I have more or less ignored this tumblr for the last year. I was finishing my dissertation for much of the academic year 2012-2013 and was distracted by other projects, including a couple of articles on Platonov and a few translations. (I have recently posted these to my new personal website, katharineholt.com.)
I may bring this site back to life soon, however, to help me track some of my ideas for the book manuscript that is developing out of my dissertation. In the meantime, here (and on the homepage of my personal site) is my silhouette in the Kara-Kum Desert, summer 2008.
Below are the remarks I made (more or less) during the opening part of yesterday’s roundtable on Pussy Riot at NYU’s new Jordan Russia Center, along with a couple of paragraphs I cut out of my prepared remarks because of time constraints.
Translating Pussy Riot
First of all, I’d like to thank the Jordan Center, not only for organizing this wonderful event, but also for streaming it live. I am happy to say that this has enabled at least one “viewing party” to spring up—at the artist collective Vox Populi in Philadelphia.
I was invited here today because I participated—along with some 10 or 12 other people—in the collaborative project that produced English-language translations of the Pussy Riot closing statements for the magazine n+1. I am not going to speak now about how Bela Shayevich organized our translation team or about what role I played in the preparation of the translations. If there is interest, however, I am happy to talk about this during the discussion section. Some of the other translators from our group—Marijeta Bozovic, Maksim Hanukai, and Sasha Senderovich—are here as well and they might want to share their thoughts too.
Instead I’d like to use my time to raise some general questions about the translatability of the Pussy Riot phenomenon.
As the composition of this round table and this audience suggests, this story fits into a remarkably wide range of master narratives, in Russia and outside of it: anti-Russia and anti-Putin narratives, narratives about media manipulation, the continuing relevance of feminism, the global left, performance art, punk rock, “religious warfare,” Russian Orthodoxy, and so on. Perhaps even more than the Occupy movement with which it is closely associated, “Pussy Riot” has proved to be remarkably translatable as a concept.
Details about the event:
The Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia
co-sponsored with the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and the The Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK)
Friday, September 14
20, Cooper Square, 7th Floor
Seating is limited and RSVPs are necessary. Please email Jordan.Russia.firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP
Pussy Riot: Performance, Politics, and Protest
On August 17, a Russian court sentenced three members of the feminist punk-rock performance collective called “Pussy Riot” to two years in a prison camp for “premeditated hooliganism” motivated by “religious hatred or hostility.” Six months earlier, the balaclava-clad band members had performed a “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, calling on the Mother of God to remove President Vladimir Putin from office.
Pussy Riot is at the center of domestic controversy in Russia, and their sentence has sparked outrage throughout the world. But what exactly is the significance of the Pussy Riot phenomenon? How does Pussy Riot engage with traditions of dissidence while at the same time frustration traditional expectations about political protest? How can we understand Pussy Riot in the context of performance art? What does this Russian riot girl movement tell us about feminism and gender politics in post-socialist Russia?
I gave a short presentation at Columbia last week about my recent time in Moscow, and in conjunction with this I put together a list of online resources I’ve found useful and institutions I’ve found particularly exciting. What I came up with is below.
I last updated this September 3rd. Let me know if you have suggestions. (You can find me on Twitter at @katharineholt if we aren’t connected otherwise.) And thanks to those, like Adam Leeds, Kelly Ann Kolar, and Sean Guillory, who already chimed in with great advice.
Oh, and please note that all sources are listed in no particular order.
Now that I’m back in the U.S., I’m not posting much on this tumblr. I thought I’d break the fast, though, to say that:
1) I am still collecting articles, videos, and photographs about contemporary Russian politics and political culture here. I came across many of these on Twitter; my apologies to anyone whom I have inadvertently not “hat-tipped” along the way. (I started this pin board for myself without thinking about the curatorial code and only later started sharing it with others.) Should you want to get in touch or track down some of the sources I used to gather these articles, you can find me on Twitter at @katharineholt.
2) I posted a statement here on the n+1 website about why I wanted to help out with English translations of the Pussy Riot closing statements. I played a very small role in the collaborative process that brought these translations together for n+1—I just made some edits on a couple of the statements and checked them against the originals—but it was a great honor to be involved. You can read more about the translation process on Susan Bernofsky’s blog Translationista.
One last thing…
As I wrote in n+1, I first went to Moscow 16 years ago this month, when I was 16. In honor of that anniversary—and of the fact that from now on I will have been going to Russia for more than half of my life—I post these pictures of the apartment building where my mother lived and I first visited. Fittingly enough, its street number was (Nabokovian patterns may yet emerge) 16.
After many legs of travel and much effort schlepping six months worth of luggage, we made it back to the valley of the mighty Hudson River last night. With us at all stages was a small reminder of Holland (see: hat, orange).
Thus ends the 2011-2012 academic year in Europe and 9 months of exploration. I hope we meet again soon, Old World. Til then, it will be rather nice to be home for awhile.
The astonishing Vasa (sunk 1628, rescued 1961), now housed in the Vasa Museum, along with a good deal of background material about the 17th-century Poles. Caption to the painting (c. 1640) of one Jakob Sobieski: “The costume, the long moustaches and the distinctive hairstyle are characteristics of a Polish aristocrat.”
Goodbye, Scandinavia. Goodbye, elk meat, herring, roe, delicacy.
Apparently this white boat is a hostel. Nicest boat hostel in the world?
Another taste of Fårö Island: a map annotated with the names and locations of the films Bergman shot there. (Courtesy of the Bergman Center.) On the list: 1. Såsom i en spegel (1960), a.k.a. Through a Glass Darkly; 2. Persona (1966); 3. Scener ur ett äktenskap (1973), a.k.a. Scenes from a Marriage; 4. Skammen (1968), a.k.a. Shame; 5. En passion (1969), a.k.a. The Passion of Anna; and 6. Fårödokument (1969), a.k.a. Fårö Document.