NOM and the Art of the Absurd
Local arts collaborative takes the grotesque to extremes on a new album that is released this week.
Published: May 8, 2013 (Issue # 1758)
NOM, the St. Petersburg arts collaborative active in music, visual arts and film, continues to explore human nature, the particularities of the Russian character and the current state of the country in its trademark grotesque way on its new album, “In the Animal World” (V Mire Zhivotnykh), to be premiered in Moscow and St. Petersburg this week.
While the collaborative maintains they are not political activists, its 26–year history is nevertheless marked by consistent challenges to the powers-that-be, through its multi-genre, politically engaged work.
Art and Politics, in the Studio and on the Streets
NOM started out in Leningrad during perestroika in 1987, when Soviet society began to open and censorship was becoming less strict, but now finds itself in disagreement with the increasingly stifling atmosphere of Putin’s Russia.
Kagadeyev and other members of NOM took part in the most important protest marches against electoral fraud and the re-installment of Putin last year.
“Kopeikin and I even made arty placards, and the march was really massive, [even though temperatures were] below minus 30 degrees centigrade,” he said, “The crowd stretched from Oktyabrsky Concert Hall to Mikhailovsky Palace.”
Although massive protests were followed by political repression, Kagadeyev suggests that NOM’s work is helping to change things, even if the result is not immediately apparent.
“What we do somehow influences people’s minds, perhaps the young ones, but it will have its effect at some time in the future,” he said.
“So far [pro-Kremlin pop band] Lyube and a tear on the cheek of our beloved re-elected president are today’s realities, unfortunately.”
The Kremlin’s attacks on freedom of speech and dissent conceal the total corruption going on behind closed doors, according to Kagadeyev.
“As [Viktor] Pelevin wrote rightly in his last book, the objective of our state’s activities is to make the life of its citizens as unbearable as possible,” he said.
“And the main thing is that everybody understands that concrete deals are made behind the scenes, [by people who are] all practical and industrious, but essentially thieves. But we’re supposed to accept the façade.
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