Aleksandar Bošković - A Constructivist Cinépoem: Rozhkov's photomontages for Maiakovskii's poem “To the Workers of Kursk”

On The October 14, 2019

10h00 to 12h00
26, Place Bellecour - 69002 Lyon
Salle de réunion - Allée A - 1er étage

In 1924 the self-taught artist Iurii Nikolaevich Rozhkov created a series of photomontages inspired by Vladimir Maiakovskii’s propagandistic ode to labor, “To the Workers of Kursk,” and the geological discovery of the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly (KMA), the biggest iron-ore basin in the world. The series was first shown at the “Twenty Years of Work” exhibition in January 1930, which the poet himself curated. In the exhibition catalogue, Maiakovskii made note of Rozhkov’s work as: “A temporary monument. Rozhkov’s montages. To be printed.” Two months after the exhibition Maiakovskii committed suicide. Rozhkov’s photomontages remained unpublished during his lifetime.

The talk introduces Rozhkov’s less-known photomontage series as a new model of the avant-garde cinépoetry book, which offers a sequential reading of Maiakovskii's poem and functions as a cinematic dispositive of the early Soviet agitprop apparatus (dispositif). Bošković argues that the photopoem itself converts into an idiosyncratic avant-garde de-mountable memorial to the working class: a dynamic ciné-dispositive through which the early agitprop apparatus is realized in lived experience, reproduced, and transformed, thus delineating its shift towards the new dispositif of the late 1920s—socialist realism.

Bio: Aleksandar Bošković is a Lecturer in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian in the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University. He is a fellow of the Collegium de Lyon 2019-2020.

Photo caption:
Iurii Nikolaevich Rozhkov. One of the sixteen sheets from the photomontage series for Vladimir Maiakovskii’s “To the Workers of Kursk” (1924). The State Literary Museum (GLM), Moscow. Courtesy of Kira Matissen.