(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.v Berlin
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Leningrad 80s >>
The New Artists.
Timur Novikov: Roots – E-E Kozlov: Cosmos
A universal concept of PeOPLe is present in a series of three text images E-E Kozlov created in 2018, on the day of the FIFA World Cup final (France / Croatia). Their message is slightly ironic, as Kozlov substituted patriotism with universalism. In these drawings, we note the artist’s new, extended signature – “E-E” in combination with “PeOPLe”. Kozlov has been using this double signature since the end of 2017, thereby transforming the concept of people in the narrower sense into people in the larger sense.
Scroll down for text image two and text image three.
Chapter 9. Narodnost’: quite simply the people
The question of who represents the people isn’t an abstract one at all, especially when we set people in relation to nation or state – this leads us to a discussion of the “national question”. In Russia, where the term “people” (narod), both in its singular and plural forms, may stand in the place of the term “nation” (natsiia), such a “national question” has a long and complicate history.
What is more, neither people / peoples (narod / narody) nor nation / national (natsiia / natsional'niy) have been clearly defined in their specific relation to the state (gosudarstvo). I will look at some aspects that are relevant in the context of this article, that is, in the context of “roots”, by connecting narod to narodnost’; the latter may be paraphrased as simply being the people. It might help to explain why the works by the New Artists are sometimes seen as representing narodnost’ and hence considered as simple, as suggested by the already mentioned press campaign slogan for the “Brushstroke” exhibition – “cheerfulness, idiocy, and ardour.
The proposed amendments to the Russian constitution of 1993, approved by a general vote that took place between 25 June and 1 July 2020, fuelled the discussion of the meaning of narod and narodnost’, since one of those 206 amendments regarded Article 68, Point 1. The previous version from 1993 was The Russian language shall be a state language on the whole territory of the Russian Federation. In its new form, Article 68, Point 1 is now more specific: The Russian language shall be a state language on the whole territory of the Russian Federation as the language of the state-forming people, a member of the multi-national union of equal peoples of the Russian Federation.” 
Curiously, we are told only the language of the state-forming people (gosudarstvoobrazuiushchiy narod) – Russian – but not the name of this state-forming people. So who are those strange people X that speak Russian and are the state-forming people? Let’s assume that X = the Russian people (“the state-forming Russian people”), and not any of the other peoples living in Russia also speaking Russian, but perhaps as a second language – the Tartars, the Kazakhs, the Sami etc. If they had been included, we would read of the state-forming peoples speaking Russian, that is, of “peoples” in the plural, of narody.
To implicitly call the Russian people the state-forming people makes them primus inter pares, first among other peoples in Russia. Seen in this light, a “Kandinsky Prize” is more respectable than a “Malevich-Prize”, as Kandinsky was born in Moscow, while Malevich was born in Kiev to a Polish family.
Perhaps that implicitness, that “going without saying”, is why from the amendment, an explicit mention of a Russian people has been modestly omitted, so that from a legal point of view, no such claim of superiority exists. 
To further soften the non-existing claim about a state-forming people X, there is an apposition defining X as “a member of a multi-national union – многонациональный союз”, mnogonatsional'nyi soiuz.
So what is multinational (mnognonational’nyi) in relation to people (narod)?
Article 3, Point 1 Russian constitution stipulates that The bearer of sovereignty and the only source of power in the Russian Federation shall be its multinational people. Here we learn that different nations form a single people. In the amendment to article Article 68, Point 1, instead, equal peoples of the Russian Federation form a multinational union.
It isn’t clear what multinational actually refers to in the Russian constitution: to a people consisting of many nations? Or to a union consisting of different peoples? The terms nation and people are used almost interchangeably.
As a matter of fact, Latin-rooted natsional'nyi, national, has a strong component of ethnicity, conflicting with its reference to nation as a political subject. In this respect, a publication on the English website of Kremlin.ru, the official website of the Russian president, is quite interesting. In a discussion from February 2020 with president Putin about the amendments to the constitution, the term mnogonatsional'nyi soiuz is translated as multi-ethnic union and not as multi-national union.
We see that the amendment to Article 68 immediately raises the question of a “normal” ethnicity versus a higher-ranking ethnicity assigned to the people X capable of state-forming. I deliberately avoid the term nation here, because nation can be understood as determining the whole of Russia’s population as a single people, as shown by an – unsuccessful – suggestion made by the working group that drafted amendments to the Russian Constitution. The idea to substitute “multinational people” of Article 3 with “a nation of many peoples” (многонародная нация, mnogonarodnaia natsiia) caused protest and was abandoned. In other words, the concept of a state-forming people X is acceptable, unlike the concept of peoples building the nation of Russia.
So what defines the higher-ranking ethnicity assigned to the people X? What is the role of Russians’ Russianness? In her article “The End of Post-Soviet Religion“, Kristina Stoeckl quotes Bishop Savva of Zelenograd (Tutunov):
In this sense, Tatars would be “only” an ethnic group, while Russians are an ethnic group also forming the Russian state on behalf of all other ethnic groups; consequently, Russians form the nucleus of the multinational people. But this brings up the next question: what exactly qualifies the Russians as primus inter pares? How exactly should “Russianness” be defined? Since the nineteenth century, intellectuals, artists and politicians have been trying to find an answer ex-negativo: “What is left of us if we remove everything that is alien to us?” There is, of course, hope that the answer will bring to light something substantial and unique – something that explains the role of Russians in history.
There are actually two ways to define a national identity. The first is to exclude everything alien, and the second is to assimilate everything alien, making it “Russian”. We may call the first an exclusive approach and the second an inclusive approach. Russian history shows that both approaches co-exist in a conflicting way as “a pattern of assimilation and disavowal”, as Jane A. Sharp stated for the Russian avant-garde of the early twentieth century.
From an ideological point of view, the least equivocal way would seem to follow an exclusive approach, to take away all “foreign” influences and to assign authenticity to what is left. Admittedly, the answer isn’t as simple as it might appear at first sight, as we would have to remove from history some truly Russian brands, among them the House of Romanov-Holstein-Gottdorp, including Catherine the Great (German), Alexander Pushkin (considering that one of his great-grandfathers was African), Carl and Agathon Fabergé and the “Imperial Easter eggs” (French and later Baltic German), and, last but not least, Nobel Laureate in Literature Iosif Brodsy (Jewish).
But this is exactly what right-wing ideologue Alexander suggested musician Sergey Kuryokhin when they both met in the 1990s, as Kuryokhin was looking for a new, national mission in his life. In the 1980s, Kuryokhin, one of the brightest and most admired figures of the Leningrad Underground, challenged the authorities with his extravagant Pop-Mekhanika concerts, where he was joined by the New Artists to stage his concept of “action on a totally global style”. Now, he was convinced, “The real show is politics”.
In my article Empire and Magic. Sergey Kuryokhin's “Pop-Mekhanika No. 418” (1995) I discussed that Dugin praised Kuryokhin as “a personality capable of recreating ‘pre-cultural’ forms of priesthood via the medium of Pop-Mekhanika performances.”Dugin laid out his concept in an article from 1996 dedicated to Sergey Kuryokhin:
For those defending “pre-cultural” forms, Peter the Great marks the fall from grace, but we can go further back, as Dugin does – prior to the church reforms of Patriarch Nikon of Moscow in the seventeenth century. Despite Kuryokhin’s admiration for Dugin, I consider it rather unlikely that Kuryokhin, who died in 1996, would have followed Dugin’s uncompromising stance for very long, because Dugin’s concept
In fact, Kuryokhin never gave up playing with Western musicians, and his anarchic spirit would have made it difficult for him to maintain a principle of cultural segregation.
Instead of excluding foreign influences, as did Dugin, we can choose an inclusive approach and allow Russian ethnicity to absorb foreign influences – which are thus becoming “Russian”. This option removes the permanent stress of justifying why “foreign” is bad.
A typical and not very sophisticated argument is in an article discussing the amendments to the Russian constitution, published on the website of modern diplomacy by Slavisha Batko Milacic, a historian from Montenegro affiliated to Alexander Dugin’s think-tank Geopolitica.ru:
“Wait a minute,” they would say, “these guys spoke Russian, attended the Orthodox Church and served our country, which means they are Russian!”
This means that there is no such thing in Russia as nationalism. What there is, however, is the Russian people’s healthy patriotism and innate pride in their ancestors.
Note the difference made between nationalism (bad) and patriotism (good). Thus, making someone “Russian” is not an expression of nationalism – it is healthy patriotism. It is remarkable that Batko Milacic awards the privilege of “russification” only to military commanders, and not to entrepreneurs and artists like the Fabergé brothers nor to bankers and patrons of the art like Alexander Stieglitz. Obviously, with regard to patriotism, culture is secondary to the art of warfare. As opinion polls from the last years show, the majority of Russians share this view: giving preference to “native” art and literature is no condition for being a patriot, while avoiding military service clearly shows a lack of patriotism. Possibly, the reason for being more tolerant to “foreign” culture is that “national” narrations in art and literature are essentially perceived as universal.
However, neither of these two approaches we have been discussing can solve the problem of defining the Russians' original “stratum” – the Russian proto-people, or proto-“narod” – the “real” Russians. But It appears that they still exist. They real Russians are somehow just Russians – “simple, uncorrupted people”, as Goncharora and Larionov called them.
The concept of the unspoiled folk is very close to the romanticised image of the narod and its life in a rural community cherished by the intellectually refined upper class youth of the nineteenth century. The “narodniks”, students and revolutionaries ”going to the people” after the emancipation of the serf under Tsar Alexander II in 1861, constitute an important example regarding expectations put upon a supposed – innate – anti-capitalist stance of Russian peasants. The narodniks’ expectations on the revolutionary potential of the Russian peasantry were, however, frustrated. The Russian peasantry was conservative, not revolutionary-minded.
In this way, the question of native roots turned into a social question of the privileged upper (urban, cosmopolitan, educated) class versus rural people or folk – “narod” as people possessing narodnost’, that is, “peopleness”, if translated literally.
It is a concept of narod that idealised national identity as an anti-intellectual – anti avant-garde, anti-elitist – property, a property that can be found somewhere out there, where the people are. Strikingly, the same concept is still en vogue today – as glubinnyi narod or “deep people”, a term coined by Kremlin ideologue Vladislav Surkov in 2019 by analogy with the American “deep state” theory stipulating a secret control of the US political system by a state within a state. Characteristic of this “deep people” is its “peopleness”; we might call it the essence of the proto–people.
I wouldn’t exclude that Surkov has an ironic sense of himself, since he doubtlessly belongs to this very cosmopolitan elite of the Putin state being pressed down to earth by the deep people. But the image of the deep people as a gigantic supermass is one of hope, as I understand it: perhaps from there, from the black hole created by the deep people’s gigantic supermass, from the narodnost’, some day another Yury Gagarin will emerge. Yury Gagarin, the first man in cosmos, is “the simple Soviet guy” with a bright smile who had lunch with the English Queen.
It is the hope that with narodnost’, things should become great and simple, as expressed in Gagarin’s famous meme „Поехали!“ poekhali / “Let’s go”, when he took off in his spaceship Vostok – “East”. From the poor village of Klushino, a lost village two hundred kilometres off Moscow, to the stars – this is the Russian equivalent of the American dream “from rags to riches”, but with a transcendent dimension.
And with regard to organising social life, life in a community, simpleness is the fairy-tale of simple people’s simple narodnost’ achieving what the refined elite has been unwilling to achieve – great things. In her article The Kitchen Maid That Will Rule The State. The Last Hundred Years of Women’s Emancipation in Russia, Alissa Klots sums up the essence of Mayakovsky’s famous poem-necrology on Vladimir Lenin:
At the same time, Surkov’s formula “An ability to hear and understand the people, to see through it to its depths, and to act accordingly” also expresses fear of this supermass’es potential recklessness. Narodnost’ might get out of control and stage another revolution if the Putin state doesn’t see through its depths and act accordingly – because, as we may assume, its intellectual weakness makes the deep people behave like immature children who may be lured by mischievous leaders. This is why in Surkov’s opinion the deep people needs to be contained by a personal bond to the leader. Ekaterina Shulman, a political scientist and associate professor at the RANEPA, Moscow, sums up the position of the Russian elite, interprets the attitude of the Russian elite towards the people as an attitude towards citizens in general:
In this way, narodnost’ has become an ambiguous category: it stands for simplicity and integrity as positive factors, but also for ignorance and incivility as negative ones. These aspects of narodnost’ were adapted by two Leningrad art groups: the positive ones in a playful manner by the Mitki, and the negative ones in an ironical manner by the Necrorealists. Those contradictory aspects of narodnost’ have been transferred and applied to the reception history of the New Artists, and if Ivan Sotnikov constituted the link between the New Artists and the Mitki, then Evgeny Yufit constituted the link between New Artists and the Necrorealists.
I suppose that this aspect of narodnost’ inspired the press campaign slogan for the “Brushstroke” exhibition – “Bodrost’, tupost’ I zador” ( “Бодрость, тупость и задор” / “cheerfulness, idiocy, and ardour), the 2010 retrospective of both the New Artists and the Necrorealists (see chapter 7). The slogan is, in fact, more suitable for the Necrorealists than for the New Artists, although simplicity – simple simplicity, we might say, simplicity without a folkloric “colouring” – was also promoted by Timur Novikov. In his New Artists text from 1986 we read:
Returning to Novikov’s statement from 1989 quoted earlier, I will now complete it with another sentence added in italics: “My works are simple. They are not overloaded with information. I want my viewer to relax, to feel rested”.
Novikov’s insistence on simplicity and relaxation for his own art and on accessibility for the works of the New Artists fostered a general view on the New Artists as anti-intellectuals. Simplicity and accessibility mean that their art is, allegedly, just what it is, without any subtext – in contrast to that of their Moscow counterparts, such as the group Inspection Medical Hermeneutics, who wanted their viewer to be confused, not relaxed. Sergei Anufriev, Yuri Leiderman, and Pavel Pepperstein played a game of overinterpretation, of hyperinflating meaning to a point where it gets devoid of meaning.
previous page: Chapter 8. Cosmopolitism and ethnicity: how Russian is the Russian avant-garde?
next page: Chapter 10. Fishing at Peter the Great’s pond
 Статья 68, 1. Государственным языком Российской Федерации на всей ее территории является русский язык как язык государствообразующего народа, входящего в многонациональный союз равноправных народов Российской Федерации. [amendments shown in bold]
Novyi tekst Konstitutsii s popravkami 2020 (The New Text of the Constitution with Amendments 2020) [Новый текст Конституции с поправками 2020]. Website of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Web 15 September 2020. http://duma.gov.ru/news/48953/
 As written in the previous chapter, In the Soviet Union, the creation of a “Soviet citizen” was meant to superimpose a Russian national identity. At the same time, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was tacitly understood as first among the Socialist Republics, as the Russian language became the lingua franca in the Soviet Union and a compulsory subject in all schools.
 Носителем суверенитета и единственным источником власти в Российской Федерации является ее многонациональный народ.
The English translation is taken from the website The Constitution of the Russian Federation. Web 13 September 2020
 The complete sentence is: “On the proposal to introduce amendments related to historical state unity, cultural identity of all peoples and ethnic groups of Russia, as well as Russian language as the language of the state-forming people in the multi-ethnic union of equal peoples.”
In: The Kremlin, Moscow. “Meeting with members of the working group on drafting proposals for amendments to the Constitution”, 26 February 2020. Web 15 September 2020
 Akhkiiamova, Liliia et al. “‘Put’ demontazha federalizma’: stanet li Rossiia ‘mnogonarodnoy’ vmesto ‘mnogonatsional’noy’?” [«Путь демонтажа федерализма»: станет ли Россия «многонародной» вместо «многонациональной»?] 27 January 2020. БИЗНЕС Online. Web 13 September 2020 https://www.business-gazeta.ru/article/455218
 Stoeckl, Kristina. “The End of Post-Soviet Religion“ A publication of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University. First published 20 July 2020
 See Chapter 6, footnote 62
 Fobo, Hannelore. Pop Mekahnika in the West, page 3 • The three principles of Kuryokhin’s “action on a totally global scale” Web 15 September 2020
 Fobo,Hannelore Empire and Magic. Sergey Kuryokhin's “Pop-Mekhanika No. 418” (1995), Second, revised version 11 March 2020, Page 5. A new spark in the life of Pop-Mekhanika: Aleister Crowley Web 22 August 2020.
 Ibid., page 2 Pop-Mekhanika – a National Bolshevik Party band? Web 22 August 2020
 English translation by Kieran Scarffe
То, что всегда делал Сергей Курехин - не просто творческий поиск, это упорное и последовательное воссоздание того органического единства, которое предшествовало и классике, и модерну, и гипермодерну (рок-музыке, авангардизму и т.д.). Поражает, с каким постоянством он воспроизводил все основополагающие черты традиционного, "докультурного", "архаического" жречества.
Dugin, Alexander [Aleksandr]. 418 Masok subyekta. (The Entity’s 418 Masks) [418 Масок субъекта] First published in Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 1996
Web. 25 July 2018. http://arcto.ru/article/103
 Fobo, Hannelore. Empire and Magic. Sergey Kuryokhin's “Pop-Mekhanika No. 418” (1995), Second, revised version 11 March 2020, Page 3 “Everything related to America is horrible!”
Web 22 August 2020.
 Dugin, Alexander. [Aleksandr]. “Kazhdyi den’ my dolzhny ubivat’ v sebe zapadnika” (“We need to kill the Westerner inside ourselves every day”) [“Каждый день мы должны убивать в себе западника”]
Headline for Dugin’s answers to questions by readers of InoSMI (May /June 2008).
Russia Today, InoSMI, 10 June 2008. Web. 28 July 2018
 Milacic is very generous in ascribing “these guys” an orthodox confession. At least one of them was catholic: a quick look at the Wikipedia page of Barclay de Tolly tells us that his funeral took place at Riga’s catholic St. James Cathedral.
 Milacic, Slavisha Batko. “State-forming people: How historical justice can be restored with just one phrase”. Published 20 June 2020 on the website of modern diplomacy. Web 22 August 2020.
 See results of the public opinion poll carried out by Moscow based FOM (Фонд Общественное Мнение / Public Opinion Foundation) published 2 September 2020. Data published for the period between 2006 and 2020 show a strong increase in defining oneself as a patriot (“патриот”) – from 57% to 82%. However, a majority of respondents think that preferring foreign to domestic literature or art is not contrary to being a patriot, and this figure has also increased. (46% against 34% in 2006 and 57% against 33% in September 2020. In contrast, 71% of the respondents think that avoiding military service means that you are not a patriot; this figure has remained almost unchanged over the last years.
Web. 3 September 2020
 See Chapter 6, footnote 52
 With regard to art and literature see the Russian art group “Peredvizhniki” and Nikolai Chernishevsky’s novel “What is to be done?” from 1863.
 Глубинного государства в России нет, оно все на виду, зато есть глубинный народ. […] Своей гигантской супермассой глубокий народ создает непреодолимую силу культурной гравитации, которая соединяет нацию и притягивает (придавливает) к земле (к родной земле) элиту, время от времени пытающуюся космополитически воспарить.
Народность, что бы это ни значило, предшествует государственности, предопределяет ее форму, ограничивает фантазии теоретиков, принуждает практиков к определенным поступкам. Она мощный аттрактор, к которому неизбежно приводят все без исключения политические траектории. […]
Умение слышать и понимать народ, видеть его насквозь, на всю глубину и действовать сообразно – уникальное и главное достоинство государства Путина.
Surkov, Vladislav. “Putin’s Long State”.
First published in Russian 11 February 2019 in Nezavizimaya Gazeta: Vladislav Surkov: Dolgoe gosudarstvo Putina [Владислав Сурков: Долгое государство Путина] https://www.ng.ru/ideas/2019-02-11/5_7503_surkov.html
The English translation is from Paul Robinson‘s blog from 11 February 2019. Web 15 August 2020.
with some additions by Tuomas Taavial. Web 15 August 2020. https://gupea.ub.gu.se/bitstream/2077/61731/1/gupea_2077_61731_1.pdf
and by myself
 In Russian, Gagarin – prostoi sovetskij paren’ follows a rhyme scheme of gárin and páren’ .
 As the example of Elon Musk’s SpaceX shows, in America, riches and cosmos can go together, which is an unpleasant discovery for Roscomos, Russia’s State Corporation for Space Activities.
 Klots, Alissa. “The Kitchen Maid That Will Rule The State. The Last Hundred Years of Women’s Emancipation in Russia”. In: zeitgeschichte online, March 2018. Web 22 August 2020.
 в глазах тех, кто у нас принимает решения, граждане субъектностью не обладают, субъектностью обладают только представители элит.… не должно такого быть, чтобы люди сами взяли и решили для себя, еще и выдвинув из своей среды какого-то не элитного кандидата. Должно быть всё между серьезными дядями согласовано и решено.
Shulman, Ekaterina. “Status”. Interview by Maksim Kurnikov on Echo Moskvy. 1 September 2020. Web 2 September 2020. https://echo.msk.ru/programs/status/2701779-echo/
As a consequence, the Russian state bothy extols and subdues the deep people, and political initiatives coming from the people are either appropriated to turn them into rituals, as in the case of the “Immortal Regiment”, or supressed.
 Yufit founded the Necrorealists around 1984, but exhibited his paintings together with the New Artists.
See: Fobo, Hannelore. Timur Novikov's New Artists Lists. Page 7: The New Artists group and the New Artists movement (2018) Web 22 August 2020.
 Художники стремятся к доходчивости содержания и выработке простейших доступных всем средств, выражения, практикуют доступность и в выставочной деятельности.
Potapov, Igor (pseud. Timur Novikov) “Novye Khudozhniki” (Russian) [“Новые художники”,] “The New Artists” (English / Russian), 1986 In: Novye Khudozhniki [Новые художники] / The New Artists, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Edited by Ekaterina Andreeva and Nelly Podgorskaya. Moscow: Moscow Museum of Modern Art, 2012, p. 27
 Explanations by Timur Novikov. In: Timur, ed. Ekaterina Andreeva, Ksenia Novikova, Nelly Podgorskaya, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, 2013 p. 95 (MMOMA exhibition catalogue)
Research / text / layout: Hannelore Fobo, May / September 2020.
Uploaded 24 September 2020