Not Through Political Resistance But Private Space
An Inner Dialogue
“It [is] very important that Russian Nonconformist art become the future symbol of all that’s new in Russian contemporary art, from the time it was unofficial to through to it’s legalization at the end of the 80s” describes museum Director Olga Sviblova at the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (MAMM.) She established the museum under the patronage of Evgeny Rodchenko as the House of Photography shortly following the collapse of the USSR. This culture existed for the artists themselves and for their friends and they didn’t want to subject themselves to Soviet censorship” she says.
Boris Orlov, Russian Nonconformist artist and close friend of Grisha Bruskin, remembers, “Well, when I came to his studio, I understood at once that definitely I would be friends with this man for a long time. I looked at what he was doing, and after that we were sitting drinking tea for many long hours, and it turned out that we had absolutely similar opinions about many things, in our views on the general situation, on Russian art, in our attitude towards all those officious things of that time.”
“And this simmering incredibly intense cultural space hidden from the public gaze and officialdom, lived on in an inner dialogue,” amazes Sviblova. This inner dialogue expresses itself in many forms of media including literature,” and publisher, Irina Prokharova, is trying to “change the image of the country” with Russian Nonconformism. “People know of horror stories about mafia, oligarchs, corruption, bureacracy, old stereotypes about the mystical Russian soul,” but “the most interesting and striking thing in the Soviet experience is this parallel culture that had its readers and buyers with a sophisticated and secretive system of dissemination of knowledge, and in my opinion, it is this unique experience that is not yet described and widely understood.”
Irina Prokharova began her publishing house, The New Literary Observer, in 1992 and adds, “I think that for understanding how the Soviet society gradually matured and could finally destroy the rigidity of the Soviet existence, it is important to understand that resistance to the Soviet system would most often pass not through political resistance, but through an attempt to expand private space.” The company published four books written by Grisha Bruskin and now also publishes The Emergency Ration and The Journal of Dress, Body, and Culture. “What I find interesting about Bruskin’s work is first, it is very striking prose, and secondly the phenomenon that nonconformist art set the foundation for modern literature” Prokharova adds, “but unfortunately this is not widely known abroad or even in Russia.”
Archival worked with Grisha Bruskin at CDM Studios in New York to record some of his published memoirs to develop into the script for The Frozen Theater also included a few works from writers that have inspired him such as Anna Akhmatova and Rainer Maria Rilke.