Please join us on Friday, March 1st for “Is Madness Revolutionary?: Pavel Ivanovich Karpov’s Tvorchestvo dushevnobol’nikh ”, a talk with Branislav Jakovljevic, Stanford University. This event is part of the Occasional Series, sponsored by the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.
Four years after the publication of Hans Prinzhorn’s landmark Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922), Russian psychiatrist P.I. Karpov published a book of (almost) the same title, studying psychotic art in Russia and Soviet Union. Completely overlooked in scholarship on outsider art, Karpov’s book offers an insight into attempts to understand art of the mentally ill in Soviet Union that ran parallel to Prinzhorn’s groundbreaking work. Karpov based his observations on a collection of outsider art he accumulated over the years of his psychiatric practice in Russian and Soviet hospitals. Karpov’s collection has been lost in the purges of the 1930s, and the only artifacts that survive are the works that he included in his book. This makes Tvorchestvo dushevnobol’nikh not only one of pioneering 20th century works on the artistry of the mentally ill, but also an enduring exhibition space of this kind of art produced in early Soviet Union.
Branislav Jakovljevic is a Professor and Department Chair. Avant-garde and Experimental Theater, Performance Theory, Performance and Politics, at Stanford University. He is the author of Alienation Effects: Performance and Self-Management in Yugoslavia 1945-1991 (University of Michigan Press 2016), winner of the 2017 ATHE Outstanding Book Award, and of the Joe A. Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama or Theater for 2016-17. His most recent book, Smrznuti magarac i drugi eseji (Frozen Donkey and Other Essays, 2017), was published in Serbian language in Belgrade.