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      (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Exhibitions >>

Новые Художники и Новый Театр
The New Artists and the New Theatre

Exhibition of Collages, 1985

during the performance

Балет Трех Неразлучников
The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones

page 1
• Introduction
page 2
• exhibition views
Room wih window
Left wall
page 3
• exhibition views
Room wih window
Right wall
page 4
exhibition views
Theatre room
page 5
• Igor Khadikov's article (2001)

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deutsch >>

Новые художники:
Евгений Козлов, Олег Котельников, Тимур Новиков, Вадим Овчинников и др.

New Artists
Oleg Kotelnikov, Evgenij Kozlov,Timur Novikov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, and others

venue: “5-я студия” [The Fifth Studio], also known as “Театр Эрика Горошевского” [Erik Goroshevsky Theatre],
the theatre section of the "Club 81“, prospekt Chernishevskogo 3, Leningrad / Saint Petersburg

© pictures: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, 1985, unless otherwise mentioned

© research: Hannelore Fobo, 2018




Introduction

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Artists and public at "The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones" From left to right: Timur Novikov, Georgy Guryanov, Sergey Khrenov (sitting, with beard), Sergey Saitsev (front row, with earphones), 1985

Artists and public at "The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones"
From left to right: Timur Novikov, Georgy Guryanov, Sergey Khrenov (sitting, with beard), Sergey Saitsev (front row, with earphones), 1985

The venue

The “Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones” was one of three New Artists’ theatre performances that took place at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, a small apartment consisting of two rooms and a kitchen, with a total area of about 50 sqm. Located in the attic of a building on Chernishevsky Street, 3, it was a branch of the Literary Club 81, an organisation for non-conformist writers, poets and translators, which had its main, yet considerably smaller premises on Pyotr Lavrov Street, 5 (present-day Furshtatskaya Street). more >>

The Club 81 had indeed a large impact on Leningrad’s “non-official” culture, and its history as well as single episodes have been discussed in books and articles. The most detailed account was given by B.I. Ivanov, one of its founders, in his book published in 2015: Б. И. Иванов, История Клуба-81 / B. I. Ivanov, The History of Club 81, Ivan Limbakh Publishing House, Saint Petersburg. In the following two paragraphs I use information from this book which I already quoted in my article about a jam session in August 1983 at Pyotr Lavrov Street, "Leningrad Collective Improvisations".

The Club 81 was founded at the end of 1981 "under the auspices" of the KGB and existed until 1989, uniting between 60 to 70 members. Its full name was “литературно-творческое объединение Клуб-81 при Ленинградском отделении Союза советских писателей”  [Literary-Cultural Association Club 81 at the Leningrad branch of the Union of Soviet writers].

    Its assignment to the Union of Soviet writers was a condition imposed and negotiated by the KGB. It served a double purpose: on the one hand, it gave the organisation a legal status which it wouldn’t have attained otherwise. On the other hand, this very legal status allowed the KGB to supervise more effectively activities of club members. (Leningrad Collective Improvisations, 2017 more>>)

The main aim of its members was to publish their writings in their own country, which was a privilege limited to members of the Union of Soviet writers, but this affiliation did not make them members with equal rights. Although the Club 81 possessed all institutional characteristics such as membership reunions, elections of a board etc., its members were never given member cards and found great difficulties to publish their works. On the other hand, the Club 81 enjoyed relative freedom to carry out its activities such as readings, authors' talks and the like. Boris Ivanov called it “an island of freedom” (p. 159). He also praised the relative generosity of the two spaces it operated, comparing it to the 25 sqm of the Moscow club “Poetry” for its 150 members (p.136).

The Club 81's second space was a result of it having “adapted” Erik Goroshevsky’s “Fifth Studio” as a theatre section in 1982, for which it received, in 1983, the additional premises on Chernishevsky street, officially rented by the Literary Fond. In autumn 1983, Erik Goroshevsky would already stage the first theatre plays there (p.78).

Boris Grebenshikov (cello), Sergey Kuryokhin (grand piano) and Hans Kumpf (clarinet) Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, 1984. Photo Hans Kumpf

Boris Grebenshikov (cello), Sergey Kuryokhin (grand piano) and Hans Kumpf (clarinet)
Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, 1984. View from the large room towards the small room.
Photo Hans Kumpf

The performances took place in the larger of both rooms, which had, on one side, several curtains to mark the stage and seated about thirty visitors. The second room, provided with a large window, was accessible through a connecting door, so that visitors could also watch the scene from there; a second door led to the corridor. The smaller room was the translators’ meeting place. It was furnished with a comfortable sofa, a big table and a grand piano. The Club 81 had also opened a musical section with Boris Grebenshikov, Sergey Kuryokhin and others, and occasionally concerts were arranged. In the summer of 1984, German jazz-clarinettist and journalist Hans Kumpf recorded a jazz session with himself, Grebenshikov singing tango and Kuryokhin playing the grand piano, and on Kumpf’s cassette recording we can hear it playing quite out of tune. more >>

The three New Artists performances or “New Theatre” were “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones” after a poem (or play) by Daniil Kharms, “Anna Karenina”, and “The Idiot”. They were independent of Goroshevsky’s activities. Rodion Zavernyaev staged the latter two, inspired by Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, respectively. Ekaterina Andreyeva reprinted both of Zavernyaev's "half page libretti" in the "Brushstroke" catalogue, Russian Museum, 2010, pp. 46/47. In her article “Shake Your Body to the Hilt: the Performances of the New Artists, the New Theater, and Pirate Television", she gives a description of these performances (catalogue The New Artists, Moscow Museum of Modern Art [MMOMA], 2012, pp. 96). In essence, these performances were closer to happenings than to theatre plays, as there were no rehearsals.

The main performers at “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones” were Igor Verichev, Georgy Guryanov and Timur Novikov. Other participants were Ulyana Tseytlina and the choir of the “Stilyagi” or “Teddy Boys”. The "Ballet" poem is a parody of a dance notation that follows a numerical system , and a section of the floor (or stage) had to be divided into nine equal squares (see reprint of Novikov's libretto in Brushstroke, 2010, p. 45) In the picture below we see Timur Novikov and Evgenij Kozlov creating such a grid by applying paper strips to the floor with white glue. More pictures from the performance >>

Timur Novikov and Evgenij Kozlov preparing the stage for "The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones". Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, 1985 Archive of Valery Alakhov

Timur Novikov and Evgenij Kozlov preparing the stage for "The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones".
Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, 1985
Archive of Valery Alakhov


The New Theatre in (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov’s works.

Evgenij Kozlov was present at two of these performances, “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones” and “Anna Karenina”. At both he took pictures of the performers, and these pictures inspired him to a number of important works. The “Ballet” led to three portraits, one of Igor Verichev (1987) and another one of Timur Novikov (1986, The Muzeum Sztuki Collection, Lodz). The latter became the point of departure for his iconographic “Portrait of Timur Novikov with Arms Consisting of Bones” from 1988, now in the collection of the Russian Museum. “Anna Karenina” led to two outstanding multi-figural compositions from 1988. more >> and more >>.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Portrait of Timur Novikov Mixed media on paper, 63 x 49 cm, 1986 The Muzeum Sztuki Collection, Lodz (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: And Igor. New Composer Igor Verichev. Mixed media on paper , 63 x 49 cm, 1987 (E-E) Evgenij: Kozlov Portrait of Timur Novikov with Arms consisting of Bones Mixed media on canvas, 103 x 94 cm, 1988 The State Russian Museum Collection, Saint Petersburg
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Portrait of Timur Novikov
Mixed media on paper,
63 x 49 cm, 1986
The Muzeum Sztuki Collection, Lodz
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
And Igor.
New Composer Igor Verichev.
Mixed media on paper , 63 x 49 cm, 1987
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Portrait of Timur Novikov with Arms consisting of Bones
Mixed media on canvas, 103 x 94 cm, 1988
The State Russian Museum Collection, Saint Petersburg

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: New Composers Valery Alakhov and Igor Verichev, 1985

New Composers Valery Alakhov and Igor Verichev, 1985

Apart from that, Kozlov’s pictures have a unique documentary value for us. In the case of “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones”, for instance, they present some of the earliest documents – if not the first – of a (semi-) public music performance by New Composers Valery Alakhov and Igor Verichev, who contributed with their sound collages.

But what interests us here in particular is the New Artists’ exhibition of collages; whether the exhibition lasted only one evening or continued afterwards, I cannot say. Kozlov took pictures of the public to catch the atmosphere, and the exhibits appear in many of these pictures. A total of 103 shoots have been preserved, and they allow us to reconstruct the exhibition. The works were displayed on four walls, two in the large room and two in the smaller room. We will first have a look at their possible date.

Dating the performances.

The exact dates of the performances have not yet been established. In his article published under the pseudonym of Igor Potapov dated 1985, Timur Novikov simply writes “The event of the 1984/1985 theatrical season was the appearance of a new theater – New Theater”. The article is available in English in the MMOMA exhibition catalogue on p. 106. Novikov is, however, more precise on page two of his typescript catalogue for the exhibition “Happy New Year” from 1986, where he dates the “Ballet” exhibition to 1985, followed by the “Anna Karenina” exhibition, also in 1985. more >>. No mention is made of “The Idiot”, although pictures from “The Idiot” published on pp. 100/101 of the MMOMA catalogue clearly show some paintings hanging. The pictures of this performance are dated 1984, which means that for one reason or another, Timur did not include “The Idiot” into the list of exhibitions. Strangely enough, Ksenia Novikova's chronicle printed in the MMOMA catalogue sets the "Ballet" date to 23 February 1984, stating it as the first performance of the New Composers band (MMOMA, p. 271). The same catalogue entry, 23 February 1984, also refers to the founding of the New Theatre by Erik Goroshevsky, which, as we have seen, already happened in 1982, receiving its premises in 1983. But we can check Novikov’s dating of the “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones”. 

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: "Teddy Boys" in front of E. Kozlov's collages with, among others, pictures from "Fashion Show" and "Good Evening Gustav" 1985

"Teddy Boys" in front of E. Kozlov's collages with, among others, pictures from "Fashion Show" and "Good Evening Gustav"
1985

Kozlov’s pictures allow us to indicate the earliest possible date for “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones”. They present several of his photo-collages assembled with photos from concerts and other happenings; accordingly, the “Ballet” must have taken place following these. More specifically, we are talking about pictures of “Fashion Show” at the ASSA Gallery from late 1984, employed for the large untitled collage triptych, and the “Teddy Party” which led to Kozlov’s leporello “Good Evening Gustav”. According to Ivetta Pomerantseva, this party took place in October or November 1984. A picture from this party with Georgy Guryanov and Ivetta Pomerantseva is also present in the collage triptych.

Given the fact that it must have taken Kozlov some time to produce these works before displaying them at the “The Ballet of the Three Inseparable Ones”, it seems reasonable to date this happening to November 1984 or later. In fact, one of the exhibits at the “Ballet” was Vadim Ovchinnikov’s collage “We”, and the MMOMA catalogue assigns it to the year 1985 (p.67). If the dating is correct, this would mean early 1985, because, according to Dmitry Volchek, the two “Zavernyaev” performances, “Anna Karenina” and “The Idiot”, were staged in the spring of 1985. (Там, где шуршат платья, 2011 http://oteatre.info/tam-gde-shurshat-platja).

Early 1985 therefore seems an acceptable date for the "Ballet" performance – perhaps 23 February, 1985 instead of 23 February, 1984. 23 February was an important Soviet holiday: Soviet Army and Navy Day, День Советской Армии и Военно-Морского Флота (today: Defender of the Fatherland Day), also considered "Men's Day". Staging an absurd performance on this very day could have been something to be remembered.

Still, Volchek’s account is not congruent with the dating of the “Idiot” pictures in the MMOMA catalogue. Comparing relevant documentation from private archives might allow us to solve the contradictions.

The exhibition

It was common for the New Artists to present their works during concerts or other activities in those few semi-private spaces available to them, such as the Erik Goroshesky Theatre. Yet the Collage Exhibition is interesting in that is follows a well-defined concept – it presents only collages. An exception is Novikov’s portrait of Erik Goroshevsky on the wall behind the stage, a painting from 1984, but I would assume that this portrait was a permanent exhibit in honour of the theatre’s artistic director. Ksenia Novika's Chronicle of New Artists exhibitions states an exhibition of collages for the year 1984 at the ASSA Gallery with Vadim Ovchinnikov, Timur Novikov, Evgenij Kozlov, Oleg Kotelnikov, Kirill Khazanovich, Sergei Bugaev (MMOMA, 2012, p. 272), and it might relate to the exhibition discussed here, as two of Kozlov's works have been documented at the ASSA gallery in 1984; further information is given on pp. 2 and 3 of this article.

Of a total of eighteen works (without the painting), nine were by Kozlov, two by Vadim Ovchinnikov, and another two by Oleg Kotelnikov. The remaining five works of (including two offset posters) need to be identified.





Uploaded 1 April, 2018
Last updated 28 November 2018