Becoming a poet

«The world is suffering in action. The core of the world is the core of suffering. All existence is growth and compression. Things suffer until they begin to be. Non-existence, before becoming a being, shudders in pain … »

«Inflicting one wound after another, the life alternates deceit with open cruelty. One must be able to recognize them. Exercise. Study these forms thoroughly on your own experience. Understand what is the difference and what is common between them. Then many contradictions will be resolved by themselves. This will add to your words strength and insight.»

Michel Houellebecq. «The Configuration of the Final Shore», Paris: Editions de différences, 1991

French poet and writer Michel Houellebecq was not the first to believe that suffering always accompanies life and work of a poet. However, it is he who not only openly acknowledges, but also obsessively cultivates this principle in his book «The Configuration of the Final Shore». His poems are imbued with melancholy, despair and contempt for the world and being. In the preface to his book, Houellebecq gives a kind of instruction to a hypothetical future poet, preparing him for the inevitable immersion into the abyss of suffering, neurosis, self-destruction in the name of approaching the truth. In his suffering, the poet is doomed to loneliness and aversion to the world, from which he draws inspiration.

The telegram bot «Becoming a poet» is based on the poems of Michel Houellebecq and contains quotes that can immerse a person in a similar state in which he is possibly capable of creativity. We assume that novice poets, thinkers, and curious people will turn to the bot in moments of their creative crisis in order to support self-analysis and productive reflection on the world.

by Tatiana Kirianova



Informal culture of Leningrad 1980s had a significant impact on the subsequent development of St. Petersburg and domestic art in general. Its consequences are tangible and, until now, much of what is happening in contemporary art of St. Petersburg has grown precisely from the 1980s, from the culture created by this generation. One of the most important things of this movement is intercultural and interdisciplinary of this process. It is important to note that the attempt to institutionalize different informal groups at that time led to the emergence of institutional criticism in art. This hypertext presents the art of 1980s in Leningrad in its connections with social, political context. Also it shows the connections between different parts of artistic activities, connection with the processes taking place in European and American art, origins of creativity and innovations. As it was like a network of different groups, artists, musicians, theatrical performers etc., hypertext also is like a  metaphor of all this intercultural process and its connection with further development of Russian art.

by Polina Popova

Hommage to Marcel Broodthaers (by Polina Popova)

This work represents two main things artistic practice of Marcel Broodthaers. He started to work as an artist when he was forty and his creative activity continued only for twelve years from 1964 to 1972. Broodthaers was a poet, but observing, as he said, “that artists were doing the same thing as him with the significant difference that they were making money, he had decided to become an artist”[1]. His first work as an artist in 1964 was to put the remaining copies of the edition of his last poetry into the plaster. This sculpture called the same as his poetry edition Pense-Bete was the way to oppose to his works as a poet. That’s why this work represents and reminds the first artwork by Broodthaers as a visual artist. But since that time words and objects remained closely connected in his artworks. B. Buchloh said that “this transformation from poet to artist, exemplified in an allegorical model, revealed that it is necessary to eliminate the reading in order to conserve the material status of the sign as an object”[2]. Four years between 1968 and 1972 Broodthaers developed his big project – a fictional “Museum of Modern Art”, provided an extended institutional critique. Presented work reminds about the first part of the museum “The Department of Eagles, Nineteenth Century Section”, presented in 1968 in artist’s flat in Dusseldorf, later in 1972 contained over 250 artefacts borrowed from collections around the world. In the way of organization of these objects artist cut across the normal system of classification such as age, function, location etc. He questioned how far the rational of such groupings might contribute to the meaning of the individual items which they contain. He wanted it to be the place of communication and free association but not the storage of artefacts. The idea of eagle for Broodthaers was not only symbol of power and authority, representing the idea of only one form of the truth in museums. Also “for him there was what he called an “identity of the eagle as idea and art as ides”[3].

[1]Michael Archer. Art Since 1960. New edition.  NY. Thames&Hudson . 2002. P. 83

[2] Benjamin Buchloh. The museum fictions of Marcel Broodthaers// Museums by Artists. 1983.  P. 52

[3] Rosalind Krauss. “A voyage on art in the age of the North Sea”. Art in the age of Post-Medium Condition. NY. Thames&Hudson. 1999.  P. 12

Instruction by Vlad Guzevich (translated and annotated by Polina Popova)

Soviets for those, who are going to take a brush

(if you took a brush –  it means that you are the artist) by Vlad GuzevichГуцевич003

  1. Before using a new paint carefully wash the brush in turpentine
  2. To avoid dirt, it is better to take already primed canvas. You need to pull the canvas on the stretcher yourself.
  3. Tube and turpentine hold on the dais (table, sketchbox, easel). You will not step on, and there will be less scandals.
  4. You should buy a turpentine in a special store for artists. It smells better. It is even better to buy a pinene. But it is expensive. You can buy a laundry soap. But this should not be done. The sink will be like a palette.
  5. Brush change, only when the previous spend up to the skeleton. Old brush allows you to create a completely different painting, than it was with soft and elastic new one.
  6. You should store a rag in advance. It’s bad when the rag becomes tough and you couldn’t correct your painting with turpentine. Dirty rag with turpentine smears a picture. So you always need to have a clean rag.
  7. Don’t draw when you are drunk.
  8. The main thing is to draw as you know how, because it seems like it will not work anyway.
  9. It is better not to mix paint. You always know which tube to use to draw, refine and clean up. Sometimes when you mix paints, it turns out beautifully. But sometimes when you mix pure and noble colors of paint, the sickening color can turn out. That’s why you need a lot of rags.
  10. You could also don’t use a palette. Firstly you will spend less paint, secondly, if the palette falls, it will dirty the parquet. If you lay under the feet of a newspaper, they will interfere. A lot of inconvenient
  11. It is necessary to close the scepter and tubes with paint after use immediately. Also you should paint the whole picture at once. You can not go to sleep until you finish.  Otherwise you will never finish.
  12. Just sit and admire your paintings before you’ll start painting. They don’t look like something or somebody else. Then immediately start painting.
  13.  Yes, that’s all, actually!

Vlad Guzevich is poet, artist, writer, head of  “Friends of V. Mayakovsky club”.  In 1980s he was member of “New artists” group founded and headed by Timur Novikov. They were not professional artists and couldn’t be members of Soviet Artists Union, that’s why they were not aloud to buy artistic goods, such as oil painting, canvas etc.  All artists from these group created paintings in neoexpressionist style with such strange materials as construction paint using polyethylene, oilcloth or upholstery fabric as base.  Also “New artists” group were involved in impressive underground cultural life of Leningrad in 1980s, when different types of artistic activities were interconnected and influenced on each other. “New artists” were connected with Leningrad Rock club, “Popular mechanics” by S. Kuryokhin, “New composers”, “Necrorealists”, “New literature”. In 1986 “Friends of V. Mayakovsky club” was officially registered as “amateur association”, it included members of all the above unofficial underground groups. The establishment of the club was one of the first attempts in the years of “perestroika” to institutionalize the informal culture and to begin negotiations with the authorities on the provision of club premises and on legal public activities. They wrote pseudo-bureaucratic texts about artistic practices including different instructions, critical articles and letters to state officials which was creative game with late soviet bureaucratic artistic system. When Soviet Union was destroyed “Friends of V. Mayakovsky club” continued to be group of artists, poets and writers. This instruction written by Vlad Guzevich is the example of his present activity. It represents the humorous and critical attitude to the traditional perception of the painter and traditional art institutions.


“Museum steps” (sound poetry) by Polina Popova


This hypertext game offers to embark on an exciting journey through the tangled world of psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan. Desires, needs, instincts, personality formation, our relations with parents, all of this becomes the object of reflection and classification of Lacan’s theory. Moving from one concept to another, revealing the connections between them, the reader learns to know himself through self-analysis. In conjunction with the participant, hypertext replaces the analyst’s figure.

Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalysis is one of the most complex among modern psychoanalytic theories. Thinking in detail about the nature of desire and needs, Lacan introduces several highly abstract and speculative pseudo-mathematical concepts such as the Other, the “a” object, the Borromean knot, etc., the understanding of which requires extremely careful attention to the terminology. Hypertext structure allows you to move from the explanation of one term to another, gradually immersing into the depths of Lacanian knowledge.

Start to play

Performing erasure

This work is an artifact found in a St. Petersburg apartment belonging to one of the leading traders of Gazprombank. On the shelves next to books by Leskov, Ilf and Petrov and orthodox christian literature, a book by a liberal poet Dmitry Bykov was found. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a cache for storing a bundle of 100 dollar bills.

Demonstrating this object, the artist, on the one hand, considers the process of creating this artifact as erasure of meanings embodied in the text of Dmitry Bykov and deliberately crudely displacing them with the material space.

On the other hand, this common gesture unwittingly brings to the surface the place of a book in capitalist society as another tool for making money. The meaning of the book is literally replaced by its function as an economic product.

Further, Dmitriy Bykov’s book “The Calendar” contains reflections on certain events from the birth of Jack London in 1976 to the birth of Dima Bilan in 1981 described in chronological order. Thus, it contains cultural memory significant for Bykov and his generation. Erasing fragments of this text can be viewed as erasure of memories by materiality. Replacing book pages with banknotes evokes certain associations with processes occurring in culture, rewriting history for the sake of economic and political interests in particular.