Explodity: Sound, Image, and Word in Russian Futurist Book Art

Nancy Perloff

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The product of close collaborations between poets and painters, the Russian artists’ books created between 1910 and 1915 are like no others. Taking her new book, Explodity, as a launching point, Nancy Perloff will argue that Futurist books were meant to be read, looked at, and listened to. The advanced abstraction of Kazimir Malevich offers a crucial context for manifestos by avant-garde poets Velimir Khlebnikov and Alexei Kruchenykh that dismissed referentiality and advocated the new poetic and phonic language of zaum (beyond the mind). Futurist and Formalist theory provide the basis for close readings of word-image-sound interplay in several Futurist books, including Pomada (Pomade) and Mirskontsa (Worldbackwards). The talk will conclude by considering the wide-ranging legacy of these works in the midcentury global movement of sound and concrete poetry.

(an interactive website which exemplifies the interplay of word-image-sound in Futurist book art through audio recordings, Russian transliterations, and English translations of 10 poems, presented directly within the pages of the artists’ books)

Nancy Perloff (Ph.D. University of Michigan) is curator of modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute (GRI). Trained as a musicologist and as an art historian, she pursues scholarship on the Russian avant-garde, European modernism, and the relationship between music and the visual arts. Her exhibitions at the GRI include Monuments of the Future: Designs by El Lissitzky (1998–99); Sea Tails: A Video Collaboration (2004); Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant-Garde, 1910–1917 (2008–9); and she led the curatorial team for World War I: War of Images, Images of War (2014). Perloff is the author of Art and the Everyday: Popular Entertainment and the Circle of Erik Satie (Oxford, 1991) and coeditor, with Brian M. Reed, of Situating El Lissitzky: Vitebsk, Berlin, Moscow (Getty, 2003). She has written and lectured widely on avant-garde composers such as John Cage and David Tudor. Most recently, she published Explodity: Sound, Image, and Word in Russian Futurist Book Art (Getty, 2016). Her exhibition, Concrete Poetry: Words and Sounds in Graphic Space, was on view at the GRI from March 28 – July 30, 2017.
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When and Where

Map Modern Languages Building - 3308

March 2018

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4:00pm - 6:00pm

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