Pushkinskaya-10: Interviews and Impressions

After five weeks in St. Petersburg, adventure after adventure, and lots of lessons learned, I feel like I’m on my way to having an absolutely awesome research project (not that I wasn’t on my way before I got here). When I proposed this project, I was working off of a theme that was assigned for our study abroad program. For that assignment, we were looking at sites of memory in St. Petersburg, and developing short documentary films around interviews and filmed footage taken in the city. With that project in mind, I took my site, Pushkinskaya-10, and found a similar site in Vilnius, Fluxus Ministerija, and am now seeking to document their parallel existence with regard to the importance of physical space to artists and the legacy of unofficial art in the Soviet Union.

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Vilnius Thoughts: How half of my project happened in Four Days

Despite the fact that I keep updating this blog, I still haven’t caught up to my current situation on my research. It’s frustrating and exciting at the same time, because there is just so much that has happened, and so much still to do. I’ve been in Russia for just about three weeks now, which means I have about three weeks left to go. More importantly, though, three weeks ago I spent four days in Vilnius, Lithuania, and conducted a huge part of my research there, which is what I want to share here.

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The Dodge Collection, “Nonconformism,” and Three Weeks Down

I’ve been in Europe for approximately three weeks now, and have just less than a month left. It’s amazing how quickly time flies, and how much can happen that makes posting to a blog so much more difficult. This blog post has been on my to-do list since the day before I left the states, but various obstacles, from lack of internet-access, through reading and homework assignments, to purposefully getting lost on the streets of St. Petersburg, have gotten in the way. But here I am, mere hours from an early-morning departure for a weekend in Moscow, finally getting one of these blog posts out of my system and off my conscience.

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Pre-Departure Adventures and Nitty-Gritty Details

The last two weeks have literally been two of the most busy and exciting weeks of my life, so much so, that I’m almost surprised that 75% of that excitement is research-based. I’m currently writing from St. Petersburg, Russia, where I’ve finally settled into an exquisite home-stay apartment; however, in the past two weeks, I have spent serious time at home, in New Jersey, visiting the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University, and in Vilnius, Lithuania. This blog post, in the interest of saving myself time and sanity, will focus on the end of my stay in the states and what strides I was able to make in my research pre-departure.

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Surprise? My project proposal was just the tip of the iceberg.

After a brutal spring semester finally came to an end, I set to work on my summer research for real. I began, like all well-motivated researchers, by googling the key terms for my research project to see what came up. The first terms to be googled were “Fluxus” and “Free Culture Society” together, to see if any research had been done similar to mine. What a shock it was to see my previous blog post come up as the second search result. My first thoughts were, “the thing I am researching is a figment of my imagination and I am going to have a hell of a time trying to find information about a nonexistent topic.” Fortunately, with the help of my friends (“Congratulations! Your research topic is unique!”) and some more legitimate research sources (I love Swem), I started to sink my teeth into some good information about the nonconformist art scenes in Vilnius and St. Petersburg. It did not come as a surprise, that as I started reading, my project began to take on a life of its own, opening new doors (or, as it were, books) to be read, and twisting the whole project in a new direction. Suddenly, I was up against something a lot bigger than just loose terms like, “free culture” and “art censorship.”

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