to oneself in various disgusting ways. It is defined as a crash of everything sacred. Well, such mechanism of perception (or rather, of non-perception) is well-known in culture from the ancient times. Its all right. Youll get used to it, eventually youll love it. Everything will be all right. Men, everything will be all right.

The dominating in the past aesthetic maxim: The artist dies in the text! has now changed to another one: The text dies in the author! For example, if you come to an exhibition of contemporary art and if you do not know the artist, or the trend in advance, then, having entered the hall, you are looking for the artist in order to understand what is happening. The paintings hung on the walls can be only a part of the event they can be destroyed afterwards, defiled, burned, copied out, can belong to somebody else, and, in general, as it will turn out to be, the main event occurred in a small unremarkable or totally different place. Just to compare, lets say, if any super-radical contemporary film director will show up in front of the screen, then the spectators will politely listen to him and then will ask him to at last clear off and show the film-text. The presence of the director in the movie theatre will be a social and cultural act but not a social and aesthetic act as in the case with our artist whose behaviour is implanted into the very essence of his cultural and aesthetic behavioural project, into his cultural and aesthetic phenomenon revealing itself to the culture and art.

Pierre-Andre Arcand.
Untitled, 1997

This is why any use of the text (visual, verbal, traditional, and avant-garde), its openness, obviousness, predictability of ways of its appearance and readability by culture, the way of existence conventionally fixed in it and in general in the culture of the artists, turned the work in various styles from matrioshka to Malevich into something like arts and crafts. Certainly, we do not deny the possibility (and often reality and intensiveness) of the existence of high feelings and extracultural, spiritual, even sometimes beyond-the-bounds-ecstatic, experiences of both creators and consumers. Here we speak not about personal fillings of both the artistic process and separate works, but merely about a certain social and cultural function in its changeability and, accordingly, about the strategy of all artistic community and separate artists who linked their activity and fate with contemporary art. We should note that one could define contemporary art as the whole of artistic manifestations at the present time (irrespectively of forms, genres, manners, and styles). One can define it as a narrower spectrum of genres and stylistics, which have not yet entered a commonly used compendium of quotations, references, and pop-usage. And the last is what we mean here specifically; it is contemporary art as the radical art working with new artistic and aesthetic strategies. As to the works of arts of the high past, they are not cancelled and not surpassed, since they simply do not have a practical usage. They are not substituted with those that are more convenient, or more efficient. They are not included into more general or correcting constructions as in the case with scholarly theories. In this sense and in this regard they are eternal. But in their modus of correlations of a certain social and cultural practice, they in the meantime may be not read at all, or read inadequately enough in the case of disappearance of this social and cultural or artistic practice. (As it happened with icons which were placed in the museums halls, or with accessories of the shaman in an ethnographic museum. The accessories could be distributed to different museum departments: drums and bells to the department of musical instruments, for instance, and the rest to the department of daily life). Their interpretation also changes significantly when the status of the practice changes from the high and powerful to, for example, alternative and oppositional, marginal, pop and kitsch, artistic and applied.

This very actualization of gesture and behavioural model of appearance and discovery of the artist in the culture immediately laid bare the ways of existence of alternative creative types as belonging to arts and crafts in the broadening sense of this term. This definition is neither disparaging nor scornful but qualifying. In this case the artistic sanity of the creators themselves is important in order not to deceive oneself and not to have false expectations in incorrect directions... And the risk of participants of different projects differs. If the risk of the traditional artist is the risk to happen to be not very talented and lucky producer of certain conventional verbal or visual texts, then the risk of the radical artist is a risk to be totally unrecognized by culture as an artist.

Giovanni Fontana.
Sound poem, 1996

And it is happening, performance, action, and project that became the most obvious and even proclaiming manifestations of the wearing out of the text and domination of the behaviour and gesture. They are given here both in the historical sequence of their appearance and in the logical sequence with regard to the main intention of behaviour manifestation in the most and open purity. If in the happening the artist was still looking for certain objects, body positions and expressiveness as for certain visual quasi-texts, then in the performance already the behaviour of the artist himself was the main contents. The behaviour did not appeal to any supporting visuality (except, of course, those visual or verbal objects which were necessary to include or were included by accident, and played additional accessory role). Many performances required totally different professional skills and body training (for example, the performances of Marina Abramovich), which have nothing to do with professional training of the producers of visual texts. We should remind you again that all these performances were and are now present in the sphere of the so-called visual arts and were nominated as such. It happened because the nominating gesture began to dominate over the genre definition, that is, one and the same verbal text, hung on the wall, was nominated to be a work of visual arts and became it. The same text, however, when printed in a book, could already be a literary work. The very same performance, when realized by the actors, would become a work of theatrical art, but when produced by an artist at a place, which is marked as the nominated place of manifestation of visual arts, it becomes a work of visual arts.

The action was a following step in this direction, especially in its conceptual variant, when not the action itself was emphasized but a following (or, on the contrary, preceding) documentation. The action itself and the participation in it acted as unnecessary details; the same was the part of the text in general in the action art, that is, the behaviour itself belonged to the sphere of text and became an unnecessary particular case of the action. The time (as well as the contents) dividing the action itself and the publication of the documentation, either before, or after the action, and the artist, who exists in this time period as an eliminator of the meaning of both acts in their essence of the substance, are foregrounded.

Isabella Beumer.
Kehlkopf rasiert (fragment), 1998

And the last in this row is the project, which reresents a certain temporal continuity full of various acts and gestures, which act as marks on the trajectory of the artist revealing himself in culture within time limits, which are sometimes equal to life. The project, therefore, can last a life. In this respect, the project totally does not differentiate between such radical activities as performance, action, and various computerized experiments, on the one hand, and simple traditional drawing, writing of rhymed poems, or painting. Even more so, with the growth of a set of visual and textual programmes in computers and possibilities of manipulation, including the interactive ones, the problem of traditional skill of visual representation will shift towards the zone of the manipulative, that is, practically, towards the zero-creative position close to the fundamental and ontological notion of the operation. It is clear that in this context all pretensions to the true texts and ways of their creation and presentation as opposed to untrue texts already seem to be totally incorrect and non-productive. In addition, any differentiation between genres and types is lost (well, it is not lost maybe only in the cases of special play with them, or their simulacres) among the production and the producers of all kinds of texts. This is why we speak about the Art in general and its main producer, Artist.

Of course, the problem of computing of the project, having left aside the already mentioned problems of cultural optics, makes the project directly dependent on the time of its realization. But, naturally, some critically sufficient length of trajectory allows us to make judgments about the direction of the project and its possible filling. To some extent one may already make judgments about the justifiability of the artist.

Having liberated the artist from the flesh of the text, moved him (i.e. his way of realization in culture) onto manipulative and operational level, and manifested this level as the main zone of ambitions of the artist himself, the project flattened the artist against the border between the limited and limitless in contemporary anthropological culture. And, as it is well-known, the border belongs to both territories. Accordingly, through this border the artist intuitively draws the contents as if from the lying beyond the bounds, and in the temporal modus from the future. True, it is difficult not only for us but for him, too, to determine these elements of the future and identify them precisely. One also can hardly imagine from our point in the world what in the future at their cultural scale will be solvable, will yield to solution... Whether these scales will be topologically equally strong. It is possible that they will not read something that we value and appreciate so highly at all. But something insignificant, marginal, accidentally appearing as if by itself on the margins of our sensible activity may gain incredible significance for them. By the way, something like that we can recall from the new history of culture. I mean the already mentioned fact about the icons in the museum space, where they became to be evaluated by their colour, drawing, and other aesthetic beauties mainly. At the same time inside the churches they were mainly sacral objects whose sacredness has never been diminished in case, lets say, their paints and drawings were indistinguishable, if they blackened, or were covered by the framework.

Thus, where we will be moved with all our visual and sonor contemporary quasi-sacral things and how we will be read (if at all), and what, in general, will happen to all of it is now unknown. But, I imagine, it can be only interesting to investigate all our present ambitions and pretensions within such heuristic systems.

Translated by Inna Tigountsova.

Previous (Nicholas ZURBRUGG)








To the main page

Theory

Theory

Dmitry BULATOV
Dick HIGGINS
Christian SCHOLZ
Valeri SCHERSTJANOI
Larry WENDT
Sergei BIRJUKOW
Jean-Yves BOSSEUR
Henri CHOPIN
Michael LENTZ
Dean SUZUKI
Arrigo LORA-TOTINO
Klaus Peter DENCKER
Gerhard RUEHM
Teddy HULTBERG
Serge SEGAY
Jean-Pierre BOBILLOT
Jerome ROTHENBERG
Endre SZKAROSI
Carla BERTOLA
Steve MCCAFFERY
Lawrence UPTON
Rea NIKONOVA
Philadelpho MENEZES
Fabio DOCTOROVICH
Ide HINTZE
Jacques DONGUY
Enzo MINARELLI
Nicholas ZURBRUGG
Dmitry Aleksandrovich PRIGOV

Practice

Practice

Fernando AGUIAR
Charles AMIRKHANIAN
Pierre-André ARCAND
Vittore BARONI
Eric BELGIUM
Carla BERTOLA
Isabella BEUMER
Sergei BIRJUKOW
Julien BLAINE
Guy BLEUS
Jaap BLONK
Jean-Pierre BOBILLOT & Jean-Luis HOUCHARD
Lars-Gunnar BODIN
Christian BÖK
Jean-François BORY
Dmitry BULATOV
Warren BURT
Philippe CASTELLIN
Cris CHEEK
Henri CHOPIN
Carlfriedrich CLAUS
Wayne CLEMENTS
Bob COBBING
Philip CORNER
Fabio DOCTOROVICH
Jacques DONGUY
Jas DUKE
Paul DUTTON
Carlos ESTEVENZ
FLOOM
Bartolome FERRANDO
Peter FINCH
FLATUS VOCIS TRIO
Giovanni FONTANA
Jean-Claude GAGNON
Hartmut GEERKEN
Alexander GORNON
Rosa GRAU
Mark GREY
Alex HAMBURGER
Jarl HAMMARBERG
Bernard HEIDSIECK
Ide HINTZE
Lászlo HORTOBÁGYI
Jol HUBAUT
Brenda HUTCHINSON
Elise KERMANI
KESKEN
Richard KOSTELANETZ
Nobuo KUBOTA
Ilmar LAABAN
Werner LAUBSCHER
Jean-Jacques LEBEL
Michael LENTZ
Arrigo LORA-TOTINO
Jackson MacLOW & Anne TARDOS
Claude MAILLARD
Chris MANN
Richard MARTEL
Steve McCAFFERY
Philadelpho MENEZES
Enzo MINARELLI
Phil MINTON
Massimo MORI
Charlie MORROW
Sainkho NAMTCHYLAK
Rea NIKONOVA
Alistair NOON
Maggie ΒSULLIVAN
Tibor PAPP
Oskar PASTIOR
Serge PEY & Joachim MONTESSUIS
Dmitry PRIGOV
Sergei PROVOROV
Miroslaw RAIKOWSKI
Josef Anton RIEDL
Américo RODRIGUES
Gian Paolo ROFFI
Jerome ROTHENBERG
Günter & Colette RUCH
Gerhard RUEHM
Xavier SABATER
Valeri SCHERSTJANOI
Elke SCHIPPER
Serge SEGAY
Gary SINGH
Hazel SMITH
Steven Ross SMITH
RE: SOUNDING
Enno STAHL
Amanda STEWART
Rod SUMMERS
Alaric SUMNER
Mark SUTHERLAND
Endre SZKÁROSI
Pierre THOMA
Gabór TÓTH
Liesl UJVARY
Lawrence UPTON
VERBOMOTORHEAD
Alberto VITACCHIO
Ania WALWICZ
Michael J. WELLER
Larry WENDT
Trevor WISHART
Pamela Z
Ellen ZWEIG