Oracle in Writing: is Russia’s future already in the past?

Literary Concert

In both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, in a way, literature was the only free platform for a discourse about the destiny of the country and its’ alternative futures. Sometimes writers and poets would dream, trying to find a road that Russia should travel along and envision the pictures of a bright, optimistic world through utopias; while in other cases, writers had a great fear for the future and produced dystopias as a kind of warnings. In parallel, there were authors who showed a great intuition and perception of the atmosphere of the time, even had the foresight to predict some of the most crucial events of 20th century Russian history, i.e. as Revolutions and Stalin’s repressions.

But just one or two decades before the collapse of USSR, Russian literature seemingly stopped predicting such futures – public and literary attention was shifted to (what was then) the present day. For the last 20 years Russian writers and poets who tried to speak about the future either created the dark images of Russia’s possible future compiled from past historical traumas and fears of the present, or they created a space for escapist dream that could have reduced the perceived pain.

But had the future really disappeared from Russian literature? Is it possible to project it in some other way than through a concrete outcome? Is the power of a word and a text, that raises questions rather than gives answers, capable to shift the perception and attitude towards the future?

Oracle in Writing is a research project and a book of citations designed by Olga Metalnikova – Strelka student of this year. The book provides the reader with a sampling of quotes from Russian literature, which, once compiled, offer a multitude of possibilities and interpretations of country’s past, present and future in order to stimulate questions and make the reader feel engaged with the future of Russia.

The project presentation began with a short foreword by Olga Metalnikova and continue withd a literary concert, when young poets and actors read selected excerpts from the book.

Olga Metalnikova is a geographer, specialist in Russian regions and towns, graduate of Strelka Educational Programme 2012/2013.

Texts were read by:

Alexander Simakov – singer, winner of the first prize of the contest “Stars of the big cities”

Boris Pertsel – actor

Anna Matyushenskaya – actress

Daria Kudritskaya – musical theatre actress

Petr Vorotyntsev – teacher at History and Philology Department at RSUH

Nadezgda Lumpova – actress at Praktika theatre, GITIS graduate, studio of O.L. Kudryashov

Elena Pestereva – poet, literary critic, Moscow State University graduate, 2003