In 1924 the self-taught artist Iurii Nikolaevich Rozhkov created a series of photomontages inspired by Vladimir Maiakovskii’s propagandistic ode to labor, “To the Workers of Kursk,” and the geological discovery of the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly (KMA), the biggest iron-ore basin in the world. The series was first shown at the “Twenty Years of Work” exhibition in January 1930, which the poet himself curated. In the exhibition catalogue, Maiakovskii made note of Rozhkov’s work as: “A temporary monument. Rozhkov’s montages. To be printed.” Two months after the exhibition Maiakovskii committed suicide. Rozhkov’s photomontages remained unpublished during his lifetime. The talk introduces Rozhkov’s less-known photomontage series as a new model of the avant-garde photopoetry book, which offers a sequential reading of Maiakovskii's poem and functions as a cinematic dispositive of the early Soviet agitprop apparatus (dispositif). Bošković argues that the photopoem itself converts into an idiosyncratic avant-garde de-mountable memorial to the working class: a dynamic ciné-dispositive through which the early agitprop apparatus is realized in lived experience, reproduced, and transformed, thus delineating its shift towards the new dispositif of the late 1920s—socialist realism.
Aleksandar Bošković is a Lecturer in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian in the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University. He is the author of The Poetic Humor in Vasko Popa’s Oeuvre (Institute for Literature and Art in Belgrade, 2008) and a co-editor (with Tatjana Aleksić) of Mediated Resistance: The Struggle of Independent Mediascapes During the Yugoslav Dissolution (forthcoming at Brill, 2019). He is currently working on several projects, including the anthology of Yugoslav avant-garde “Biblioteka Zenith” editions (with Steven Teref) and the book manuscript, Slavic Avant-Garde Cinépoetry, a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary exploration of interwar photopoetry and bioscopic books within Slavic avant-gardes.