The New Social Environment#816

Komar and Melamid: A Lesson in History

Featuring Julia Tulovsky, Komar and Melamid, Olga Zaikina-Kondur, and Johnny Sagan, with Eugene Ostashevsky


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Curator Julia Tulovsky, collaborators Komar and Melamid, and art historian Olga Zaikina-Kondur join curator Johnny Sagan for a conversation. We conclude with a poetry reading by Eugene Ostashevsky.

In this talk

Visit Komar and Melamid: A Lesson in History, on view at Zimmerli Art Museum through July 16, 2023 →

Julia Tulovsky

Photo of Julia Tulovsky
Julia Tulovsky is curator for Russian and Soviet nonconformist art at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. A specialist in Russian art, she holds a PhD from Moscow State University, and before coming to the Zimmerli, she worked at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Since 2001, she has served as executive director of the Malevich Society in New York, becoming a board member in 2015. She has been at the Zimmerli Art Museum since 2007 and has organized more than twenty exhibitions. She has published broadly on Russian avant-garde and contemporary art, in both Russian and English.

Komar & Melamid

Black and white photo of Komar & Melamid
Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid were born in Moscow, USSR. Both graduated from Stroganoff Art Academy in 1967. In 1972, Komar and Melamid founded Sots Art - conceptual eclectic art based on cliches of the Soviet propaganda and the world’s art history. In 1974 their works, made in collaboration, were destroyed by the Soviet authorities during the disbanded “Bulldozer Exhibition” - the unofficial artists’ group show. In 1976 their works were smuggled out to New York and had a successful show at Ronald Feldman Gallery. Komar & Melamid have lived in New York since 1978 and participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Documenta, Kassel and Venice Biennale. In 2003, Komar and Melamid ended their collaboration and they have been working individually.

Olga Zaikina-Kondur

Photo of Olga Zaikina-Kondur
Olga Zaikina-Kondur is an art historian and curator, whose research focuses on modern and contemporary art. She earned a PhD in 2022 from Pennsylvania State University. In her dissertation Art in the Late Soviet Apartment, she examined the role of domestic materiality and related everyday practices in Moscow Conceptual art. Olga’s work has been published in the University of Toronto Art Journal, AAFiles, Hyperallergic blogazine, and elsewhere. Her curatorial experience includes conceptual art exhibitions and performative art reenactments.

Johnny Sagan

Photo of Johnny Sagan
Johnny Sagan studies Fine Art and Art History at Hunter College as a student in the Painting Department. He is an alumnus of the Hunter Painting Fellowship and the Mellon Public Humanities and Social Justice Scholars Program and in former incarnations in New York, worked as a curator and fashion functionary, including for his own gallery URSA NYC and his own fashion label Snowy Wilderness. He is currently working on two books, Hatching A Spirit: The Journey Of The Moscow Conceptualists and A Seismograph Of The Soul: Art As A Spiritual Practice.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Eugene Ostashevsky reading.

Eugene Ostashevsky

Black and white photo of Eugene Ostashevsky
Photo by Una Ostashevsky
Eugene Ostashevsky was born in 1968 in Leningrad, USSR, grew up in New York, and now lives mainly in Berlin. His Feeling Sonnets, published in 2022 by Carcanet in the UK and NYRB Poets in the US, examine the effects of speaking a non-native language on emotions, parenting, and identity. As a translator of Russian avantgarde literature, Ostashevsky is best known for his OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism (Northwestern UP, 2006) and Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to Think (with Matvei Yankelevich; NYRB Poets, 2013). His translations of contemporary Russophone writing include F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry (co-edited with Ainsley Morse and Galina Rymbu; isolarii, 2020) and Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets (New Directions, 2022).

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.