(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.     Berlin                                                  


      Leningrad 1980s

• Sergey Kuryokhin and Pop Mekhanika – all documents
• Сергей Курёхин и Поп-механика – все документы


Sergey Kuryokhin: Improvisations and Performances

by Hannelore Fobo, September 2017

Part One

• page 1 • Preliminary Remarks

• page 2 • Hans Kumpf and Sergey Kuryokhin

• page 3 • 1980-1981: the first meetings

• page 4 • Leningrad Collective Improvisations 1983: pictures and text

• page 5 • Leningrad Collective Improvisations 1983: music

Leningrad Collective Improvisations: documents and audio files

• page 6 • Hans Kumpf: description of the first part.

• page 7 • Sergey Kuryokhin: Introduction (4min 37s) to the first part. Audio recording and transcription with English translation.

• page 8 • Timur Novikov and Ivan Sotnikov: utiugon. Pictures and audio recording (4min 12s).

• page 9 • Sergey Kuryokhin: introductions to the second part. Transcription with English translation and six audio fragments.

• page 10 • Reference list


Part Two

Pop Mekhanika in the West (forthcoming)


Part One

In August 1983, German clarinetist and journalist Hans Kumpf met with Leningrad musicians and artists for a free jazz and punk session at the Club 81; Vladimir Boluchevsky (saxophone), Igor Butman (saxophone), Arkady Dragomeshenko (poetry), Vyacheslav Gayvoronsky (trumpet), Boris Grebenshikov (guitar and "small" instruments), Alexander Kondrashkin (percussion), Sergey Kuryokhin (saxophone), Sergey Letov (saxophone, bass clarinet), Timur Novikov (utiugon), Ivan Sotnikov (utiugon), and Vladimir Volkov (bass). Most musiscians and artists present would join Kuryokhin's revolutionary ‘Pop Mekhanika’ concerts, which had a huge impact on Leningrad's cultural scene from the very beginning, in 1984.





During the session, Ivan Sotnikov and Timur Novikov presented their now famous ‘utiugon’. The name utiugon [утюгон] comes from “utiug“ [утюг], or flat iron, and in this case specifically refers to vintage cast iron flat irons.[7] In his lecture at the Pro Arte Institute, Saint Petersburg, in March 2002, Timur Novikov explained it in the following way: “The utiugon was a sound generating device. It was a tabletop from which irons had been hung on special strings; the irons swung freely and hit each other. It sufficed to push this contraption once for it to produce very strange sounds for half an hour, sounds that were amplified electronically.”[8]

In his interview with Ekaterina Andreeva from 2004, Arkady Dragomoshenko also stresses the fact the flat irons did not have to swing continuously to produce sounds: “The utiugon was humming and the jittering sound of music was progressing on its own. One just had to touch the edge of the table from which the flat irons were hanging on strings. It could play on its own and resonate up to half an hour” more Kuryokhin, footnote 14.

Half an hour seems to be an exceptionally long resounding time for a vibration induced by a single impulse, and it would be interesting to have the duration of the resonation tested.

The video from 2009 The First Russian Analogue Synthesizer shows an utiugon replica, but we do not hear it playing “on its own”. Artists Oleg Kotelnikov and Ivan Sotnikov are both continually operating the instrument, beating the wood with a hammer, playing the strings with a bow and pushing the flat irons to keep them swinging like a pendulum (they are too heavy to be freely swinging back and forth for any considerable amount of time).[9] Yet, the sound is rather dull and quite unlike the wailing recorded and described by Hans Kumpf in 1983.

more on page 4: Leningrad Collective Improvisations: pictures and text >>

Pictures published on the page are by Hans Kumpf and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov



Ivan Sotnikov, Timur Novikov, Utiugon / Утюгон Photo: Hans Kumpf, 1983

Ivan Sotnikov, Timur Novikov, Utiugon / Утюгон
Photo: Hans Kumpf, 1983

Two limp and lanky figures, one of them neatly dressed in a three-piece-suit, drag in a wooden table. They are carrying it upside down, with amplifiers, speakers, etc. on top of it. A session is about to begin in the LTO-81 Club, the temporary home of the unorthodox Leningrad literati. In the fuggy room without wallpaper Timur Novikov and Ivan Sotnikov put the table back on its feet and prepare it for the session. Old irons are hung from it with chords, metal bars are fixed to it, a knife is stuck into its edge. Connection with the amplifier is provided by a pick-up microphone.

Dull, shrieking and rattling patterns of sound are echoing out of the speakers while the various metal parts are set vibrating. The two 'zero musicians' , as they are called by their colleagues, practise a denial of all melodic and rhythmic conventions. But despite their rebellion they prove to have a sense of musical communication and sensitive interaction. After the concert, the two musicians go back home - no one knows where they live and when they will show up again.

And they, themselves, certainly don't know that in the West, too, there are people experimenting with metal objects, only with better electronic equipment…

Read Hans Kumpf's article from 1983 in German >>, first published in the German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten on 26 August 1983.
The English version was first published in ‘Russian Jazz: New Identity, ed. Leo Feigin, Quartet Books, 1986.
Read the article
in English >>

The utiugon at the Leningrad Collective Improvisations 1983

Vladimir Boluchevsky (left). Ivan Sotnikov and Timur Novikov connecting the 'utiugon˚ to the amplifier
Club 81, August 1983, Leningrad • Photo: Hans Kumpf

Vladimir Boluchevsky, Timur Novikov, Arkady Dragomoshenko (bottom right)
Club 81, August 1983, Leningrad • Photo: Hans Kumpf

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Ivan Sotnikov, Timur Novikov (standing at the 'utiugon˚)
in the foreground Igor Butman (left) and Boris Grebenshikov (right)
Club 81, August 1983, Leningrad • Photo: Hans Kumpf

Boris Grebenshikov (with radio) and Ivan Sotnikov (with 'utiugon˚)
Club 81, August 1983, Leningrad • Photo: Hans Kumpf

Boris Grebenshikov (with radio) and Ivan Sotnikov (with 'utiugon˚)
Club 81, August 1983, Leningrad • Photo: Hans Kumpf


Boris Grebenshikov, Ivan Sotnikov, and Timur Novikov
Club 81, August 1983, Leningrad • Photo: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Boris Grebenshikov, Ivan Sotnikov, and Timur Novikov Photo: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, 1983
Boris Grebenshikov, Ivan Sotnikov, and Timur Novikov
Club 81, August 1983, Leningrad • Photo: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov




The utiugon is again documented in pictures from the so-called “Medical Concert” in December 1983 at the Dostoyevsky Museum, where it has already partially changed its look. The date of this concert is taken from Sergey Chubraev’s “Chronicle”, but according to Chubraev’s email from 4 September 2017, it is approximate more Kuryokhin, footnote 17. It might even have taken place before the meeting in August 1983. In his lecture at the Pro Arte Institute (March 2002), Timur Novikov inverts the sequence of the “Medical concert” and the collective improvisations at the Club 81: “…and the next utiugon performance took place at their space on Pyotr Lavrov”. (Novikov, Timur “The New Artists” in Timur. Edited by Ekaterina Andreeva, Ksenia Novikova and Nelly Podgorskaya. Moscow: Moscow Museum of Modern Art, 2013, p. 121.)

'Medical Concert˚ with 'Utiugon˚
Dostoyevsky Museum, December 1983, Leningrad




Its further history is not quite clear. Although Timur Novikov defined it as part of the “industrial section” of Pop Mekhanika, I haven’t seen it in any Pop Mekhanika pictures or videos. Joanna Stingray filmed an utiugon in 1985 or 1986 at Timur’s studio “ASSA” and included this sequence into her video “Red Wave Exhibit Film” [13], but it is again different from the "prototype“. The first utiugon had only three flat irons, hanging from one side of the tabletop. The utiugon from Stingray’s video is made with a different table and has no tabletop. It displays four flat irons and a number of additional steel balls hanging on strings. Timur Novikov used it as percussion instrument, without an amplifier, beating the wooden frame and the strings with drum sticks. In other words, the flat irons had become dysfunctional.

Film still with 'Utiugon˚ from Joanna Stingray's video 'Red Wave Exhibit Film˚, 1985 or 1986
approx. at 10:00 min. Available at https://vimeo.com/151329868
Timur Novikov's studio ('ASSA Gallery'), Leningrad


Film still with 'Utiugon˚ from Joanna Stingray's video 'Red Wave Exhibit Film˚, 1985 or 1986
approx. at 10:00 min. Available at https://vimeo.com/151329868
Timur Novikov's studio ('ASSA Gallery'), Leningrad


Two later replicas are again “functional”, but different in size and also with regard to the number of flat irons – approximately ten.



Video of an ‘Utiugon’ performance with a replica of the first ’utiugon’
played by Oleg Kotelnikov and Ivan Sotnikov
“Первый русский аналоговый синтезатор, Вечер УТЮГОНА в ГЭЗ-21 10 сентября 2009”
[The First Russian Analogue Synthesizer. An Evening with the Utiugon a the GEZ-21. 10 September 2009
Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czhefishKu
x

Film still from the video
“Первый русский аналоговый синтезатор, Вечер УТЮГОНА в ГЭЗ-21 10 сентября 2009”
[The First Russian Analogue Synthesizer. An Evening with the Utiugon a the GEZ-21. 10 September 2009
Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czhefishKuE

Below:

Exhibtion ‘Notes from the Underground’, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland, 2016.

A replica of Ivan Sotnikov‘s and Timur Novikov’s Utiugon from 2014, reconstructed in London after a design by Ivan Sotnikov, now in the collection of Anya Stonelake.

Paintings by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov:
"Love for Work" (1990), "Portrait of Oleg Kotelnikov with Moustache, Crocodile and Dot" (1988), Shark (1988)

more about the exhibition >>

Photo: Hannelore Fobo, 2016

 A replica of Ivan Sotnikov‘s and Timur Novikov’s Utiugon at the exhibtion ‘Notes from the Underground’, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland, 2016.  Paintings by (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: "Love for Work" (1990), "Portrait of Oleg Kotelnikov with Moustache, Crocodile and Dot" (1988), Shark (1988) Photo: Hannelore Fobo, 2016


Last up-dated: 1 October 2017

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