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The New Artists and the Mayakovsky Friends Club (1986-1990)

Text: Hannelore Fobo, 2021
Chapter 14. Document I. Mayakovsky Friends Club.Application to the Main Department of Culture 1987
previous page: Chapter 13. The Report about the first year and corresponding New Artists chronicle entries
next page: Chapter 15. The Nch-Vch Club
Table of contents: see bottom of page >>



Chapter 14. Document I.

Club of Friends of Mayakovsky. Заявление. Application to the Main Department of Culture, undated, approx. end of 1987.

Scroll down for transcript, English translation, and notes.





Заместителю начальника

Главного управления культуры

Ленгорисполкома тов. Мудровой М.П.

От творческой группы Новые худо-

ники клуба друзей В.В. Маяковского.

Заявление

В 1986 году наша группа обращалась в Г.У.К. с просьбой о содействии в предоставлении нам коллективной мастерской для работы. Тогда мы не получили ни какого [sic] ответа. Не имеет помещения до сих пор и наш клуб.

Нам всегда казалось, что неоднократные решения партии и правительства о помощи молодым художникам относятся к нам, но ни какой [sic] реальной помощи в работе не имеем. Отсутствие мастерских и постоянных экспозиционных площадок сдерживает наш творческий рост, отражается на качестве выполняемых при полной отсутствии каких бы то ни было условий художественныx работ./ За последний год художники участвовали в «дне смеха» в Москве, «Днях искусств» в Риге, в культурной программе 17 молодежной выставки в Москве, фестивале «Фолклер 87» орг. газетой «Советская культура» в Москве, в работе лауреата Государственной премии и премии Ленинского комсомола С.А. Соловьева на киностудии «Мосфильм», оформляли праздник города в Петропавловской крепости, фолклерный праздник в парке Ленина, Форуме творческой молодежи Ленинграда, оформили большое количество концертов в Ленинграде и других городах, работали на телевидении, Ленинградской студии документальных фильмов, подготовили и провели ряд выставок, выполняли большой объем индивидуальной работы./

Мы ждем помощи, ведь не можем мы вечно работать на улицах, в коммунальных квартирах и в расселенных домах, идущих на капитальный ремонт. Мы не хотим, что бы [sic] наше бедственное положение являлось объектом спекуляций буржуазной прессы. Мы ждали помощи от комсомола, но больше чем сырой подвал без света он нам не предложил. Пора перейти от обсуждения проблем молодёжных объединений к их решению.

С уважением, группа художников клуба друзей В.В. Маяковского.

Председатель:     /С.А.Бугаев/  Зам.пред./Т.Новиков/

To Comrade M. P. Mudrova

Deputy Director of the Main Department of Culture, Leningrad City Executive Committe

From the New Artists creative group of the Club of Friends of V.V. Mayakovsky

Application

In 1986, our group addressed the Main Administration of Culture with a request for assistance in providing us with a collective workshop for work. We didn't get any response then. Likewise, our club still does not have a room.

We always felt that the party’s and the government’s multiple decisions to help young artists apply to us, but there is no real support for our work. The lack of workshops and permanent exhibition sites hinders our creative growth, and the complete absence of even minimal working conditions affects the quality of the artwork. In the course of the last year, our group of artists participated in the "Days of Laughter" in Moscow, the "Art Days" in Riga, the cultural programme of seventeen youth exhibitions in Moscow, the "Folklore 87” festival of the "Soviet Culture” newspaper, in the work carried out at the Mosfilm film studio by S. A Solovyev, winner of the State Prize and of the Lenin Komsomol Prize, we designed the City Day at the Peter and Paul Fortress, the folklore day at the Lenin Park, at the Forum of the Leningrad Creative Youth, created the stage design for a large number of concerts in Leningrad and other cities, worked for television stations and the Leningrad Documentary Film Studio, prepared and held a number of exhibitions, performed a large amount of individual work.
We are waiting for help, because we can't always work on the streets, in communal apartments and in unoccupied houses listed for major repairs. We do not want our plight to be the object of speculation by the bourgeois press. We were waiting for help from the Komsomol, but they did not offer us more than a damp basement without light. It is time to move from discussing the problems of youth associations to solving them.

Yours faithfully, a group of artists from the Mayakovsky Friends Club.

Chairman: S. A. Bugaev. Deputy Chairman: T. Novikov




In their application, Bugaev and Novikov complain to the G. U. K., the Main Department of Culture, that they never received an answer to their letter requiring “assistance in providing us with a collective workshop for work”, sent the previous year.

Possibly, the letter in question is the application by the New Creative Association dated 4 August 1986, where seven artists, representing more than forty artists, ask to include their group “in the experiment to expand the sphere of paid services…according to the Law on amateur associations and interest clubs” (Document B). However, the letter from 1986 does not ask explicitly for premises.

Now Bugaev and Novikov are able to sign the request for premises in their capacity of chairman and deputy chairman, respectively, of the Mayakovsky Friends Club, which should give it some weight.

To push their claim Bugaev and Novikov present a list of activities. These activities are largely congruent with those from Novikov’s report about the first year of the Mayakovsky Friends Club (Document H). The enumeration is, in fact, identical with that in a short text about the New Artists from 1987, in all likelihood also written by Novikov (text no 6 in “Timur Novikov’s New Artists list” more >>). In other words, three texts written at the same time contain the same information regarding artists’ activities.

Yet contrary to the other two texts, the New Artists text makes no mention of the Club of Friends of V.V. Mayakovsky. The text begins “Творческая группа ‘Новые художники’ существуют с 1984 года” / “The New Artists creative group has existed since 1984” and ends with a list of artists:

    На сегодняшний день в группу входят: С. Бугаев, Т. Новиков, В. Овчинников, В. Гуцевич, Е. Козлов, И. Савченко [sic], О. Котельников, А. Овчинников, О. Маслов, А. Козин, Ю. Красев, К. Хазанович, Е. Юфит, М. Таратута, В. Кондратев, И. Сотников. more >>.
    To date, the group includes: S. Bugaev, T. Novikov, V. Ovchinnikov, V. Gutsevich, E. Kozlov, I Savchenko [sic], O. Kotelnikov, A. Ovchinnikov, O. Maslov, A. Kozin, Yu. Krasev. K. Khazanovich, E. Yufit, M. Taratuta, V. Kondratev, I Sotnikov.

The name list, in turn, is almost identical with the signatories of an application to the Main Department of Culture by "a group of artists” from 5 August 1986, asking for the possibilty of a group exhibtion in 1987 (Chapter 7. Document C).

In this way, both lists – the list of activities and the list of artists – serve multiple purposes, depending on the label Novikov wishes to promote – whether the New Creative Association, the New Artists as an independent group or the Mayakovsky Friends Club with the New Artists as one of its sections. Novikov sets priorities according to the whom he addresses with his text, but priorities also change over time. For instance, in official correspondence, the New Creative Association (1986) disappears and the Mayakovsky Friends Club takes its place in 1987. At least this is plausible, since no official applications are documented for the Club of the Appreciation of Amateur Creativity.

Correspondingly, Novikov adapts the style of his text to the goal he wants to achieve. His letter to the G.U. K. from 1987 shows criticism on the basis of allegiance to the system, although with a hardly masked “stiob” – an extreme from of irony typical for the late Soviet period more >> – “We are waiting for help, because we can't always work on the streets, in communal apartments and in unoccupied houses listed for major repairs. We do not want our plight to be the object of speculation by the bourgeois press.”

By contrast, any contact with the Western press in any place was higly welcome. In the summer of 1985, British film director Richard Denton filmed a documentary about Sergey Kuryokhin. A private Pop Mekhanika performance was arranged on the premises of the LTO-81, Leningrad’s club of progressive writers, located in an unoccupied houses listed for major repairs. Timur Novikov was among the performers. The documentary “Comrades: All that Jazz” was broadcast on BBC on December 1, 1985, as the third of a total of twelve documentaries on life in the Soviet Union more >>. It greatly helped to promote Sergey Kuryokhin and the Leningrad “underground” in the West.

Soviet artist squats exerted an undeniable attraction for Western visitors who perceived them as symbols of free thought. In Leningrad, Novikov's ASSA Gallery more >> was a central meeting place for artists, musicians and their guests, among them American rock singer Joanna Stingray who recently published her autobiography on her Leningrad and Moscow years. (Joanna Stingray and Madison Stingray. Red Wave. An American in the Soviet Music Underground. DoppelHouse Press, Los Angeles, 2020). more about the Russian edition from 2019 >>)

As Novikov had to give up his squat in 1987 (see chronicle entry for 12, 13, 14 May in the previous chapter more >>), this caused a number of problems, among them that of storing artists’ works accumulated over the years after exhibitions at the ASSA Gallery and elsewhere. The Main Department of Culture was in the position to allot new premises. Yet just as in 1986, the request for help sent by the New Artists creative group of the Club of Friends of V.V. Mayakovsky was, in all likelihood, also left unanswered. The group‘s new legal status didn't make a difference. One may speculate about the causes, whether the group was not active enough to deserve support, or, quite the contrary, too active so that it didn't need any official support. My assumption is that Novikov and Bugaev weren't too engaged in the administrative side of the project. After all, the New Artists wanted to “preserve their informality and save themselves from inevitable bureaucratism and official obligations”, as Novikov wrote in his "New Artists text from 1986 see introduction>>.

The next chapter presents a successful approach of getting premises for a club registering under the new law – the NCh-VCh (НЧ-ВЧ).

Synopsis and Introduction

Chаpter 1. Soviet Clubs and Houses of Culture

Chapter 2. Chapter 2. Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky

Chapter 3: Source material and references

Chapter 4. Index of documents 1986-1987

Chapter 5. Document A. Charter of the New Creative Association

Chapter 6. Document B. Application by the New Creative Association, 4. 8. 1986

Chapter 7. Document C. Application by the New Creative Association, 5. 8. 1986

Chapter 8. Document D. Front page of the Mayakovsky Friends Club charter, 3. 9. 1986

Chapter 9. Document E. Registration card for young associations

Chapter 10. Document F. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Working plan for 1986-1987

Chapter 11. Document G. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Invitation card, 21. 12. 1986

Chapter 12. Document H. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Report about the first year (Sept.86-Sep. 87)

Chapter 13. The Report about the first year and corresponding New Artists chronicle entries

Chapter 14. Document I. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Application to the Main Department of Culture 1987

Chapter 15. The Nch-Vch Club

Chapter 16. The Mayakovsky Friends Club Party 1990

Chapter 17. The Mayakovsky Friends Club in Europe, 1988-1989

Chapter 18. The Mayakovsky Friends Club in the USA, 1989-1990

Chapter 19. Concluding remarks


Research / text / layout: Hannelore Fobo, March 2020 / August 2021

Uploaded 17 August 2021