Documents 24. From Zaum to Punk

Radical Writing in Eastern Europe

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 - 7pm

Free, until full capacity is reached, with prior ticket collection at the Museo’s Ticket Offices or on the Museo Reina Sofía website from 10am on 12 May. A maximum of 2 per person

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200
200 people
English, with simultaneous interpreting into Spanish
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía
Titles from the Rab-Rab Press bie bao series collection
Titles from the Rab-Rab Press bie bao series collection

The Documents programme explores the relationships between art and publishing, examining themes that include the effects of archive on narratives of art history, the artist’s book and publishing as an artistic practice. On this occasion, it presents a survey of the visual poetry and avant-garde sound of Eastern Europe by way of a lecture by Sezgin Boynik (Prizren, 1977), a theorist and the founding editor of Rab-Rab Press, an independent publisher specialised in authors and movements of forgotten or liminal currents of thought from the region which oscillate between art and politics.

The lecture throws into relief the experiments of the Russian Zaum movement as a medium to subvert daily language, beginning with the work of poets Ilya Zdanevich (1894–1975), also known as Iliazd, and Igor Ternetiev (1906–2007). The Zaum movement combined Constructivism, Futurism and Dadaism to become hugely influential in the Soviet avant-garde and an essential source for revising, through new prisms, the work of Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935), Liubov Popova (1889–1924) and Alexander Rodchenko (1891–1956), among others.

Drawing from a selection of texts translated into English and published by Rab-Rab Press, accompanied by visual and sound materials, Boynik shows different channels of expansion in the publishing, design and editorial typography around sound and visual poetry, as well as their impact on experimental art in Eastern Europe. There is also an analysis of the work of Yugoslav concrete and visual poets, who experimented with poetry as a medium with which to oppose nationalism and the patriarchy, centring on the work of Judita Šalgo (1941–1996), Vujica Rešin Tucić (1941–2009), Rastko Močnik (1944), Katalin Ladik (1942), Ifigenija Zagoričnik (1953) and the collectives OHO, Westeast and Signalism, with their strong ties to the 1980s punk subculture. 

Sezgin Boynik is an editor and researcher whose work centres on the relationship between aesthetics and politics and cultural nationalism, particularly inside the sphere of the former Yugoslavia. His most recent publications include Coiled Verbal Spring: Devices of Lenin's Language (Rab-Rab Press, 2018) and Sickle of Syntax and Hammer of Tautology: Concrete and Visual Poetry in Yugoslavia ( OEI nº 90-91, 2021). In 2014, he founded Rab-Rab Press, where he publishes books combining experimental art and left-wing politics with academic rigour and a punk attitude, such as the collected work of Ilya Zdanevich, Punk Suprematism (2021), Free Jazz Communism (2019) and the publication Rab-Rab: Journal of Political and Formal Inquiries in Art. He is also a founding member of Pykë-Presje, a collective which, from Prizren (Kosovo), develops publications, exhibitions and activities around local histories of popular movements, gender emancipation and class consciousness.