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Public symposium, University of Amsterdam, Van Abbemuseum & Stedelijk Museum | Metahaven, Eugene Ostashevsky, Sjeng Scheijen, Ellen Rutten 

Event details of The Avant-Garde Then & Now 
Date 20 May 2021
Time 15:00 -17:00
Image: Still from Metahaven, Eurasia (Questions on Happiness), 2018, with citation from Aleksandr Vvedensky’s poem ‘Snow Lies’ (1930), translated by  Eugene Ostashevsky.

The Russian avant-garde is very much alive. A ‘simply irresistible,’ ‘alternative’ cultural world that ‘blithely accepts the diversity and whimsiness of human behavior to some (Scheijen); an ‘idea’ that urgently merits recontextualization in the face of ‘global political crisis’ to others (Léger); to yet others ‘an undetonated alternative’ for neoliberalism and for ‘the discredited institutionalized left’ (Bozovic), avant-garde art and thinking continue to inspire present-day scholars, thinkers, writers, and artists. At ‘Avant-Gardes Then and Now,’ we explore recent non-fiction, art, and translations that explore and revive avant-garde heritage today. We do so with Amsterdam-based writer and slavist Sjeng Scheijen, multiple-prizewinning author of De avant-gardisten; filmmakers and designers Metahaven, whose film installations (exhibited at Stedelijk Museum, ICA London, MoMA PS1) reactivate work by such avant-garde poets as Aleksandr Vvedensky, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Kornei Chukovskii; and poet, scholar, and translator Eugene Ostashevsky (Berlin/New York), who studies and translations of avant-garde poetry include the anthology of Russian absurdism Oberiu and the Futurist key publication Tango with Cows

The symposium is led by professor Ellen Rutten (University of Amsterdam) and is part of the first-year seminar ‘Russia and Eastern Europe 1900-1950: Culture as Politics,’ co-hosted by the University of Amsterdam’s department of Russian & Slavic Studies, Van Abbemuseum and Stedelijk Museum. Guests are welcome; registration not needed, but do join us in time. For questions about the event, please email Eveline Citron at

To join the meeting: