Olga Rozanova, "A Little Duck's Nest... of Bad Words"

Video transcript

(music playing) Christophe: 1913 is a year of great upheaval. Artists are trying to find new ways to develop an art which would be free from the society, at least from the bourgeois order of the past decade. Books played a major role in that project, but not books as we know them. Some of those books were hand-colorized by the artist, so each is unique, propose just a different relationship between text and images. Olga Rozanova is one of the artists who pioneered this new use of books in the 2nd decade of the 20th century. Often, she worked with her companion, Aleksei Kruchenykh, a poet. "A Little Duck's Nest ... of Bad Words" is with the [tale inlay] their most famous accomplishment. Aleksei Kruchenyk invented a new language called Zaum. Zaum can be translated into transrational, or beyond reasons. The idea was to free language from meaning, to free the words, to create words for the shape or the sounds, not to be bound to a specific meaning. Books played a major role. Cheap books, small books distributed in large edition. Books without a real binding, usually the sheets are just stapled together. Most of those booklets were produced in rather large edition, a few hundred copies. However, because of their mode of distribution, they were given freely to other artists or exchanged against other works. Few of them survived, so very few copies of "The Duck's Nest", for instance, are known today. We are very lucky that in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, we have two copies, allowing to understand how the artist basically reinvented the text through the illustration, each time in that process. There is something extremely radical, to be almost a place of a performative action, which those books convey so well today. (music playing)