Moscow Department of Culture
Celebrating the 130th anniversary of Velimir Khlebnikov’s birthday
Exhibition of Ksenia Sorokina “The Vocabulary of Gul Mullah” tells a story of poet Velimir Khlebnikov’s later years as a lecturer of the Persian Red Army (the PersArmy) deployed by the Soviet republic to support the breakout of an anti-government revolt in what is now the territory in the north of modern Iran. The display is celebrating the 130th anniversary of the poet’s birthday.
In Persia, Khlebnikov became known by the nicknames ‘Uruss Dervish’ (which means “Russian ascetic”, “missionary”) and Gul Mullah, “the priest of flowers”. One of the possible explanations behind them is that he usually appeared everywhere wearing the same shirt and carrying a begging bowl.
While in Iran, Khlebnikov wrote the poems “Tiran bez T” (“Tyrant without the ‘T’”) [in Russian if you drop the ‘t’ off “tiran” (‘tyrant’), you get Iran], “Odinoky Litsedey” (“Lone Performer”), “Kurilshchik shiry” (“Shireh Smoker”) and others. His “Persian cycle” makes a collection of literary devices, historical details and characters representing the poet’s perceptions of the Oriental universe. Consider, for instance, his almost exotisized poetic comparison of local women with sealed-up bottles of wine, or the names of Islamic reformers and “babists” mentioned as the prophets of the imminent socialist revolution to spread across the globe from the burst of flame in the East.
The series of signs in etchings created by Ksenia Sorokina comes as a visualization of the selection of Persian and Arab words and phenomena making the Russian poet’s vocabulary. The exposition also features archive materials found as part of her research and a video shot during her work in modern Iran. Running in the background of the exhibition is the silent film Gilan’s Daughter (Andrei (Yuri) Bykhovsky, Leo Mur, USSR, 1928) evolving around the events witnessed by Velimir Khlebnikov.
Accompanying the project is the “artist’s book”, which is a catalogue comprising Ksenia Sorokina’s graphics, the findings of archive research and texts relating to the subject of the exhibition. The publication is supported by the Italian Institute of Culture in Moscow.
Ksenia Sorokina was born in Volgograd in 1986. She studied at the Astrakhan Art College, the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts RATI-GITIS (Scenography department), and the Institute of Modern Art (IPSI). She has participated in several personal and numerous group exhibitions in Russia and abroad. She creates her works using mixed media and varied documentation methods, including photography and video, texts and drawings, and performance. She has also created etchings and other types of print graphics. She currently lives and works in Moscow.
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