Category Archives: arts/letters

EDITORIAL: Mickey Mouse, Banned in Russia

EDITORIAL

Mickey Mouse, Banned in Russia

In 1995 the Russian artist Alexander Savko painted a series of images interposing the face of Mickey Mouse onto famous historical scenes, like the one above.

Last week, a Russian court determined that Savko’s image of the Sermon on the Mount with Mickey Mouse (shown after the jump) was “extremist” and illegal and banned it from public display.

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Мы сегодня в цирк поедем!

Мы сегодня в цирк поедем!
На арене нынче снова
С дрессированным Медведем
Укротитель дядя Вова.
От восторга цирк немеет!
Хохочу, держась за папу,
А Медведь рычать не смеет,
Лишь сосет потешно лапу,
Сам себя берет за шкирки,
Важно кланяется детям.
До чего забавно в цирке
С дядей Вовой и Медведем!

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Under Putin, Russia Culture Perishes

The Associated Press reports:

A squirrel tail. Wolf teeth. Sheets of gold. Flax oil.

These are the things Vladimir Buldakov uses to work a feat of modern-day alchemy: transforming an ordinary papier-mache box into a gilded miniature masterpiece that will tell the story of saints or heroes, fairies or dragons.

Buldakov comes from Palekh, a 700-year-old Russian village where a church’s lavender onion-domes overlook snow-clad houses, a frozen river and a distant birch forest. The town is famous for its beauty, but the rare outsiders who visit come for the varnished boxes that bear its name.

Now, the unique art form, which emerged in the 1920s after the atheist Bolsheviks approved a new medium in which masters of religious icon paintings could use their talents, is struggling to find a reason to exist in capitalist society.

If it disappears entirely, its stunted lifespan will bear vivid testament to the twists of Russia’s turbulent recent history. And Russia will lose one if its hallmark trinkets, the product of an astonishingly high-skilled process.

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EDITORIAL: Russia is so Cute

EDITORIAL

Russia is so Cute

Film director Timur Bekmambetov (“Night Watch” and “Day Watch“) was thrilled last week to learn that his latest movie “Yolki” had become the  the most successful Russian movie over the last three years. The movie’s box office take “surpassed everyone’s expectations, including ours,” Ruslan Tatarintsev, the film’s marketing and distribution director, told The Hollywood Reporter. He added: “The main reason for the success was that we had a quality product that people wanted to watch.”

It was all lies.

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Nazis and Russians, Birds of a Sordid Feather

A movie review in The New Yorker shows the horrifying similarity of behavior between Russians and Nazis during World War II. In fact, it’s easily arguable that the Nazis were not as a bad as the Russians when it came to murdering innocent people in Eastern Europe:

Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah,” the shattering nine-hour documentary about the Holocaust, which was first shown in New York in 1985, has, on its twenty-fifth anniversary, reopened here and will soon appear in museums, universities, and select theatres across the country. Back in 1985, the film left me bruised and sore, moved by its clarifying passions and its electrifying rhetoric, and amazed by its revolutionary form. Lanzmann, a French filmmaker and intellectual journalist, omitted photographs, newsreels, and documents (all the usual historical materials), and, instead, reconstructed the past from what remained of it in the present.

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Annals of the Neo-Soviet Art Crackdown

Yana Plucer-Sarno of the Voina art collective

A scathing item on ArtInfo by Yana Plucer-Sarno, editor of the Voina art collective, condemns the outrageous neo-Soviet crackdown on art:

Voina is a well-known group of Russian artists that engages in radical street protest actions. These artists have protested against the total elimination of freedom of speech, against the violation of human rights, and against the utter liquidation of democracy that have taken place in Russia in recent years.

In their manifesto, the group proclaims that its main goal is to create a new contemporary art language for the sake of pure art — and not for money. Within Russia, they want to create a real left-wing art movement in the best traditions of the Russian Futurism of the 1920s. They aim to trigger a revival of political protest art around the world. Voina struggles against the climate of socio-political obscurantism and right-wing reaction that has overtaken Russia.

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EDITORIAL: Russia is Snob Nation

EDITORIAL

Russia is Snob Nation

A recent item in the New Yorker magazine reveals Russia descending to yet another new low.  It discusses the latest venture of the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who has chosen to invest vast sums in American, rather than Russian, professional basketball.  It is a magazine called Snob that the New Yorker describes as  looking “like a cross between Tatler and The New York Review of Books, printed on the kind of paper stock usually reserved for royal invitations” with “an alarming cover price of eight dollars.”  The New Yorker attended its opening night in New York City, and described it as follows:

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