(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.v Berlin
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Leningrad 80s • No.115 >>
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Catherine Mannick, and Hannelore Fobo papers, 1979-2022 (inclusive)
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection Harvard University>>
USA-CCCP. Points of Contact
In 2022, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection at Harvard University received an outstanding donation related to the last decade of the Soviet Union: the correspondence (1979-1990) between Catherine Mannick, then a student from Boston, and artist (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, a leading member of the Leningrad avant-garde art group The New Artists. Artworks Kozlov sent his friend and other artefacts complete the donation.
The correspondence is now entitled “USA-CCCP. Points of Contact”. The title is a reference to one of Kozlov’s paintings from 1989, where the artist synthesised the polarity between the two superpowers, overcoming Cold War through art.
The letters, endowed by their authors together with the related gifts, have been contextualised by Hannelore Fobo, a German specialist on Leningrad’s alternative culture of the 1980s.
Catherine Mannick is a former international lawyer who spent 20 years of her career representing U.S. businesses in the countries of the former Soviet Union. She is currently a member of the Davis Center’s Advisory Board. Catherine has an undergraduate degree in Russian Studies from Yale University and a J.D from Harvard Law School. She also earned an M.A. in history from Harvard University, where she was a tutor in the History and Literature Department, focusing on Imperial Russian History. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Padua, Italy.
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, born 1955 in Leningrad, lives and works in Berlin. He was a participant of the 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013). His works are in international collections and museums, among them Tate Modern, London, Centre Pompidou, Paris, The Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, The Berlin House of Representatives, and The Wende Museum, California.
“USA-CCCP. Points of Contact” touches personal matters as well as that of Soviet underground artists and musicians exploring the new possibilities of perestroika. Numerous pictures Kozlov sent Mannick and other gifts from those years complement the letters – most importantly, Kozlov’s works of art, some being an integral part of a letter. They offer a wide range of stylistic and technical approaches: pencil, gouache and watercolour drawings, monotype prints, objects, and collages, as well as elaborately painted photographs of his artist friends and of Mannick. Together with Kozlov’s diaries (1979-1983), also now at the Davis Center Special Collection, this unique contribution to the history of US-Russian relations can be accessed on-site at Fung Library, archived as “(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Catherine Mannick, and Hannelore Fobo papers, 1979-2022 (inclusive)”.
The variety of questions discussed in the correspondence and the abundance of original artefacts offer multiple research topics for art-historians as well as for historians exploring different aspects of US-Soviet relations.
To facilitate research, Hannelore Fobo published Kozlov’s letters on his website at www.e-e.eu/USA-CCCP-Points-of-Contact-correspondence >>, setting them into their historical context. Each letter has been presented with a detailed introduction, the corresponding works of art and their history, a transcription of the handwritten text, and additional pictures, in the main from Kozlov’s and Fobo’s archives.
Researchers can retrieve further information by following the links to articles Fobo has published on Kozlov’s website under the heading Leningrad 80s >>. More than one hundred articles about private and public exhibitions, performances, artist groups and clubs, experimental music, unofficial recordings, and more make Leningrad 80s the largest available English language online resource on this extremely productive period of Leningrad’s independent art and music scene, to which Kozlov was intrinsically tied.
Catherine Mannick and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov started exchanging letters immediately after they first met in Leningrad in the summer of 1979. The young American had studied Russian in college, and before taking up her law studies at Harvard, she visited the Soviet Union together with her friend Ann; the correspondence, written in Russian continued up to 1990. While Kozlov kept the vast majority of Mannick’s letters – fifty-seven all in all – his friend chiefly kept those related to his art, for instance double cards with a painted collage on the cover.
The total number of Kozlov’s letters preserved, some in a fragmentary way, amounts to eighteen. They also include a telegram and some notes, but for the sake of simplicity, in my nomenclature, all written documents go as “letters”, numbered alphabetically from A to R in chronological order. The nomenclature of Mannick’s letters, on the other hand, follows Kozlov’s own system of Arabic numerals from 1 to 48, with a sub-series to Letter 14 of seven letters sent from Moscow and a subseries of two documents to Letter 35. This makes it easy to assign a specific document or quote to either Kozlov (eg. “Letter G”) or Mannick (eg. “Letter 25”). In the letters, they both address each other by their short names, as this is common for private relationships in Russia – Женя, Zhenya for Евгений, Yevgueni or Evgenij, as Kozlov himself transliterates his name, and Катя, Katya or Katia, for Catherine. (In the 1990s, Kozlov started using his birth-name Evgenij). For the sake of variation, Kozlov occasionally used different forms or wrote the names in English, Catherine / Eugene (Letter B, 1980)
Mannick’s letters often display three different dates: the day she wrote them, the date stamped by the US post office on the envelope, and the date stamped by the post office the Leningrad borough where Kozlov lived (Petrodvorets / Peterhof), marking the letter’s arrival before it was delivered it to the addressee.
These dates helped reconstruct the chronology of the correspondence, which I did in 2021, after Catherine Mannick sent me photographic reproductions of Kozlov’s documents, pictures, and art. Those of Kozlov’s letters missing a date – because the corresponding page is no longer available – could be dated approximately by their content. On average, letters from Boston to Peterhof and vice versa took three weeks, and messages sometimes crossed each other.
Statistically, the distribution of Kozlov’s archived letters per year is 1.5 – one and a half letters for each of the eleven years of the correspondence – twelve, if we fully count the first and the last years. Factually, there is a focus on 1986 with five letters, while many years are documented with a single letter and one (1981) with none, The factual distribution would change if one took into account those letters that have not been preserved; we know of their existence because they are mentioned in Catherine Mannick’s correspondence. I haven’t counted them, but noticed that in terms of Kozlov’s total number of messages, the first years outnumbered Mannick’s letters and the years up to 1986 were more prolific than the late 1980s. The frequency of Mannick’s writing also somewhat decreases towards the later years. This corresponds to the fact that up to 1986, Kozlov and Mannick were able to occasionally meet. Then there was a break until 1990, which saw some last encounters in Moscow and Leningrad.
Numerous photographs in Mannick‘s archive – Kozlov’s and Mannick’s slides and Kozlov’ black and white vintage prints with short notes on the reverse – illustrate the correspondence. Some of the prints constitute at once pages of a letter, with texts on the reverse. Mannick kept most of Kozlov’s vintage prints in a box of their own and preserved the slides in a digital format on a hard disc, although some were also printed. In many cases, such “loose” pictures could be connected to specific letters.
In 2022, Mannick’s letters kept in Kozlov’s archive and Kozlov’s letters and notes kept in Mannick’s archive joined each other at Fung Library, where they are now part of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection. Kozlov’s gifts to Mannick – drawings, paintings, monotype prints, objects (a sculpture and a painted T-shirt), painted photographs, and collages, generously donated by his friend to the Davis Center – make another important contribution to the correspondence.
Together with these gifts and other artefacts, the correspondence is now entitled “USA-CCCP. Points of Contact”. It is a reference to one of Kozlov’s paintings from 1989 which synthesises the polarity between the two superpowers. In this way, Kozlov overcame Cold War through art.
In 2023, to facilitate research, I published Kozlov’s letters online using the photographic and scan reproductions Mannick sent me. Each letter is presented on a separate web page with a transcription of the text, preceded by an introductory text setting it into its historical context and inspiring the chapter headings. Quotes from Kozlov’s and Mannick’s letters were translated into English by myself and by Catherine Mannick, respectively.
Kozlov’s art and photographs for Mannick illustrate the introductions. These images are also from Mannick’s archive. Letter N from 1987 offers a particularly rich context, as perestroika was now affecting the realm of culture, and is therefore discussed on two pages, Letter N Part 1 and Part 2.
Archival (inventory) numbers on the web pages refer to Kozlov’s archive. The registrars at Fung Library use a different nomenclature for all artefacts now in the Davis Center Collection, which will be added to the web pages later.
Additional pictures, in the main from Kozlov’s and my own archives, complete the information. Readers can retrieve further information by following the links to articles I have published on Kozlov’s website under the heading Leningrad 80s >>. More than one hundred articles about private and public exhibitions, performances, artist groups and clubs, experimental music, unofficial recordings, and more make the Leningrad 80s the largest available English language online resource on this extremely productive period of Leningrad’s independent art and music scene, of which Kozlov was a leading member.
A few “loose” photographs from Mannick’s collection are not included in the online letter pages, but the complete material – Catherine Mannick’s letters, all pictures and Kozlov’s gifts, as well as two documents explaining the chronology of the letters – can be accessed on-site at Fung Library. Together with Kozlov’s diaries (1979-1983), they have been archived as “(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Catherine Mannick, and Hannelore Fobo papers, 1979-2022 (inclusive)” more >>.
With the variety of questions it touches and the abundance of original artefacts, “USA-CCCP. Points of Contact” offers interesting research topics not only to art-historians, but to historians exploring different aspects of US-Soviet relations. The following introduction, apart from describing the main features of the correspondence, suggests such topics.
Hannelore Fobo, Berlin, 11 February 2024
Published 18 February 2024