(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.v Berlin
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: ART>> Leningrad 80s • No.109 >>
(Е-Е) ЕВГЕНИЙ КОЗЛОВ • (E-E) EVGENIJ KOZLOV
Oбложкa альбома группы КИНО (1984)
Hannelore Fobo, April 2022
Postscript, by Hannelore Fobo (in English)
The journey of E-E Kozlov’s original cover from 1984 continues. It was recently acquired by Sergey Chubraev (Сергей Чубраев), a Saint Petersburg collector of documents and artefacts related to the Soviet Underground or unofficial cultural scene. See also: Sergey Chubraev at the Muze Sztuki Lodz, 2016 >>
In an interview published by the Russian internet journal “Music Life” on 31 March, 2022, Chubraev speaks about Viktor Tsoy's songs and lyrics, specifically mentioning his magnitizdat (reel-to-reel) collection of KINO’s early albums and E-E Kozlov's album cover:
The main item [of Tsoy-related items in my collection] today is the design of a cover produced for the vinyl album "The Chief of Kamchatka": a hand-made collage specially created by Evgenij Kozlov at the request of Tsoy and the Kino group. The uniqueness of this work consists in the way it actually constitutes the only bright and colourful colour double-sided cover issued for an underground band. Clearly, at that time you could only dream about making an actual vinyl record. external link
The interview ends with Chubraev’s project of founding a New Centre for Contemporary Art with storage facilites for archival materials equipped with new technologies. As the first of its kind in Russia, it would not only bring together objects that have already acquired monetary value, such as E-E Kozlov’s album cover for KINO’s Nachalnik Kamchatki, but, most importantly, those unidentified and in risk of getting lost. As the protagonists of the Soviet Underground are retiring, one by one, to the other world, their children dispose of all those letters, diaries, pictures, cassettes, tapes, and other strange collectibles stored in boxes, cupboards, and bookshelves crammed in tiny apartments or even garden sheds. Such a Centre would also provide the possiblity to study, analyse and systemise information about a dynamic undercurrent of Russia's culture with had a very specific profile of its own. Chubraev and I talked about his project ealier, and he told me that he was gaining official support for it and even found possible locations in Saint Petersburg.
However, the interview with its positive outlook was published at a moment when Chubraev, appalled by the war that Putin has been waging against the Ukraine since 24 February 2022, had already left his country – like many other Russians working in the field of culture. Who would think of establishing a New Centre for Contemporary Art in Saint Petersburg when Russia’s army is heavily bombing civilian targets in the Ukraine, including museums and theatres, destroying Ukraine’s heritage?
Thirty-two years after his death, a huge exhibition on Viktor Tsoy, co-financed by the Russian government, is celebrating "The Hero’s Path” (Виктор Цой. Путь героя) at Moscow’s larget exhibition hall, the Central Manege external link>>, while at same time, the Russian government has increased pressure on artists and musicians to show themselves as patriotic – to a degree that even the Soviet 1980s sometimes appear more liberal.
The case of Boris Grebenshikov, the famous singer-songwriter and leader of the band Aquarium commemorating its 50th anniversary this year, presents a striking example, especially when seen in relation to the hero-worshipping of Viktor Tsoy. Grebenshikov’ role in promoting Viktor Tsoy was very important. From the very beginning, he supported the recording of KINO’s albums with AnTrop – including Nachalnik Kamchatki see previous page >>– where he himself recorded his reel-to-reel albums before Aquarium was allowed to release a first official album on Melodiya, the Soviet State label, in 1987 more >>. Since then, the band has only been gaining popularity and is now quite simply a Russian brand.
But in March 2022, Boris Grebenshikov cancelled all of Aquarium’s concerts "for obvious reasons and until the times get better". Perhaps he just anticipated a ban on his performances. On 28 February, a few days after Putin's invasion of Ukraine, he recorded a video message, calling those who unleashed the war “Russia’s disgrace”. It appears that togther with another twenty-one singers and groups, his name is now on a blacklist. distributed among Russian concert agencies.
Coming to think about it, why not put Viktor Tsoy’s lyrics on a blacklist? After all, they can be interpreted in many different ways, for instance “Группа кровы/ Gruppa krovi/Blood Type” in English, external link>> or ”Война / Voyina/ War” in English, external link>>. However, the Russian government decided otherwise and included one of Tsoy's songs, Kukushka / Cuckoo in English, external link>>, into a show staged at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadiumon on 18 March 2022, promoting the 8th anniversary of what is euphemistically called Crimean Spring. In this way, Cuckoo, which speaks, in a most universal way, about an individual’s fate in times of war interpretation, in English, external link>>, has been turned into a propaganda song supporting the Russian war against the Ukraine.
The situation is schizophrenic, but at least, Chubraev's collection is in safe places, waiting to be unearthed a second time.
Hannelore Fobo, 22 April 2022