Tango With Cows
is an exhibition by the Getty Museum of the book art of the Russian avant-garde from 1910 to 1917, which included a performance of sound poetry, all captured on video
, both of Futurist poems, other historical sound poems, and contemporary works. Among performers are Christian Bök and Steve McCaffery. The exhibition takes its name from the book of ferro-concrete poems
, one of 21 books can be downloaded as PDFs
, most are by Alexei Kruchenykh but there are also works by Roman Jakobson, Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burliuk, Andrei Kravtsov, Vasily Kamensky and Velimir Khlebnikov. These were all Futurists.
"From December 1913 to April 1914, the notoriety of the Cubo-Futurists reached its peak as Burliuk, Maiakovsky, and Kamensky toured 17 cities in the Russian Empire. The appearance of the Futurists (they liked to wear gaudy waistcoats, sometimes painted animals on their faces and wore carrots in their lapels) and their 'performances,' which included drinking tea on stage under a suspended piano, drew packed audiences, scandalized many, but also won converts to the new art." - Dr. Myroslav Shkandrij
Khlebnikov: The World of Velimir Khlebnikov
is a great site to start exploring the many-splendored wonders of Khlebnikov. It has many of his works
in English translation, photos of him
and more. Oh, and really don't miss out on Oleg Minin reciting Khlebnikov's poems in Russian and Bök performing the translations
Kamensky: The Wikipedia page on his Tango With Cows
is fabulous (it's written by Francis Elliot
whose written a number of great pages about artists' books). Kamensky was one of Russia's first pilots, reputedly taught flying by Louis Blériot.
Kravtsov: There's precious little info on the man. This is the best I could find was this passage from Russian Futurism: A History by Vladimir Markov:
Andrei Kravtsov [was] a doctor whom Kamensky during the famous futurist tour through the Russian provinces. Kravtsov never published anything after this book; not, it seems, did he join any futurist groups. His five rhymed contributions slightly resemble Burliuk's verse in that they are essentially conventional, cliché-ridden poems (in this instance, mostly with erotic themes) in which Kravtsov tries very hard to appear avant-garde through the use of occasional "daring" imagery ("I dip my nerves into the blood of my heart") and typographical means.
Burliuk: After having to leave Russia following the revolution, he traveled the world spreading the gospel of the avant-garde. Notably he spent time in Japan, where he helped launch a Japanese Futurist movement, about which you can learn in this YouTube video
, one of nine excerpts
available from the six documentaries Copernicus Films has done on the Russian avant-garde. He immigrated to the US during the 20s where he was best known as a painter
Mayakovsky: He's probably best known of anyone involved in Futurism. A good chunk of his superb poetry can be read in English translation on marxists.org
and Andrey Kneller's Mayakovsky page
. You can also listen to a couple of recordings of him reciting his own poems on Pennsound
Jakobson: He's one of the great linguists and literary theorists of the 20th Century. He wrote a memoir of time in the avant-garde called My Futurist Years. The Wikipedia page on him
is not a bad place to start.
Krucenykh: The Tango With Cows exhibitions is probably the best introduction to Kruchenykh available online, so go look at it
! And don't forget Oleg Minin's readings of his poems, with Steve McCaffery reciting the English translations
, including the famous Dyr Bul Schyl.