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Sharing public space: the artistic reviews of Soviet and Émigré Russians in Berlin, 1921-26

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The Exhibition “From Russia” at the London Royal Academy earlier this year has refocused public interest on the treasures of Russian art and the manner of its presentation to the West. The tradition of presentation was initiated about a hundred years ago by Sergei Diaghilev in his Russian Seasons in Paris: masterpieces of Russian stage art and choreography exemplified by the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird at the Paris Opéra in 1910. However the most interactive location for the Russians negotiating their art with a Western European public was not 1910 Paris, but 1920s Berlin. During those years, Berlin emerged as the epicenter of Russian creativity: by 1922, the city had become not only the chief centre of Russian publishing, but also the second capital of Russian art. It was here that both soviet and émigré artists, driven from Russia by lack of resources, political pressure, or desire for international collaboration, created for themselves a shared public space where they were able to retain communication with each other and their European counterparts. The intensity of this communication through a variety of review journals is the topic of my proposed paper. I will discuss the interactions in Berlin between soviet and émigré Russians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, as reflected in the art journals Zhar ptisa [The Firebird], Veshch [Object], and Milgroym [Pomegranate]. I will identify their editors as key figures within the dialogue going on at the time between ‘Russia at home’ and ‘Russia in Berlin’, and show how their endeavours were promoted and disseminated by both soviet, émigré, and German publishers. Finally, I will shed light on the mechanisms these interactions relied on, and use them as the starting point for a more general discussion of the interplay between a growing émigré community and the cultural politics of Bolshevism abroad. My observations are based on a study of original artistic publications and archival sources, which I have examined, compared and interpreted. This has revealed a network of mutual interactions, hitherto neglected in the developments of the period under discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008
EventCultural continuity in the diaspora: Paris and Berlin in 1917-1937, the experience of Russian jews in an era of social change - University of Bath
Duration: 8 Sep 200810 Sep 2008


ConferenceCultural continuity in the diaspora: Paris and Berlin in 1917-1937, the experience of Russian jews in an era of social change
CityUniversity of Bath

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