Abstract: The revolutionary poet Vladimir Maiakovskii set out to write a commemorative poem after Lenin’s death, completing it almost a year later. His poem Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was published by Leningrad’s State Publishing House (Gosizdat) as a separate edition in February 1925, featuring no illustrations. It remains a question of what kind of cinépoetry book it would be had it been accompanied by a series of photomontages that the two constructivist graphic artists, Sergei Senkin and Gustav Klutsis, created soon after, inspired by Maikovskii’s verses. This lecture represents a quest for the cinépoetry book’s spectral materiality.
In an aim to capture the ciné-poem’s revolutionary imaginary, the lecture offers a speculative theory about the possible effects such a ciné-dispositive—as a visionary, visual agit-technology—would have produced. Based on a dialogue between Maiakovskii’s verses and Senkin and Klutsis’s accompanying poster-like photomontages, Bošković argues that it would be reductionist to read the agit-cinépoetry book as a celebration of Lenin’s personality cult. Instead, he proposes that we should apprehend the work as a blueprint for a Soviet ideology converter: an agit-ciné-dispositive, producing a vertigo effect both verbally and visually, inculcating an experience of excitement and joy in the prosumer, inciting their ideologic conversion through active engagement in participatory and revolutionary culture.
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 (2008). His articles appeared in scholarly journals in the United States and Europe (Slavic Review, Cultural Critique, Apparatus, Digital Icons, Književna istorija) and various edited collections. As a 2019-2020 Collegium de Lyon fellow, he is currently writing a monograph on Soviet constructivist cinépoetry.