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|The New Artists and the Mayakovsky Friends Club (1986-1990)
Text: Hannelore Fobo, 2021
Chapter 16. The Mayakovsky Friends Club Party 1990
previous page: Chapter 15. The Nch-Vch Club
next page: Chapter 17. The Mayakovsky Friends Club in Europe, 1988-1989
Table of contents: see bottom of page >>
The period of 1988 to 1990 coincides with the end of the New Artists as a group organising collective events. The lineup of artists had been growing constantly, and in my article Timur Novikov’s New Artists Lists I came to the conclusion that it "proved to be impossible to keep the lineup growing without releasing centrifugal forces: if everybody is a New artist, then no one is a New Artist.” more >> This is why I fixed the end of the New Artists’ lifespan to the last major group exhibition announced with groups‘ name, И снится нам / And We Dream Of , 29 May to 29 June 1989 at the Leningrad Railroad Workers Palace of Culture. (see chapter 1 more >>).
This Mayakovsky Friends Club Night Party stood at the beginning of the Russian Rave period; perhaps it was even the first large public party in Leningrad. It featured several transvestites and was attended by emerging celebrities, such Vladislav Mamyshev dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, or DJ Alexei Haas (Хаас, Khaas), co-founder of the first private Russian dance club “Tanzpol” located in Leningrad‘s famous art-squat “Fontanka 145” more >>.
If the last "proper” New Artists group activity was in 1989, and the last activity of the Mayakovsky Friends Club was in 1990, can we infer from this that between 1988 and 1990, the newer label gradually superseded the older one?
In my opinion, the answer must be – no. The fact the Timur Novikov organised or co-organised the party doesn't mean that the New Artists continued their activities under the label Friends Mayakovsky Club.
Some other New artists were actually present at the Mayakovsky Friends Club party; in my photographic documentation are pictures of Kozlov and Gutsevich, and there might have been others, too. However, concerning art, the party stood in direct opposition to Novikov’s statement in his New Artists text from 1986 “The ‘New Artists’ formed the Club of Friends of V. V. Mayakovsky with the purpose of strengthening and developing a patriotic, innovative tradition (or, alternatively, domestic innovative traditions, see introduction, footnote 2. more >>) With a painting by Denis Egelsky as stage backdrop, the party represented Neoacademism – Novikov’s next project following the New Artists.
But the spirit of the party was also diametrically opposed to Novikov's a claim in the same text: “The process of perestroika under way in the country has stimulated self-consciousness and a victory for our own native roots over western influences.” more >> Rave parties and techno music came from the West and young Russians adapted them with great enthusiasm.
From here it follows that with its last event, the Mayakovsky Friends Club did not supersede the New Artists, but was acquiring a new image. If the New Artists were related to Pop Mekhanika performances of the perestroika period, the Mayakovsky Friends Club was now connected to the next musical period – rave parties. Whether the Mayakovsky Friends Club had the potential to fully develop this brand is now difficult to say, because the party remained a one-off event, and its concept was not pursued further.
Instead, a new label was created for the first large Russian techno party on 14 December 1991 at the Cosmos pavilion of the VDNKh (ВДНХ), Moscow: "Gagarin Party”. As the first man in space, Gagarin‘s name was definitely a stronger and trendier brand than that of Mayakovsky, and it was also more in line with the idea of cosmos. The poster for the Gagarin party was designed by Andrey Medvedev, one of the artists close to the New Artists – and later becoming a member of Neoacademism.
Besides, the name Club of Friends reappeared many years later, this time unrelated to Mayakovsky. Ekaterina Andreeva chose it as a title for an exhibtion in 2014 at the Calvert 22 Foundation, London, bringing together artists of both of Novikov’s groups, the New Artists and the Neoacademists more >>.
Uploaded 17 August 2021