Lapa Azora the annual festival for the literary
and graphical avant-garde
On 20-21 November 2014, our library hosted the 8th festival for the literary and graphical avant-garde called Lapa Azora. It is the only regular festival in Russia that celebrates experimental and performative literature that discovers new meanings and aims at a synthesis with other art forms: sound, performance, visualization, multimedia formats etc.
Project Lapa Azora, curated by author and musician Evgenij V. Kharitonov, began in 2007 as a festival for constrained poetry but already a year later it attracted a multitude of other forms of experimental art from poetry to film and became the annual festival for the literary and graphical avant-garde, hosted since 2014 by the Russian State Library for Young Adults. Over the years, many Russian and foreign personalities from the world of literature, music, and art have taken part in the festival: Konstantin Kedrov, Elena Katsyuba, Sergey Biryukov, Herman Lukomnikov, Vyacheslav Kupriyanov, Herman Vinogradov, Sveta Litvak, Alexander Gornon, Valery Sherstyanoy, Tatiana Vinogradova, Dmitry Strotsev, Ry Nikonova, Anna Altshuk, Sergey Letov and many more. Partners of the festival are: Another Hemisphere magazine, the International Zaum Academy, the Russian PEN Centre, the Russian Writers’ Union, the 21st Century Writers’ Union.
This year’s festival started with the opening of a visual poetry exhibition, featuring different art forms on the border of poetry and graphics from calligrams to asemic writing in our library’s Comics Centre. Many artists took part in the exhibition: Alexander Bubnov, Tatiana Vinogradova, Nikolay and Mikhail Vyatkin, Elena Katsyuba, Konstantin Kedrov, Eduard Kulemin, Sveta Litvak, Mikhail Pogarsky, Sergey Fedin, Alexander Fedulov, Evgenij V. Kharitonov. Of special interest was Moscow artist Kira Mattisen’s collage called The Shore of Numbers, based on Velimir Khlebnikov’s poem Beast + Number.
Unfortunately, not all went as planned. On 19 November, the “Philology Day» at the festival, Alexander Bubnov, poet and doctor of philology from Kursk, was supposed to deliver a presentation/performance on “children’s spontaneous zaum”, accompanied by famous jazzman Sergey Letov’s improvisation. The event had to be cancelled because of a sudden bout of flu that “attacked» Alexander.
The main programme was a huge success, though. The Concert of Contrained and Sound Poetry on 20 November was opened by 20-year-old students of the MSU Faculty of Philology, Anna Kharitonova and Daria Savinova, who gave a performance based on Russian avant-garde poetry, from Aleksei Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov to our contemporaries Vsevolod Nekrasov and Valery Sherstyanoy.
For two hours the Conference Hall was filled with astonishing sounds of constrained and sound poetry, shamanic sound-speech and even overtone singing, fantastic images of video installations and performances. Masters of the modern Russian avant-garde came on stage: Herman Lukomnikov and Konstantin Kedrov, Elena Katsyuba and Pavel Baykov, Vadim Gershanov and Sveta Litvak, Alexander Gornon and Vera Sazhina, Valery Silivanov and Evgeny Stepanov, as well as the younger generation poets Denis Beznosov and Anna Kharitonova.
Lapa Azora festival came to a conclusion on 21 November, when the Comics Centre hosted Saint Petersburg poet and animator Alexander Gornon’s multimedia show. Alexander presented his new book and then his multimedia creations, a bizarre mixture of animation, linguistics, sound poetry, and music.