The publication Coiled Verbal Spring: Devices of Lenin’s Language brings together the first English language translation of the Russian Formalist and Futurist writings on Lenin’s revolutionary language. The book includes the Russian Formalists’ (Vikto Shklovsky, Boris Eikhenbaum, Yuri Tynyanov, Tomashevsky, Lev Yakubinsky, and Boris Kazansky) most ‘political’ texts, first published in 1924 in the journal of the Left Front of the Arts (edited by Mayakovsky). Together with this collection, the publication also includes Futurist poet Alexei Kruchenykh’s Devices of Lenin’s Speech, from 1925. Indispensable for any serious research dealing with the relationship between revolutionary politics and artistic forms, these writings had remained a marginal note, both in studies on avant-garde art, and in much literature on Formalist theory.
With this book, Rab-Rab Press is proud to present the first English translation of the most interesting project of political Formalism in the twentieth century.
The publication will be presented by Sezgin Boynik, who edited the book, and who wrote an extensive introduction to the translations by contextualising the experiments of the Russian avant-garde through theories of conjuncture, or more precisely, the theory of contemporaneity within the revolutionary moment, which allows for discerning the formal compatibilities and contradictions between political hegemony and artistic tropes.
The event is part of the project Inconvenient Past, curated by Livia Pancu and Florin Bobu for 1+1.
Rab-Rab is an English language journal dealing with political and formal inquiries in art, published bi-annually in Helsinki by Rab-Rab Press under the direction of Sezgin Boynik and Gregoire Rousseau. They are against using art as a pretext for a fictive triumph where “in the end, everything always works out” (Brecht). So far they have published six numbers of the journal on the special topics of language, noise, forest, and remembering as future; artist’s book with linocuts on political history of paper industry in Finland, pamphlet on Zaum poetry, and the translation of Viktor Shkolsvky’s children’s book on cinema; and organised talks by Ben Watson, Rasha Salti, Michael Corris, and Jacques Rancière in Helsinki. Currently, Rab-Rab Press is working on the research and publishing project called The Forms of People’s Revolt, which will result in a series of publications.