Cold War - Hot Culture.
The International Festival of Russian Arts and Culture.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, November 19-21, 2000

Organizer and Project Director: Prof. Dmitry Shalin (Dept. of Sociology)


Opening and Concluding Statements
Program. Panels. Participants
Art Exibition
Photos


                   Opening and Concluding Statements

1.  Opening
 

1959 was an important year in the history of US-Soviet
relations.s
Nikita Khrushchev came to New York city and called for
disarmament and
peaceful coexistence.s That same year, the first American
exhixbition
opened up in Moscow, giving Soviet citizens their first
uncensored look
at the United States.s These memorable developments
hinted at the a Thaw
in Russian-American relations.s Some forty years later, we
want to mark
these momentous occasions with a festival
commemorating the end of the
Cold War.

The event brings together artists, both emigre and those
still working
in Russia, who join forces in a tribute to America B the
ultimate other
that has served as a source of inspiration and
ambivalence for many
creative minds in the former Soviet Union.s The festival
features a
visual art show, music performances, poetry readings,
movie screening,
as well as reflections on the horrors and hidden graces of
the Cold
War.s The exhibition, titled AAmerica and Russian
Nonconformist Art, is
designed in particular to mark the 25th anniversary of the
Bulldozer
Exhibition staged in 1974 by Russian nonconformist artists
whose
unauthorized art show was razed by Moscow authorities.

Several prominent cultural figures have agreed to
participate in the
festival, including visual artists Alexander Kosolapov,
Grisha Bruskin,
Komar & Melamid, and Leonid Sokov; poets Alexander
Kushner, Lev Losev,
Dmitri Prigov, and Timur Kibirov; musicians Yuri
Shevchuk, Vladimir
Tarasov, and Vladimir Volkov; art critics and scholars
Alexander
Borovsky, John Bowlt, Mikhail Epstein, Marietta
Chudakova, Tina
Bauermeister; and many others.s The art show is
scheduled to open up in
Las Vegas at the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum on
Tuesday, November 21,
in the year 2000.

The festival is sponsored by the Trust for Mutual
Understanding, Nevada
Arts Council, Nevada Humanities Committee, University
of Nevada Las
Vegas, and literary magazines Znamia and Zvezda.s The
festival Advisory
Board includes prominent artists, scholars, and museum
workers.s It will
benefit from the expertise of Frederick Starr, Director of
Eurasian
Studies at Johns Hopkins University; William Luers,
former President of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Dennis Cate, Director
of the Jane
Voorhees Art Museum at Rutgers University; William
Allen, Director of
the NYU Center for Law and Business; Alexander
Borovsky, Curator at the
Russian Museum in St. Petersburg; Andrei Bitov, Head of
Russian Writers’
Union; Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, visual
artists; and many
other individuals who helped plan the event.

Please join us in Las Vegas at the end of the millennium,
meet artists
form the former Soviet Union, listen to Americans and
Russians
reminiscing about the bygone era, and help us bury the
Cold War.

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2. Concluding Statement

January 24, 2001

TO: Advisory Board Members, Russian Art Festival
Participants

FROM: Dmitri Shalin, Project Director

SUBJECT: Post-Festival Update
 

The International Festival of Russian Arts and Culture is
now history.
It is time to take stock, give thanks, and look into the
future.

The Festival took place in Las Vegas on November 19-21,
2001. Three
years of preparations paid off handsomely when some
fifty poets,
musicians, visual artists, art critics, and literary scholars
came
together to celebrate the passing of the Cold War and to
reflect on the
place of art in society. The featured events included
discussion
panels, poetry readings, music performances, a film
screening, and a day
trip to the Grand Canyon.s Judged from the published
reviews, radio
programs, interviews, and numerous letters from
participants, the Las
Vegas festival proved to be an experience the likes of
which this city
has never seen.

We had our share of adversities that threatened the
project every step
of the way. The festival art show was particularly in
danger. But
thanks to the curator's ingenuity, artists' generosity, and
art
director's dedication, the festival exceeded expectations.s
Our
exhibition America and Russian Nonconformist Art
turned out to be a hit
-- it made the top ten list of best art shows gracing Las
Vegas in the
year 2000. The show received high marks form the
curators attending the
festival and local art critics. The exhibition will remain on
display
through March 16, 2001.

Enclosed you will find several reviews that appeared in the
Las Vegas
press during the last few weeks. You may question
certain judgments
expressed in these reviews; there is a couple of obvious
misstatements
and misquotations, but the tone is respectful and
treatment is very
sympathetic. I also send you a few notes concerning the
festival that
came my way, an interview with a festival participant that
appeared on
the Internet, and an example of personal statement on
American
experience that we plan to publish one day. More
reviews and
reminiscences will be coming out later, but every
indication we have so
far suggests that ours was indeed a rare gathering.
Konstantin
Kustanovich has captured the festival spirit this way:s "It
was really
an extraordinary event. To see this dialogue between art
and
scholarship, to observe people who have already become
a part of Russian
cultural mythology was a rare aesthetic and intellectual
treat.s The
proceedings of a scholarly conference can easily be
published, but this
performance was unique and it can survive only in the
memory of those
present."

While only those who took part in the live events could do
full justice
to the festival spirit, I want to preserve some of it for
posterity. To
that effect, I have been assembling an audio-visual
archive. I hope one
day we will publish a catalogue with the art samples,
festival photos,
excerpts from the panel discussions, and personal
statements from the
participants. There is no money for that at the moment.s
Some ingenuous
fundraising efforts are needed to pull this project
through. Clearly,
this is a long term proposition.

More realistic is the prospect for creating a master tape
with the
festival video footage, the video tour of the exhibition, and
Oksana
Bulgakova's movie that was screened at the University of
Nevada on
November 21, 2000. Two local TV stations are committed
to showing the
film, and I am making inquiries about the possibility of
broadcasting it
nationally. The UNLV film lab has agreed to rent us its
facilities.
Oksana Bulgakova and Dietmar Hochmuth may come to
Vegas as early as
mid-February to help produce the master tape and finish
work on the
movie America Made in Russia: Images of America in
Russian Cinema. If
you wish to see your video and photo materials included
in the festival
footage, please send them to me as early as possible.

The Russian art festival has also generated a plethora of
audio
materials.s To my regret, I did not make arrangements for
a professional
recording of artistic performances.s The tape recorder
was meant to
capture the panel discussions rather than live music
events and poetry
recitals.s Once I heard the tapes, however, I realized that
they have
considerable value, both as historical documents and
artistic
statements.

Enclosed you will find the first of a series of CDs honoring
artists who
dazzled us at the festival. This is the live concert that Yuri
Shevchuk
gave on November 19, 2000. The recording is far from
perfect, there are
occasional glitches, one track has gotten hopelessly
entangled with
another. Still, this is one of the most powerful
performances I have
heard this artist give.s Unedited and unaided by
technology, Yuri's
voice cuts through to the emotional bone the way only a
real time event
can do.s The recording also contains a unique narrative,
the story of
the Russian rock music, that many will find enlightening.s
I hope you
enjoy this CD and its attractive cover designed by
Vladimir Paperny.

Next on my agenda is a CD featuring the concert by
Vladimir Tarasov and
Dmitri Prigov, followed by another CD, or a CD set, with
poetry recitals
by Kushner, Rubinstein, Kibirov, and Prigov.s I do not
know when, or
even whether, all these projects will bear fruit.ss The
festival funds
have been exhausted a while ago, and we still have bills to
pay.ss But
someday, somehow, I hope to see this post-festival
projects through.s If
you wish to help us pay for additional CDs, the master
tape, and an art
catalogue, you can make a small donation to the festival
fund by writing
a check to "UNLV Board of Regents," marking it down
"Russian art
festival," and mailing it to Department of Sociology,
University of
Nevada, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV
89154-5033, attention Veona
Hunsinger.

The Russian art festival may well be one of a kind event
that abides no
sequel. The logistics of putting it together were
formidable, the
wealth of experience it has generated should last a
lifetime.s And yet,
one can readily envision a series of art events under Fred
Starr's
snappy headline Cold War/ Hot Culture that bring
together Russian
artists representing different generations, working in
various media,
living abroad or residing back home, and that give artists
a chance to
reminisce about the bygone era, reflect on the current art
scene, share
one's artistry, and record commemorative CDs.s If you
think Las Vegas is
not a particularly auspicious venue for Russian art, think
again.s Why
else would the Guggenheim Museum and St. Petersburg
Hermitage want to
join forces with the Venetian Hotel and build a
permanent art gallery in
Las Vegas? The food is cheap around here, hotel rates
are relatively
low, the recording studio time is a fraction of what it costs
elsewhere,
and the demand for high culture is on the rise.s I do not
know if I can
rise up to the occasion if another opportunity to stage a
Russian art
festival comes along, but this is food for thought.

Meanwhile, I want to thank the festival sponsors who have
made this
event possible -- The Trust for Mutual Understanding,
Nevada Arts
Council, Nevada Humanities Committee, UNLV College
of Liberal Arts, and
Marjorie Barrick Museum.s I owe a special debt of
gratitude to Vladimir
Paperny, the festival art director; Katerina Dyogot, the
exhibition
curator; and Fred Starr, chair of the Advisory Board.
Their hard work
and enthusiasm were invaluable in carrying this monster
project to
term. I am grateful to all artists, art critics, and scholars,
who
joined forces with us in this undertaking. Thanks are also
due to those
of you who used personal resources to come to Las Vegas
and show support
for Russian art. I hope to see all of you again some day.

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