After Death Comes Humor: On the Poetics of Alexander Vvedensky

  • Keti Chukhrov
Part of the Performance Philosophy book series (PPH)


The chapter traces the focal points in the artistic method of OBERIU (Ob’edinenie realnogo iskusstva, Union of Real Art) member Alexander Vvedensky. Written in the most ruthless years of Stalin’s regime, when the OBERIU group was totally marginalized and constantly under the risk of arrests and executions, Vvedensky’s poetry and dramaturgy achieve the heights of rigorous humor. In them eschatology and catastrophe evolve into anarchic play, which paradoxically, instead of depression, articulates almost athletic energy. Vvedensky’s poetics undermines not only the semiological coherence of language, but also the conventional anthropology of enunciation, inventing a fantastic nonsensical semantics, which is not simply an absurdity, but a philosophic discovery of excessive being and added time of performance despite and after death. It is exactly in the mode of dying and the proximity of death that the tropes of humor and laughter emerge to their utmost. If for Beckett the temporality of the catastrophe causes a complete anemia of action and proposition, and its protagonists remain stuck in this negative empty blankness of being, hence “theatre” there becomes the utmost minimum of language, being, landscape, movement, Vvedensky’s catastrophe conversely becomes a form of paradoxical and joyous after-life, surpassing the end of the world; it is the temporality and ontology of idiots who leap out of the dead world and arrest time due to their rigorous incapacity to comply with the apocalyptic mood. The chapter divines in Vvedensky’s writing crucial methods enabling to exert such an effect by means of poetic and performative language.


Death Humor Nonsense Acrobatics Eventality 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keti Chukhrov
    • 1
  1. 1.Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia

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