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Sreda

Featuring specially commissioned artworks, a podcast series and a selection of timely essays, Sreda magazine offers a nuanced view on culture and contemporaneity. Content is available for a limited period of time and updated every Wednesday. The Russian word ‘sreda’ means Wednesday and also defines the natural, geographical and social environment.

Valentina Lutsenko
Plyastsy, 2021

Video documentation of dance installation,
51 min. 54 sec.

Composer: Vladimir Gorlinsky

Visual artist: Dasha Malinina

Plyastsy: Roman Malyavkin, Nadezhda Nazarova, Nazar Rakhmanov, Anna Ryabova, Anastasia Tolchneva, Dmitry Vlasic, Arina Zvereva

Commissioned and produced by V–A–C Foundation

This issue of Sreda online magazine features documentation of a dance installation by Valentina Lutsenko, a participant in GES-2’s art residency programme. Plyastsy (“dancers” or “tumblers”) is a choreographic study of the phenomenon of comic and acrobatic performance in Russia during the early Middle Ages, a time when a high spiritual culture coexisted with a low, “pagan” culture of comedy and mockery. The work presents the forgotten figure of the “fool” (in Russian “skomorokh”), associated with ritual, shamanic, and transitional states and the indirect statement of difficult truths. The fool was primarily a comedian and jester, an entertainer of the crowd.

Lutsenko and her co-authors have also taken inspiration from the form and concept of the iconostasis (the wall-like structure on which icons are displayed). The only images of skomorokhs in Orthodox churches to have come down to us are preserved in an iconostasis-like fresco in Kiev’s St. Sophia Cathedral (one of the earliest Christian churches in Rus)—the authors of Plyastsy have borrowed the fresco’s vertical composition to arrange the performers in the installation.

Plyastsy is an original fairy tale which traces the remnants of skomorokh culture and constructs the image of the modern fool with the help of play, music, dance, and installation.

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