By Max Temescu (www.temescuart.com)
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havesexwithghosts: El Lissitzky, New Man, Sportsmen, and Gravediggers, from Victory Over the Sun, 1923.
‘In Moscow in 1920-21, El Lissitzky began working on a huge plan for a completely mechanical theatre. It was the most radical attempt to introduce Constructivist ideas into staging. In [a text] originally published as the foreword to his album of ten color lithographs issued in 1923, Lissitzky explained how this “electro-mechanical spectacle” was supposed to work. His conception reveals an excessively romantic attitude toward the machine. The engineer controls the whole set, which seemingly represents the universe; thanks to the machine, man can now take the place of God. Instead of actors, there are mechanically controlled figures.
‘It is significant that Lissitzky should have chosen as the demonstration of his mechanized stage a play by Alexei Kruchenikh, which had been presented in St. Petersburg in 1913 with a famous decor by Malevich. It was not particularly well suited to the new stage, but what probably impressed Lissitzky was the idea of man’s ability to dominate the sun by his technical mastery. This view of the development of the technolocal age was to reach its culmination (and hopefully its terminus) with the dropping of the atomic bomb.’
(From catalog text for the exhibition, The Machine: As Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age, curated K. G. Pontus Hultén at the Museum of Modern Art, 1968)
Viktor Vasnetsov - Ivan the Terrible (sketch), 1884.
No foreign sky protected me,
no stranger’s wing shielded my face.
I stand as witness to the common lot,
survivor of that time, that place.
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (1967)
Savva Brodsky - Illustrations to Nikolai Gogol’s “The Overcoat”
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