101st km Further Everywhere
A Pavilion by ALEXANDER BRODSKY
11am-dusk every day 19 October - 10 November, 2017
Photography: Yuri Palmin
To mark the centenary of the Russian revolution, Pushkin House broke out into Bloomsbury Square with an artistic installation about Russian poetry in exile. This pavilion, by leading Russian artist and architect, Alexander Brodsky, celebrated the power of the word and the individual voice.
The 101st km, a concept well known in Russia, refers to the distance that poets and others were forced to maintain from major cities, often after returning from the labour camps – a kind of internal exile and attempt by the authorities to suppress them.
The pavilion created a refuge for these voices, which passers-by were invited to enter and experience.
The second part of the title 'further everywhere' refers to the poetic and mysterious announcement heard on local trains leaving from Moscow, a general denominator for calling points after the centre of the city, that conjures up the vast expanses of Russia, and the rest of the world beyond its borders – wherever the exiled is forced to go.
The interior of the pavilion was hung with poems written in exile or addressing the condition. Video and audio installations evoked associations with a train carriage with an unknown destination.
This was the first artistic pavilion to be built in Bloomsbury Square, and the first in this country by Alexander Brodsky.
The poets include Marina Tsvetaeva and Vladislav Khodasevich, who emigrated in the early 1920s when the working conditions for free artistic practice became restricted, as well as poets who suffered under Stalin's oppression and purges, such as Osip Mandelshtam and Daniil Kharms. Other poets lived through the purges and stood against the system, only to be quietened down and demeaned by it, such as Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova. Included are also later generations of poets such as Joseph Brodsky and Natalya Gorbanevskaya who had their voices silenced by the regime and were forced to emigrate in the 1970s.
A display inside Pushkin House continued the theme and told stories of repressed literature in Soviet times. A rich programme of events explored the theme in more depth through lectures, poetry readings, photographs, film screenings and concerts. This Poetry on the Move season is ongoing through Autumn-Winter 2017-18.
Also in the house was a small exhibition of photographs of Russian artists living in emigration today, by Vadim Levin.