Ugly Duckling Presse

Death to Art

Vasilisk Gnedov

translated by Emilia Loseva, Danny Winkler

Fall 2018
Death to Art has become a symbolic monument to the beginning of the anti-art movement and to the emerging silhouette of the epoch of performance, happenings, body art and verbal anarchy. With his forehead painted golden, bunches of flowers rolled around his arms, spitting onto the audience, calling them idiots, Gnedov was allowed to be dirty, brutal and obscene, an no one could be hurt by his insults. He became a cult hero, an anti-prophet in anti-time. Acting as a shameless extrovert, the poet kept his "true" stories undisclosed and later in life spoke little of that period, as if his memories were lost along with his personal archives. Only medical records recall, he "led a wild life, had a number of eccentricities; was noted amongst the Futurists for his talent; his Poem of the End was especially popular–it had no subject matter."
Excerpt ˇ


Dedicated to those who are deaf and blind.

Tears dropple off rowantreems lo –
Horsanna grinning in undersleeve,
Fall you all silent impious scoffoul –
With my eyes I painted my brain’s hem,
With my beasts drunk hawkry honk-honk –
My foot through the sun splashes plonk.

Rolls down the steep slope the crutch of the middle
Unwaitedly yellow are mop-headed leaps,
Dived by its tail is the playgue graveyard
The mare’s greyhair beats at the temples
Eating shale’s tongs the torchered weeps
And the mountains raised heigh their arms rerd.

Little wing father pebble of sorrow –
Snitched the rainbow of an eye,
I wear out the leaper of the steel finger
It will jump back into my sleeve
And the berry of the sentry no painsounds
I am riding over the stale mounds.

Close ˆ

About the Author

Vasilisk Gnedov
Vasilisk Gnedov (1890–1978) was one of the most radical poets of Russian Futurism who experimented with new devices aiming to create a new content. His poetry was a precursor to the absence of text and its replacement with the elements of gesture. Often quoted and misinterpreted, Death to Art was published in 1913.

About the Translator

Emilia Loseva
Emilia Loseva is an independent author who writes and translates poetry, essays, film scripts and conceptual texts for multi-disciplinary events. She worked on films and other projects with Danny Winkler. Together they completed a book of English translations of Russian Futurist poet Vasilisk Gnedov. This undertaking followed the translation of an anthology of Futurist poets, "Futurosis", for a music project by avant-garde composer Nick Sudnik. She is currently translating the experimental poetry of Willy Melnikov for a forthcoming event in St Petersburg.
Danny Winkler
Danny Winkler (1976 – 2014) worked with experimental photography before completing postgraduate Visual Anthropology studies at Goldsmiths College in London. Having previously worked with the United Nations, British Council, and One World Media, he was involved with anthropological projects, documentary scripts and freelance writing.