Newsletter Issue 10-11 (2020)


Dear colleagues, friends, and supporters of Apparatus,

Looking back on 2020 from the (socially distanced) vantage point of the new year we’re delighted to share with you a recap of last year’s activities, when we published two issues of Apparatus, as usual, plus we introduced a new open-access format in HTML which we called Open Apparatus Books

In 2020, Apparatus celebrated the 5th anniversary and has been suggested to be included into the SCOPUS database.

We were delighted that Denise Youngblood has joined our team as an editor. Irina Schulzki has in 2020 become the publishing director. Evgenia Trufanova is now the head of the Review Section. Another 2020 addition to our team was John-Thomas Eltringham, our new IT director.

Issue 10

As our regular readers will know, some issues focus on a particular theme while others take a more general approach. Issue 10 – a large issue (six articles, an interview, and eight reviews) – was a little different in that it included elements of both. 

  • We are immensely proud to have published the last essay written by Robert Bird. Many of you will know his work on Tarkovsky and in this deeply personal text, he considers the director’s work, life and death, and his own cancer diagnosis. 

  • That Tarkovskian theme was continued as Andrei Apostolov (writing in Russian) traced the director’s tortuous attempts to adapt Dostoevsky’s The Idiot for the screen.  

  • We are always interested in new approaches and tools for scholarship and were fascinated by Joan Neuberger’s use of digital network analysis to improve our understanding of personal and professional relationships in the Soviet film industry and cast new light on the narrative of centralised control.

  • Susanne Strätling’s lucid essay considers the degrees of rationality and permanence that we ascribe to numbers and words and how those assumptions can lead to ‘miscalculations’ in literature. 

  • Nenad Jovanovic takes another approach to signification, looking at Harun Farocki and Andrei Ulică’s film on the Romanian 1989 Revolution, widely considered one of the most important political films ever made.

  • The final item in Issue 10 was unusual for us: a response to a more topical event – the DAU project and the controversies around its production. We invited artists, academics, festival curators, and critics to write short pieces on any aspect which interested them, to bring together several viewpoints in different languages, some sympathetic and others less so. 

  • Apparatus was happy to include Masha Shpolberg’s and Lukas Brasiskis’ interview with three emerging filmmakers and video artists who discuss the climate crisis and ecocinema in the context of Eastern Europe. 

Finally, we published reviews of seven books and one exhibition: 

  • Iva Glisic discusses Russian Performances: Word, Object, Action (ed. by Julie A. Buckler, Julie A. Cassidy, and Boris Wolfson).

  • Kovács András Bálint’s book on Bela Tarr, A kör bezárul. Tarr Béla filmjei (The Cinema of Béla Tarr: The Circle Closes) is reviewed in Hungarian by Iván Forgács.

  • Anna Batori addresses The Cinematic Bodies of Eastern Europe and Russia

  • Katherine M. H. Reischl’s Photographic Literacy: Cameras in the Hands of Russian Authors is reviewed in German by Oksana Maistat.

  • Michal Klodner writes in Czech on Michael Goddard’s Guerilla Networks of the 1970s

  • Szilvia Ruszev delves into Elena Vogman’s Sinnliches Denken: Eisensteins Exzentrische Methode.

  • Sylvia Chassaing reviews Russia – Art Resistance and the Conservative-Authoritarian Zeitgeist (ed. by Lena Jonson and Andrei Erofeev).

  • The John Heartfield exhibition in London is discussed in Gracia Ramirez’s contribution.

Open Apparatus Books

In October 2020, the first Open Apparatus Book (OAB) was published - an anthology consisting of 24 HTML pieces, based on a conference which took place in Cabaret Voltaire, Zürich, as part of a European Research Grant. In Doing Performance Art History. Perspectives of Actors and Observers, edited by Sandra Frimmel, Tomáš Glanc, Sabine Hänsgen, Katalin Krasznahorkai, Nastasia Louveau, Dorota Sajewska, and Sylvia Sasse, artists, art historians, and curators reconstruct and reflect on their interventions in and contributions to the history of performance art in Eastern Europe.  The contributors include Nikita Alexeev, Judit Bodor, Sandra Frimmel, Tomáš Glanc, Ion Grigorescu, Daniel Grúň, Marina Gržinič, Tibor Hajas, Sabine Hänsgen, Roddy Hunter, Julia Klaniczay, Barbora Klímová, Kata Krasznahorkai, Sofia Kulik, Claus Löser, Anna Molska, Andrei Monastyrski, Pavlína Morganová, Tomáš Pospiszyl, Dorota Sajewska, Sylvia Sasse, Gabriella Schuller, Sven Spieker, Tamás St. Turba, and Vadim Zakharov. This publication was supported by the University of Zürich and ERC funds.

New publishing strategy

In the difficult year of 2020 when our world was shattered by Covid-19 and other catastrophes such as the earthquakes in Croatia and the death of an Apparatus author, we decided to change our publishing model to a rolling basis. This allowed us to take advantage of online publishing to release journal content continuously when needed. We started with this new form of publishing in September, a couple of days after we had learned the sad news of Robert Bird’s premature death. Robert had just recently signed off on the piece, and the editor-in-chief regrets to this day not to have published it on the day it arrived back from Robert.

Issue 11

Following this launch of this new format, we started publishing ApparatusIssue 11, which was guest-edited by Goran Pavlić from Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. and took as its theme Yugoslav Performance Art. The editorial Yugoslav Performance Art: On the Deferred Production of Knowledge was followed by five articles. There were also five reviews and previously unpublished archival materials.

  • Gal Kirn asks  “Was Dancing Possible During the Fascist Occupation of Yugoslavia”. 

  • Jasna Žmak looks at “Ritual Aspects of the Youth Day Celebration in Yugoslavia” (in Croatian), a scrupulous elaboration of a neglected theme.

  • Jasna Žmak focuses on the ritual aspects of the rallies (“slet”) held during the Youth Day celebrations in Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1988. Petra Belc writes on “Apparatus as Content: the Performativity of Technology and Yugoslav Experimental Film” (in Croatian), after Ol'ha Briukhovets'ka’s "Aparat" chy "dyspozytyv"? (Nr 1) the second theoretical approach to the term ‘apparatus’. Petra’s research of Yugoslav experimental film is pioneering insofar it maps and interprets the archives of amateur Kino-Clubs and film aficionados.

  • Tanja Šljivar examines Bojan Djordjev’s “The Discreet Charm of Marxism”

  • Dejan Sretenović develops Peggy Phelan’s ideas of the ontology of performance (in Croatian). 

As our guest editor, Goran Pavlić, pointed out, the two latter texts in their argumentative manner are inspired by analytical philosophy.

  • Outside the issue’s main theme, we also published previously unknown photographs of biomechanical acting exercises from the private archive of Pavel Urbanovich, a Meyerhold disciple and biomechanics teacher. These archival photographs are accompanied by Irina Sirotkina’s and Valerii Zolotukhin’s percipient art historical commentary. 

The review section includes:

  • Eisenstein’s autobiography Beyond the Stars reviewed by Helen Grace.

  • Gal Kirn reviews Elena Vogman’s Dance of Values. Sergei Eisenstein's Capital Project.

  • A critical historiography of affect and embodiment in late 19th and early 20th century Russia - Ana Hedberg Olenina’s  Psychomotor Aesthetics - is reviewed by Amanda Barbour.

  • Åsne Ø. Høgetveit discusses The Contemporary Russian Cinema Reader. 2015-2016 (ed. by Rimgaila Salys).

  • Finally, our team member Evgenia Trufanova writes a critical appraisal of the book ALCOHOL: Soviet Anti-Alcohol Posters.

We hope you enjoy looking back over these and our earlier issues and find them useful. Please tell your colleagues about Apparatus and use our work in your research; each article comes with a suggested citation. We also welcome comments, feedback, suggestions and approaches from potential contributors. 

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From the Apparatus team,

Natascha Drubek, John-Thomas Eltringham, Elena Hamidy, Adelheid Heftberger, John Leman Riley, Irina Schulzki, Mario Slugan, Evgenia Trufanova, and Denise Youngblood.