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The Mitki and the Art of Postmodern Protest in Russia

Notorious and colorful nonconformists

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, 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 visibly 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.

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Alexandar MihailovicAlexandar Mihailovic is a professor emeritus of comparative literature and Russian at Hofstra University and visiting professor of Slavic studies at Brown University. His books include Corporeal Words: Mikhail Bakhtin’s Theology of Discourse; an edited volume, Tchaikovsky and His Contemporaries; and a coedited book, Navid Kermani: Contemporary German Writers.


 

Praise

“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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The Mitki and the Art of Postmodern Protest in Russia

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February 2018
LC: 2017019396 N
272 pp. 6 x 9
35 b/w illus.

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Cloth $79.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-31490-3
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