"Dissidentova is ... a fine example of what resistance might sound like—revealing and reveling in the endless ugliness of the world men build, and the beauty of feminist rebellions against it." pitchfork review
by Dasha Birukova, art critic, film critic, independent curator of film / video / media art, lecturer at the Russian State University for the Humanities and the British Higher School of Design. 2018
01 Ekaterina Urusova 1747-1816 feat Katia Reshetnikova
02 Anna Bunina 1774-1829 feat old Russian oven door
03 Zinaida Gippius 1869-1945 feat KPT
04 Elena Guro 1877-1913 feat Lovozero
05 Emma Goldman 1869-1940 feat AGF
06 Alexandra Kollontai 1872-1952 feat AGF
07 Anna Akhmatova 1889-1966 feat Angelina Yershova Angelina Yershova
08 Marina Tsvetaeva 1892-1941 feat Gubaidulina
09 Nadezhda Mandelstam 1899-1980 feat AGF
10 Olga Berggoltz 1910-1975 feat Lydia Kavina
11 Elena Shvartz 1948-2010 fat Katya Rekk
12 unknown Russian austronaut 1961 feat AGF
13 Anna Politkovskaya 1958-2006 feat AGF
14 Anna Gorenko (Carp) 1972-1999 feat Olga Nosova
15 Nadezhda Tolokonnikova 1989 feat Grawkate
16 Galina Rymbu 1990 feat AGF
Princess Ekaterina Urusova [13 (24) II 1747 — after 1817] was a Russian poet during the mid-16th century. She wrote beautiful elegies, songs and other small poems and thanks to her turn of phrase, tenderness and pleasant imagery she garnered praise from the greatest writers of the period. Even Empress Ekaterina II took notice of Urusova’s work, which was phenomenal for the time. Ekaterina Urusova passionately addresses her muses, to whom the first piece of poetry is dedicated: ‘Heroides Dedicated to the Muses’ (1777), an ode to creativity and inspiration and perhaps also the silent cry of a lonely soul. To create this piece, AGF invited Katya Reshetnikova, the Moscow sound and field recording artist. We hear a recording made by Katya in a village in Vologda, in which the gentle chirping of birds and crickets resonates with the lines of Urusova’s poems. It is incredible to note that the Princess spent her childhood in Vologda province and it was purely a coincidence that Reshetnikova made her recording there. As Katya noted, she aimed to create timeless sounds that create a sense of antiquity, sounds that could have been heard during Urusova’s time, and so she chose to use a recording made in her grandmother’s village, where most of the houses are either empty or abandoned. For Reshetnikova, this village represents a link to life in the authentic Russia of centuries past, with its nature and way of life, true silence, the aroma of grass and woodland that can completely change one’s perception of the world. In the recording, we can hear the calm of a summer evening, crickets, cranes practicing taking flight in the distance, the sound of their clanging bounces several times from the edge of the woods and travels across the field with a unique echo. We can imagine that it was in a hot silence like this one that Urusova wrote her proclamation to the muses.
Anna Bunina [7 (18) January 1774 — 4  December 1829] was a contemporary of Urusova. The Russian poet and translator was known as the Tenth Muse, Corinne of the North at the time. Anna Bunina was a member of the ancient noble Bunin family, into which the great Russian writer and poet Ivan Bunin was born at the end of the 19th century. During Anna’s lifetime, the Bunin family was not particularly wealthy, after the death of her father she received a small allowance on which she moved from Ryazan province to St. Petersburg, where she began to quickly educate herself. She continued to write poetry and this soon brought her fame. In recognition of her ability, Anna Bunina was paid a stipend by Empress Elizaveta Alexeevna, while Alexander I personally kept an eye on her well-being. Soon after moving to St. Petersburg, Anna Bunina was diagnosed with cancer, which made its mark on the rest of her life and her writings. The poem “Poverty is no sin” (1813) that AGF uses for her second piece might be considered to be the confessions of Anna Bunina, in which she talks about the wealth of her ancestors and the meagreness of her own life. The rhyming lines about shame, a feeling instilled by poverty, is accompanied by the sound of an old creaking oven door. AGF delicately and precisely creates an image of the eminent poet who in spite of the hardships she faced always took solace in her writing.
Zinaida Gippius [8 (20) November 1869 — 9 September 1945] was a Russian poet, writer, playwright and literary critic. She was one of the most prominent ambassadresses of the Silver Age of Russian poetry. Together with D. Merezhkovsky, they established the poetic and ideological basis for Russian symbolism. They first had the idea to develop a "new religious consciousness", devised to eliminate the abyss between the spirit and the flesh, consecrating and therefore enlightening it, abolishing Christian asceticism that forced people to accept their sinfulness, and bringing religion and art closer together. For this track, AGF invited Karina Kazaryan to collaborate with her. The musician was born in Georgia but spent a major part of her life living in Siberia, before moving to Moscow, where she remains to this day. Karina described her hazy, grainy and psychedelic compositions as being “Lo-fi industrial, aggro illbient and intelligent noise”. She employed the same strategy for her work with Gippius’s poem, which she chose herself. In Kazaryan’s words: “I wanted to work on Zinaida Gippius and specifically on her poem ‘Dead Dawn’, because I feel closest to and most interested in symbolism, both in art and in literature. This era was one of the most colourful and revolutionary in terms of the appearance of new styles and genres. Gippius was considered to be a ‘decadent mother’ among the symbolists, as her work had a duality of darkness and light, which on the whole is something I feel close to with my music.”
Elena Guro [18 (30) May 1877 - April 23 (May 6) 1913] was a Russian artist and poet. She studied at a private school under the tutelage of Dobuzhinsky and Bakst, the leading proponents of Art Nouveau in Russia. In 1903, she met the futurist-composer Mikhail Matyushin, and from 1909 she began to cooperate closely with the futurists Velimir Khlebnikov, the Berliuk brothers and later with Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexei Kruchenykh and Kazimir Malevich. Early on, the young powerhouses of Russia’s artistic avant-garde gathered around Guro and Matsyushin. Elena Guro was just 35 years old when she died. Three months after her death, a collection of her prose and poems ‘The Three’ was released. Aspiration for the future was the main leitmotif of Guro’s works, which was an amalgam of painting, poetry and prose, an impressionistic perception of life, free verse and experiments in “zaum” (roughly translated as “trans-sense” or “trans-rational”, the ultimate poetic language). The piece dedicated to Elena Guro was created together with musician and artist Anastasia Tolchneva, aka lovozero. She was the one who selected the poem ‘Finland’ (1913), written in “zaum”, and composed using the phonetic stylization of Finnish speech. As Anastasia described: “My relationship with ‘Finland’ by Elena Guro started even back in the day when I was involved in dramatic art. Due to its peculiar structure, the poem seemed to me to be an excellent example of a female dastan, an epic rich in images and movement. I wanted to work with this poem because I see it as being open for interpretation while still being very charged and musical”. By deconstructing the recording of the recital of the poem at the same time as the soundtrack, AGF and lovozero are heaping hyperbole on the principle which is the basis of Guro’s work: to push trans-rationalism even further, which is an approach that would certainly have struck a chord with the avant-gardists.
Emma Goldman [1889-1940] was a North American anarchist that originally hailed from the Russian Empire. Dubbed ‘the new Jeanne d'Arc’ and ‘Red Emma’, she was an enemy of God, the law, marriage and the State. Goldman went on to become a landmark figure for 20th century feminism and anarchism. She fought for the rights of workers and pronounced radical slogans, like, "Demonstrate before the palaces of the rich, demand work. If they do not give you work, demand bread. If they deny you bread, take it yourself!" She gave lectures throughout America and Europe through which she shared her anarchist-feminist views. She spoke out against the institution of marriage and urged women to abandon their inhibitions - that is to embrace ‘free love’. Goldman was arrested for distributing literature on birth control. She considered abortion to be a tragic consequence of the challenging social status women found themselves in, and advocated family planning and the proliferation of contraception. Toward the end of her life, Emma Goldman was given a house in Saint-Tropez by Peggy Guggenheim, which she lived for several years while writing her autobiography, ‘Living My Life’. The track dedicated to Emma Goldman is based on the famous anarchist slogan "If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution!" which spoke about the importance of experiencing natural enjoyment while fighting for social transformation. AGF imposes a deconstructed recitation of this slogan in techno-rhythms. While the techno sound is charged with revolutionary spirit, it is interesting to note that in Russia, techno has never held any revolutionary or political power, instead remaining of purely entertainment value and distracting young people from any revolutionary activity. This is unlike the West, where rave-revolutions were based on a political foundation.
Alexandra Kollontai [9 (31) March 1872 - 9 March 1952] - Russian revolutionary, Soviet statesman and diplomat. Ambassador and Plenipotentiary of the USSR. In 1913 Alexandra Kollontai published an article "New woman", in which she developed views on the woman of a new, progressive society. The new woman seeks to become a full member of society and is guided by the following principles: victory over emotions, the development of self-discipline; freedom from jealousy, respect for the freedom of men; the woman demands from the man not material security, but the careful relation to her personality; the new woman - the independent personality, her interests are not come to the house, a family and love. To create a piece dedicated to Kollontai, AGF uses a Soviet revolutionary song, which is superimposed on the lines of the Kollontai’ speech devoted to women in the revolution. Deconstructing the melody of the famous song, AGF creates a new digital pathetic, mixing it with the effect of estrangement, and thereby rethinks the importance of the revolution of the XX century in the XXI century.
Anna Akhmatova (born Anna Gorenko) [11 (23) June 1889 - March 5, 1966] was a Russian poet during the Silver Age of Russian poetry, as well as a translator and literary critic. Akhmatova was one of the most significant figures in 20th century Russian literature and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature (1965 and 1966). Anna Akhmatova managed to convey through her works that women are more deeply emotionally aware of the world around them, and experience much stronger internal turmoil than the other sex. Her first collection of poems, titled ‘Evening’ and published in 1912, drew recognition for Akhmatova among literary circles. The poet’s very first collection contained the poem "I’ve learned to live simply, wisely..." (1912), which AGF used in the next part of her collection. AGF called upon the outstanding Kazakh composer, pianist and singer Angelina Yershova to create the piece. She interprets the poem about the thirst for happiness, something Akhmatova dreamed of, with the help of gentle piano swirls and the velvety resonance of the spoken lines, creating a feeling of home comfort, which remained something elusive to Akhmatova, the most charismatic representative of the Silver Age.
Marina Tsvetaeva [September 26 (October 8) 1892 - August 31, 1941] was a Russian poet during the Silver Age of Russian poetry. She was also wrote prose and was a translator. Shortly before she returned to her homeland after time spent living abroad, Tsvetaeva created her last poetic series, which she devoted to Czechoslovakia. The lyrical hero, or rather the heroine, considers Czechoslovakia to be her native land, a ‘humble’ and fertile corner of the world, and therefore she passionately opposes the Nazi occupation, bitterly painting the picture of the destruction of Prague, the death of fertile ‘small fields’ and enthusiastically describing episodes of bravery from the resistance by the "people I love." The poem ‘Oh, tears in my eyes!’ was written in the spring of 1939 and is the emotional culmination of this stage of the poet’s work. The poem can be defined in terms of genre as a literary text with lamentations, urgent pleas and expressions of grief and complete despondency, which combine to bring the work close to a well-known form of traditional Slavic folklore. This is the poem that AGF has chosen to make the piece dedicated to Tsvetaeva. The sound track is loaded with a sense of despair and bitter sadness, embodying the tragic fate of the poet. It resembles the choral tribute “Hommage à Marina Tsvetayeva” to Marina Tsvetaeva by composer Sofia Gubaidulina, in which she develops a key trend in 20th century music: extending the scales of vocal techniques, focusing on the space between song and speech that can be used to reflect the subtleties of Tsvetaeva's poetry.
Nadezhda Mandelstam [18 (30) October 1899 - December 29, 1980] was a Russian writer, diarist, linguist, teacher. After going through the horror of Stalin's terror, Nadezhda Mandelstam writes a lot about repressions in her “Memories”. Mandelstam in general, felt anger and bitterness against the Stalinist system. The temper of Mandelstam was not close to the "female" ideal of patience and tolerance, she often entered into disputes and was picky and intransigent. For a piece devoted to Mandelshtam, AGF uses the quote of the author: "... I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity", in which the writer speaks about her experience - about what she took from her life, from the past era. AGF says this phrase many times, mixing it with what sounds like marching soldiers in the snow, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the Gulag or the Solovki special purpose camp. The impossibility of humanity that characterized the Stalin era, as an echo passes through the sound-scape created by AGF.
Olga Bergholz [May 3 (16), 1910 - November 13, 1975] was a Russian Soviet poet, writer, playwright and journalist. During the siege of Leningrad, Bergholz was a radio broadcaster. Her voice, carried by the only working radio station, was known by everyone, and many survivors recalled that it quite literally saved them during those dark, hungry times. Bergholz read her poetry through the microphone directly into the apartments in the beleaguered city, as well as poems from those that brought news of bombings or firefights in the city and, above all, poems that encouraged residents of the besieged city, to maintain their very last hope for survival. In her piece dedicated to Bergholz, AGF uses a stanza from the poets "Leningrad Poem" (1942), the work which led to her being dubbed "the muse of the blockaded city". AGF sings this stanza, pairing it with radio noise, before completing the piece with the help of outstanding theremin-player Lydia Kavina, who catches the melody sung by AGF and imitates it with the waves of the theremin. The unearthly sounding waves of the theremin seem to embody Bergholz’s broadcasting during the inhuman conditions of the siege.
Elena Shvarts [7 May 1948 – 11 March 2010] was a Russian poet and novelist, an iconic figure of the Leningrad unofficial culture of the 1970s and 1980s. Her life is a selfless service to a poetic lyrical task. In this sense, she was fanatically devoted to the lyrics, in which she resisted the "language", reflecting the unstable state of Soviet society and the taboo of unofficial art. For a piece dedicated to Schwartz, AGF invited experimental musician and sound artist Katya Rekk, who chose the poem " Remembrance of a strange treat". It says about a woman, about women, about the beginning of the divine feminine: love, generosity, nurture, gentleness, peace, and consolation, that was attracted Rekk. Schwartz seems to turn simple words in her lyrics into shining diamonds, and the echoes of these diamonds we hear in the rhythmic landscape of the piece that Katya created with a synthesizer made by Russian media artist ::vtol::. She recorded several vocal tracks, playing with little differences in intonations and rhythm of the text, then mixed them, imparted to the sound composition more airiness and a sense of otherworldliness, which were intensified by the final processing by AGF.
Unknown astronaut. This piece is based on a youtube entry AGF found, containing a recorded “transmission intercepted” of a burning space craft attempting re-entry into earth atmosphere by a Russian speaking female astronaut in 1961. The recording is “fake news” and part of conspiracy theories also documented on wikipedia under "Lost Cosmonauts". In reality 1963 Valentina Tereshkova blasted off in a Vostok-6 spaceship and remains the only known woman to have ever made a solo flight in space. The story of women and space travel can be viewed as a kind of history of feminism, although more based on politics than on the emancipation of women. It is even more curious to note that the program of taking women to space was first implemented by the Soviet Union, but in 1985 they were also the first to bring it to a close, while female astronauts are still in service in America. This piece features the found recording and AGF reading the text in English, combined with the sound of the launch of a space rocket, which gives it a sense of authenticity.
Anna Politkovskaya [August 30, 1958 - October 7, 2006] was a Russian journalist, human rights activist and writer. She devoted particular attention to the conflict in Chechnya. From 1999, she was a special correspondent and columnist for “Novaya Gazeta”. Politkovskaya made repeated trips to the conflict zone. She received several awards for journalism for her series of reports on military operations in Chechnya in January 2000. On October 7th 2006, Politkovskaya was gunned down in the elevator of her apartment building. The official version of the investigation into her murder recorded that it was a reprisal for her investigations in Chechnya. Politkovskaya’s colleagues wrote the following about the journalist in her obituary: "She was amazingly courageous. Much more courageous than most, even many of the hard men in their armoured jeeps, surrounded by bodyguards. They threatened and tried to intimidate her, she was under surveillance and subject to searches. She was arrested in Chechnya by ‘our own’ (Russian, D.B.) commandoes who threatened her with execution. They poisoned her when she flew to Beslan. She managed to pull through... She always wrote the truth. It was another matter entirely that the truth was often so awful that the majority refused to perceive it as such." For the piece devoted to Anna Politkovskaya, AGF uses an excerpt from an interview with the journalist in which she sets out her professional principles and her ideals in life, laments the absence of freedom of speech and her puzzlement at the brutality of the Russian and the Chechen military. AGF reads this text against a militaristic soundscape, with the sound of artillery shells, grenades going off and the sound of bullets whizzing by. 11 years have passed since Politkovskaya’s murder but the heinousness of the crime remains fresh in the mind of everyone with even a vague interest in the political situation in Russia.
Anna Gorenko (Karpa) [January 6, 1972 - April 4, 1999] was a Russian poet that lived in Israel. During the 1990’s there was a habit among a number of poets to combine infantile and necrotic motifs. The key role in this movement was played by the so-called ‘angry young women.’ One such poet was Anna Gorenko. She took Anna Akhmatova’s real name as a pseudonym. Gorenko's poems can be characterized not only by a combination of the motifs of childhood and death, but by assertions that childhood is somehow “forbidden”. Dissonance between parts of a sentence, and the disrupted syntax in Gorenko's works give the reader the effect of being ‘on a trip’. Combined with shifts in concept, these are characteristic of many authors from the drug subculture and are creative methods Gorenko consistently incorporated into her poetry. Anna Gorenko died on April 4, 1999 as a result of a heroin overdose. AGF invited Olga Nosova to collaborate on the piece dedicated to Gorenko. Nosova is a musician specializing in percussion and electronic instruments. As Olga wrote: "AGF proposed this poet and I also found her work interesting. I selected some of the rhythm parts I composed in Berlin, which had the right emotional charge for Gorenko’s work." The drums are underscored with a field recording AGF made in 2017 on a Moscow construction side near Kremlin. Amid the ecstatic percussion we can hear a verse of the poet: "So we're brother and sister / let’s descend into the void”.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova [b. November 7, 1989] is a member of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot. Tolokonnikova’s activities certainly ignite debate and never more so than today, as she is organizing protests against the presidency of Trump in America or filming commercial music videos, but the Pussy Riot trial was a watershed moment in Russia, as it exposed the exploitative nature of the Russian justice system and the willingness of the authorities to punish protesters severely. Moscow-based techno producer rawkate initiated this piece devoted to Tolokonnikova with contributing a techno riff and a personal exchange correspondence she had with Nadia while she was in prison. Toloko’s response is read in English by rawkate and by AGF in Russian to the changing beat until it disintegrates into found protest recordings from Moscow 2018.
Galina Rymbu [b. July 20, 1990] is a poet, literary critic and activist. She was born in Omsk and resides in St. Petersburg. Rymbu talks about her “poetic writing as a possible effective linguistic and sensual alternative to cognitive and communicative capitalism, about searching not for home, work or family, but ‘shelter’/ ‘asylum’, autonomy and queer kin, about how poetic interaction with space can work today, and the creation of new / hidden places (shelters) within the occupied landscapes of the world, the body, perception and language.” In the piece dedicated to Rymbu, AGF reads the poem ‘Sex is a Desert’ laid atop a rich musical composition. Rymbu’s work is confessional in nature, a confession about where flesh and soul meet; castigation and suffering; violence and love; weeping in the desert where it can be heard by no one, and even if it is heard it is ignored; shackles of the vicious world that perhaps can never be removed.
list of Russian poetesses
feminism in Russia
Russian language poets
German edition: Gedichterbe
Finnish edition: Kuuntele
Japanese edition: A Deep Mysterious Tone
Antye Greie works
AGF - Poem Producer Website