Off-Modern ManifestoProjectsPublicationsIndex of Works

Hybrid Utopias (Tatlin with Butterfly)

The original black and white photograph is of Russian avant-garde artist Vladimir Tatlin trying to operate his own flying machine "Letatlin" in 1931. Tatlin was briefly employed by the Soviet aviation industry, which believed that he could create a perfect spy plane. Instead, Tatlin made a model for the biomorphic flying vehicle with the silk wings. It couldn't fly -- not in a literal sense, at least. After these experiments Tatlin was declared to be "no artist at all" and was unable to exhibit his works untill his death.

I found on the web the images of Tatlin's studio and accidently printed on it the picture of Nabokov's butterfly (also from the web) in a different scale. Then I remembered that in my Soviet high school we studied projects of hybrid socialist biology, particularly the work of Michurin, who endlessly cross-fertilized pear and apple. So i realized that I accidently cross-fertilized two different twentieth-century cosmic utopias -- Nabokov's and Tatlin's -- who are usually opposed. This experiment also reflects my shortage of printing paper, and how shortages can be good for art.

A couple of years (and many advances in nostalgic technology) later, I found the picture and rephotographed it in natural and electric light capturing on its "professional gloss surface" sparse sunbeams of the New England winter.



View Fullscreen Slide Show

Home | Book of Complaints and Comments | All works © Svetlana Boym