On May 22, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art will open an exhibition celebrating the 80th anniversary of the canonical Russian writer Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. Being more than a biographical project about a person’s life, the exhibition paints a picture of a whole generation delineating recognizable features and aesthetic codes of the Soviet time. The exhibition will evoke the atmosphere of Petrushevskaya’s oeuvres, in particular in one of the halls the writer’s apartment in which she once lived, worked and welcomed some of the most prominent artists of her time will be recreated.
The exhibition will expose viewers to Petrushevskaya’s literary and theatrical worlds as well as to works of contemporary artists connected with her oeuvre. Theatrical productions of Petrushevskaya’s plays became an important part of cultural life in the late 1980s, early 1990s, when, thanks to great actors such as Iya Savvina, Angelina Stepanova, Inna Churikova, Lia Akhedzhakova and Mikhail Efremov playing in the productions, people would queue overnight for tickets.
In the exhibition curator Anna Narinskaya’s view, the project endeavors to immerse viewers into the atmosphere of Petrushevskaya’s oeuvres. The writer’s memorabilia and documentary materials are displayed alongside pieces of contemporary art, which resonate with her stories in various ways. Fact and fiction coexist in one space animating Petrushevskaya’s writings and bringing out their relevance to today’s world.
The early 1970s marked the beginning of the Petrushevskaya epoch — it is then that her short-stories started to be retyped on typewriters and distributed. Her early pieces such as «Cinzano,» «Music Lessons,» and «Three Girls in Blue» boldly depict women of the stagnation period. At that time only few voiced the issue of the independence of women — although it had been declared formally by the Soviet state, it was far away from reality. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya committed herself to exploring the theme of the private woman’s life through literature, putting emphasis on mother-daughter relationships and lending feminine features to the character of the «little man,» one of the main tropes in Russian literature.
The «Petrushestvie» exhibition is one in a series of events celebrating Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s anniversary. On May 25, the «The Black Coat» performance directed by Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich will be premiered at the Meyerhold Theatre Centre. On May 26, the Theatre of Nations will hold an anniversary performance of the «Rambling Songs» («Brodyachie Pesny») cabaret show from the «Our Everything» («Nashe Vse») cycle.
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (b. 1938) is a Russian writer, novelist and playwright. She was pronounced a contemporary Edgar Allan Poe by The New York Times. Her plays were staged by such directors as Lev Dodin, Dmitry Brusnikin, Roman Viktyuk, Yuri Lyubimov amongst others. Petrushevskaya has written a number of scripts for animated films including «Tale of Tales» (1979) directed by Yuriy Norshteyn as well as fairy tales. One of most famous characters created by Petrushevskaya in recent years was Peter Pig. In 2002 the stories about his adventures were illustrated by Alexander Rakhstein. Petrushevskaya’s works have won a number of accolades, including the Pushkin Prize (1991), the Triumph Prize (2006), the Russian Federation National Award (2002), and the World Fantasy Award (2010). In 2018 her collection of short stories «The Girl from the Metropol Hotel» was nominated as year’s best autobiography by one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes, The National Book Critics Circle Award. The book recounts stories from Petrushevskaya’s life and its title refers to the place where Pertushevskaya was born and spent her early childhood, namely the Metropol hotel. In this hotel before the war her great-grandfather, Ilya Sergeevich Veger, a Bolshevik, doctor and commissar, lived with her grandmother and mother.
Anna Narinskaya is a literary critic. For many years Narinskaya has been working as a special correspondent and culture critic for one of Russia’s most influential daily newspapers, Kommersant. She is the chairman of the NOS Literature Prize jury. Anna Narinskaya is the curator and author of the concept of the exhibition «200 Keystrokes per Minute Typewriter and the 20th-Century Consciousness» which was held in MMOMA in 2016 and later that year received the Intermuseum award.