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Catalog Archive / Fall 2019

The Mitki and the Art of Postmodern Protest in Russia

“Mihailovic makes a convincing case for the group’s creative disengagement from Soviet discourse and society constituting its most powerful contribution to political protest in Russia.”
Slavic Review

During the late Soviet period, the art collective known as the Mitki emerged in Leningrad. Producing satirical poetry and prose, pop music, cinema, and conceptual performance art, this group fashioned a playful, emphatically countercultural identity with affinities to European avant-garde and American hippie movements. More broadly, as Alexandar Mihailovic shows, the Mitki pioneered a form of political protest art that has since become a centerpiece of activism in post-Soviet Russia, most visible today in groups such as Pussy Riot. He draws on extensive interviews with members of the collective and illuminates their critique of the authoritarian state, militarism, and social strictures from the Brezhnev years to the present.


Alexandar MihailovicAlexandar Mihailovic is a professor emeritus of comparative literature and Russian at Hofstra University and visiting professor of literature at Bennington College.



“Mihailovic’s analysis of the role of art collectives (and for that matter, other movements) offer insightful information about the potentially fracturing nature of the Russian system.”
Europe Asia Studies

“A masterful exploration of the work and world of the Mitki that moves seamlessly between analysis of different art forms—graphic arts, literature, and film—and chronicles the journey of its original members from debauched alcoholism to sobriety.”
—Emily Johnson, author of How St. Petersburg Learned to Study Itself

“Russian nonconformist art rises and falls. But the Mitki story, with its goofy heroes, gorgeous colors, and weird affirmation of foolishness and failure as the safest path to freedom, introduces us to the theatricalized postmodern in a form that can never be co-opted by a politics. A mind-bending book.”
—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University



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Of Related Interest


In Search of the True Russia
The Provinces in Contemporary Nationalist Discourse
Lyudmila Parts


Reframing Russian Modernism
Edited by Irina Shevelenko

The Mitki and the Art of Postmodern Protest in Russia: Cover showing multiple frames of a painting- almost like a comic strip- depicting police taking down a protestor. All of the text bubbles are written in Russian.

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New in Paperback!
November 2019
LC: 2017019396 N
272 pp. 6 x 9
35 b/w illus.

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Paper $21.95 S
ISBN 9780299314941
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Cloth $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299314903
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