A Socratic Dialogue

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Change or Decay: Russia’s Dilemma and the West's Response. By: Lilia Shevtsova and Andrew Wood. Publisher: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, 2011.

 

This review originally appeared in New Eastern Europe Issue 2/2012.

 

 

Lilia Shevtsova and Andrew Wood are no strangers to the community of Russia watchers. Shevtsova, a Russian national currently with the Carnegie Moscow Centre, has been a keen and engaged observer of Russia’s domestic politics and her country’s foreign relations for more than two decades. Andrew Wood was first posted to the Soviet Union as a diplomat in 1964 and served five years as Her Majesty's Ambassador to Russia (1995-2000). Both are prolific writers: Lilia Shevtsova has written a number of books about leaders and trends which have shaped the last two decades of Russia's history – some of these publications, such as Yeltsin's Russia or Putin's Russia, have already become classics. Andrew Wood's policy papers on Russia's domestic and foreign policy, written in his capacity as an associate fellow of Chatham House, belong to the core output of this think tank’s Russia and Eurasia programme.

The authors have known each other for some time and have now joined forces to produce Change or Decay: Russia's Dilemma and the West's Response. A book-length dialogue on how Russia emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union and the implications for the country itself as well as the rest of the world, is as solid as any of the authors’ individual work. Change or Decay is not just the title of their book; as both authors show in their candid and sometimes sparking conversation, this is also the fundamental choice Russia has been faced with for the past twenty years. Shevtsova and Wood agree that successive leaders from Mikhail Gorbachev to Vladimir Putin to Dmitry Medvedev have contributed much more towards the latter than the former. Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia continues to lose tens of billions of dollars in capital flight (more than $80 billion in 2011) and is regularly called “not-free” in international democracy indexes such as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World. Between 2005 and 2010, 41 journalists have been killed and 344 injured. Without major reform, they argue (and this reviewer agrees), Russia’s decay will continue.

It was Socrates who famously introduced the dialectic method of inquiry, breaking down the problem into a series of questions not only to draw individual answers but also to distil fundamental insight into the discussed issues. Some may find the dialogue-style of the book difficult to follow, especially in the beginning. But what better way is there to explore Russia’s multiple contradictions and plurality of views and interpretations of its history? The book tells the story of Russia spanning more than two decades, from the collapse of the Soviet Union to a discussion of who would sit in the Kremlin after the March 2012 elections. The dialogue between Shevtsova and Wood goes beyond a mere description of historical events – their conversation is also about unfulfilled hopes and what remains twenty years after Russia's re-emergence onto the world map. Russians first pinned their hopes on Boris Yeltsin, who turned out to be weaker than some would have thought and less democratic than many would have liked him to be. After all, as Shevtsova points out, it was Yeltsin who laid the foundations of today’s system of centralised and personalised power. Putin managed to persuade many of his co-patriots as well as a large portion of the western audience that he is a real economic reformer and that progress was possible even if it came at the cost of the concentration of power, deepening of the country’s dependence on energy resources, and tightening of the political screws. Not long ago, then-President Medvedev, hand-picked by Putin, produced a pressing call for modernisation which led many to believe that the regime's determination to modernise was real. Yet most of the hopes these leaders inspired remain unfulfilled to this day.

The question of whether things could have gone differently reappears throughout the book: what options did the Russian elite have and did they choose the best ones? What influence did the West have on the developments in Russia and was this influence used wisely? Could and should western leaders have acted differently and could they have done more to help steer Russia towards a different, possibly more democratic course? These questions, and the answers offered by the two authors, are far from being purely theoretical “what if?” questions. With thousands of people gathering on the streets of Moscow to demand free and fair elections, the West again faces the question today of how to (re)engage Russia and its society rather than with just those who sit in the Kremlin.

Lilia Shevtsova and Andrew Wood go to great length to undo stereotypes about Russia’s history and answer some of these questions hoping that lessons can be learned and mistakes be avoided in the future. The book makes interesting reading for a number of reasons but it is worth mentioning at least two. Firstly, for anyone interested in where Russia stands today, Shevtsova and Wood’s discussion about the evolution of Russia’s political regime over the past twenty years is a very useful guide: it engagingly explains where the challenges to the current political system come from and why they are unlikely to go away unless the system itself changes. Imitation of democracy may have brought Russia more legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens and the West. Yet as the authors rightly argue, by choosing the “easy” options – i.e. faking democracy rather than exposing themselves to be challenged by their political opponents in free and fair elections or relying on natural resources rather than diversifying Russia’s economy – Russia’s political leaders have built a system which is unsustainable. “When the shell is empty, it stays empty,” Shevtsova says about Medvedev, although this also applies to the Russian political system in general.

Secondly, the book asks a number of essential questions about western policy towards Russia; questions which many in the West would prefer to ignore. The authors state their case very clearly: while they place the responsibility for Russia’s historical path fully on the shoulders of the Russian political class and the country’s intellectuals, they argue that the West should not stand aside and watch. The Russian ruling elite “depends to a degree on the placatory positions of western politicians and experts in order to sustain the current system”.

However, it is precisely in the parts of the dialogue on the West’s approach to Russia where some readers’ expectations may remain half-fulfilled. While both authors are very persuasive when they describe western policy towards Russia, including its (many) shortcomings, they offer much smaller doses of a prescription for what the West should do to aid Russia’s democratic transformation. Short-term pragmatism or a purely interest-based approach is not going to work. Shevtsova and Wood argue that the West's strategic agenda towards Russia must also embrace values. They also propose that conditionality becomes an equally integral part of western relations with Moscow and argue that a piecemeal approach, i.e. focusing on concrete possibilities such as Russia’s entry into the OECD rather than on grand designs, would serve the objective of Russia’s democratic transformation better than hard-core realism or idealism. Although few would disagree with these recommendations, others (including this reviewer) might point out that this more hard-nosed, piecemeal approach has already become a more or less established part of many European Union countries’ policy towards Russia, including those such as Poland or Germany.

The authors seem to have somehow naturally divided the roles they play in this Socratic dialogue. Shevtsova is one of the best incarnations of Russia’s liberal thinking and her sharp and pressing analysis excels in debunking the realities of today's Russia and its relations with the West. She asks tough questions about the failures of the EU's “let's pretend” policy towards Moscow and questions the contribution of the US reset policy to the improvement of the political situation in Russia (or lack of thereof). Skilled in both diplomacy and business, Andrew Wood brings a pragmatic and nuanced view which adds flavour to the debate. The outcome is a synergy that deserves to be read by all those hungry for knowledge about where today’s Russia comes from and what path it may embark on in the future.

 

Jana Kobzova is a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and the coordinator of its Wider Europe programme.

 

 

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The Northern Path

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A Review of Lotem gęsi (Following the Path of Geese) by Mariusz Wilk. This review originally appeared in New Eastern Europe 3(IV)/2012.

 

Mariusz Wilk, Polish writer and wanderer, does not write his diaries like others do. Wilk has a different intellectual perspective in writing: for him what matters is space and place, and to follow Wilk, the reader needs to take his path. In his travels Wilk does not just follow a specific route. Neither does he chase excitement. He wanders. And he’s been wandering for years, with his thoughts and mind. This style of travel is also reflected in his latest diary, Lotem gęsi, which has recently been published in Polish.

Wilk has friended the north and has been living there for the last 20 years. He has traded his life as an oppositionist, co-author of Konspira (a book published in 1984 in Paris which became prime reading for the Polish communist opposition movement) and journalist, for the life of a writer/wanderer. During the 1990s, Wilk decided to abandon his urban life and moved to the Solovki Islands, where his book, The Journals of a White Sea Wolf, was written. Years later, this wanderer of the north, as he calls himself, moved to Lake Onega where he started writing his diary, and where subsequent parts of his diary were written: Dom nad Oniego (House on the Onego) (2006), Tropami rena (Following the Reindeer) (2007) i Lotem gęsi (Following the Path of the Geese) (2012). Wilk’s books have been translated into many languages, including English, German and French.

Lotem gęsi comprises three stages of a story. It starts in Petrozavodsk, the capital city of the Republic of Karelia, and at some point moves to Canada and follows the path of Kenneth White’s novels (a Scottish poet and writer – editor’s note), ending up back in Konda Bierezna, a place described in his Dziennik północny.

We travel through Petrozavodsk following the steps of his research notes, the traces of city tours, and Wilk’s own walks. In the capital of the Republic of Karelia, Wilk seeks the traces of Charles Longseville, an engineer with the French artillery who, during Napoleon’s march towards Russia was captured and imprisoned by the Cossacks. In Petrozavodsk, Longseville builds canons and becomes the model of a hero. The story of this man, which, in fact, sits somewhere between reality and fiction, involves nobody else but Maxim Gorky (an early Soviet writer credited with promoting the idea of Socialist Realism – editor’s note). The investigation, which is almost criminal, provides a surprising solution, which cannot be revealed in this review. Nevertheless, this is just one of such stories. The book includes many more.    

The next stage of the diary brings the reader to Canada. Wilk takes us there to follow the path of La Route Bleu, a novel written by Kenneth White about a journey to Labrador (in the far north of Canada). Wilk makes his travel from Karelia to Canada to confront White’s geopoetics, and to personally witness the place, which a few decades before him, the Scottish writer explored to find space and, as he writes, “to make [his] way out of the Jehovian occupation of the world”. Wilk’s tribal sense of connection with White takes him into the unknown. However, this path brings him more disappointments than enjoyment. 

Page after page, we travel 6,000 kilometres by car and 2,000 by boat. When experimenting with La Route Bleu, Wilk clearly and consciously cannot keep up with his pen and constantly makes quick notes. Short, touristic “glimpses”. But he does not find comfort in such travels. In following White’s footsteps, Wilk, is in fact, searching for the history of the places he has visited. This is not an easy task for somebody who is not attracted to the reality cut out of a guide book. Hasty travels do not allow much more than a post-card type reflection, and modern tourism takes over old-fashioned travel. Only in literary terms does Wilk not lose his breath.

However, this dream journey does not seem to give him as much joy as he initially thought it would. Surrounded by empty lakes and empty scenes of other tourists, Wilk tries to compare his own experiences with what White described in his book. At each step, however, he returns unconsciously to his own northern experiences with his pen and his thoughts. We learn that his own experiences are dearer to his heart than the foreign land of Labrador. On his path of whales, unable to avoid the literary association with Herman Melville, he comes to the rather grim conclusion that Canadian restaurants don’t serve fresh fish.

In Konda Bierezna, Wilk returns to the voice which the reader can easily recognise from his other works, such as Dom nad Oniego. After this point, his clear writing returns – a mix of irregular, but witty rhythm, which is so characteristic of Wilk’s style. The wanderer, clearly, feels most at home when he is in his Konda Bierezna, not only physically but also in literary terms. Konda is the ghost village of the north where in the winter nobody even ventures to deliver mail. Here, one can sit, read, and reflect, or simply work. Emigration and correspondence with the outside world from a place which is hard to find on a map take on a new meaning. But this Russian settlement also gives him an impulse to tear away all labels of being a Pole, a Catholic, and many others. To lose them, Wilk encounters the “other”, his nomadic spiritual journey. He does not want to be a tourist-writer. In Konda Bierezna he tries to devour the reality and pay attention to every detail. Going deep to record the truth of a given place, don’t we get, in fact, deeper into ourselves and find our own truth? Perhaps yes, but by writing about such small fragments of reality, Wilk provides his reader with a paradoxically large part of Russia. This is not bait for readers who are fans of reports, like those of another Polish writer and reporter, Jacek Hugo-Bader, but rather an inspirational offer for those who spend their lives wandering.

Wilk writes his diaries by catching “traces”. However, each new experience on his path can change these traces. Wilk doesn't seek individual experiences which can be caught in a hasty manner, such as tourist attractions and an idolatrous admiration of the countryside. Looking deep into Russia, Wilk looks deep into his own soul. If he traces history, it is based on a solid literary foundation. And to document it, he only needs words, not photography. There is also a new trace in his life: his young daughter. Her arrival, as Wilk himself admits, has changed his life entirely. If it wasn’t for her, the book would probably not include a reflection on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. She becomes a new direction in her father’s nomadism.

Lotem gęsi isn't a hasty piece of prose. Its story is similar to the people who want to visit Wilk in his northern house: many promise to come, but few ever make it. Others who come to visit can't tolerate the silence. The select few who do reach it have a powerful conversation – in silence.

 

Lotem gęsi. By Mariusz Wilk. Publisher: Noir Sur Blanc, Warsaw, 2012.

 

Łukasz Wojtusik is a Polish journalist and radio reporter. He is the head of the Krakow office of the radio program TOK FM.

 

Translated by Iwona Reichardt

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Behind the Scenes - Belarus Free Theatre

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Evening. A leafy Oxford suburb in early summer. I take my place in the theatre amid academics and indefinite Russophiles, knowing that as soon as the lights dim, I will be transported far away. This is Minsk 2011, performed by the legendary Belarus Free Theatre.

 

The Theatre was founded in 2005 by husband and wife Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada. In Minsk, they performed in private apartments until they moved into exile abroad. Tonight’s play is Minsk 2011: A Reply to Kathy Acker” (watch the trailer and an interview with Natalia Kaliada).

Acker was an American punk writer who linked New York society to its sexual identity; and this is a Belarusian reply. Dressed in khaki plainclothes, florid housekeeper jackets and lacy black lingerie; the actors rap, shout and whisper. One character pulls back his clothes to show off his numerous scars one by one. Each has its own story, whether innocent or brutal.  He explains: “Scars adorn a man. Many girls find it sexy. In this respect, Minsk is a beautiful and very sexy city. Welcome to Minsk! The sexiest city in the world!”

The play is a series of scenes with no definite characters or plot. After sundown, a workers’ stalovaya (cafeteria) is converted into a nightclub. A young, interchangeable Katya arrives from the provinces to begin her studies and slowly slips into the underworld. There are snapshots of the year 2011 – familiar to anyone who followed the headlines – from the presidential elections of December 2010, rigged in favour of Alexander Lukashenka, to the “silent protests” that lulled the capital last summer. As if in slow motion, we revisit the explosions that hit the Minsk metro in April 2011. A survivor smells “sugar and blood” as she trips over the dead bodies. They had only gone out to buy food products, before prices rose even further.

“Belarus is not sexy,” says Natalia Kaliada’s character towards the end. “The sexiness of a country is its oil, gas, diamonds, and access to sea and mountains. Belarus is the only country in Europe where there is no sea and no mountains. Belarus is flat. ... For the world to notice us, we have to take – our – clothes – off!”

And she does. The play reaches its climax, with the cast singing a plaintive Belarusian folk song in the background. But even in this faceless urban landscape there is a human touch. The cast sits on a make-shift river bank overlooking Minsk, dangling their feet in the cool water. One by one, each character (or perhaps each actor?) shares a simple memory or wish linked to Minsk. To return to his own four walls, to see her baby again, to restore a sense of normality. In this city they have so little but, at the same time, everything.

It was an entertaining evening. Those in the audience who survived the swearing and an hour of squinting at the English surtitles (the performance was in Russian) certainly learnt something about Belarus. The actors spent a lot of energy; a special mention goes to the four women actors, whose roles were particularly demanding. The play picked up speed and went beyond being merely provocative, to touch on serious themes. It illustrates the repression of minorities – sexual minorities, but not only – by the authoritarian regime (in 2010, Minsk police broke up a Gay Pride march after only 15 minutes). 

Beyond the nightlife and the glitter, the play says something valuable about Belarus. It shatters the stereotype, popular in the western media, of Belarusian society as a grey, neo-Soviet lump. What is left is not the overused concept of “civil society”, organised and democratic. Rather, it is a kaleidoscope of young people with their own identities, anxieties and dreams – just like in any other country. The Belarus Free Theatre’s style may not be to everyone’s liking. But, watching it perform on stage, you may catch a glimpse of Belarus behind the scenes.

 

Annabelle Chapman is a postgraduate student in Russian and East European Studies at Oxford University.

 

Watch the Belarus Free Theatre perform Shakespeare’s King Lear here, at the 2012 Globe to Globe festival in London (in Belarusian with English subtitles).

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Still Looking at the Stars

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Europe: An Unfinished Project
Edited by: Michał Bardel and Grzegorz Jankowicz
Published by: Fundacja Tygodnika Powszechnego
Kraków 2011

 

You are sitting outside in the Central European sunshine. Over black coffee, your erudite companion – a writer, a historian, perhaps – is sharing his thoughts. Around you, crisis: rising unemployment statistics, endless political negotiations, a lack of purpose. But you relax for a moment and listen to what he has to say.

 

This is the tone of Europe: An Unfinished Project, which brings together contributions from nine European intellectuals. In the form of loose interviews, they explore the concrete challenges facing European states today, as well as more "existential" questions about the nature of Europe.

The selection of authors is definitively Central European. The introduction by Zygmunt Bauman, the eminent Polish sociologist, considers Europe’s search for a “mission” and how its diversity is an asset, rather than an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Timothy Garton Ash, who famously reported the 1989 revolutions, adds his historian’s insights to this theme of diversity, while also noting that “we have no theatre in European politics” (this metaphor recurs in his obituary of his friend Václav Havel). In the next chapter, Austrian writer Martin Pollack travels into the dark corners of Galicia, full of myths and abandoned objects. Rucco Buttiglione, an Italian politician, is concerned about Europe’s secularisation, which he links to its decline (this is the only explicitly Christian chapter).

György Spiró, a Hungarian writer, calls for a reassessment of capitalism from a social (and not merely economic) angle, and points out the continued value of Europe’s mystical tradition. Young Swiss writer Lukas Bärfus looks farther afield, at Europe’s failed efforts to project itself overseas, in Rwanda. Croatian writer Dubravka Ugrešić links the ancient myth of Europa – who was abducted by the Greek god Zeus – to the situation of women today, adding a feminist perspective to the volume. Hans Rosling, a Swedish medical doctor, looks at European society through the demographer’s pessimistic lens. Finally, Hans-Gert Pöttering, who was President of the European Parliament in 2007-2009, recasts the crisis as an opportunity for Europe.

Turning to the title, “unfinished” initially conjures up negative associations. Politically, the EU remains far from the nation-state paradigm that has haunted it since the 1950s. Recent parallels to the expiring USSR have filled some with horror and others with glee. But this sensationalism is unhelpful. History (not least that of the European project) is punctuated by crises. Spiró even suggests that “crisis” is an integral part of European thought – picture the angst-ridden Viennese Kaffeehaus. In the conclusion, Polish literary critic Tadeusz Sławek argues that, paradoxically, today’s crisis stems from “the conviction that ‘Europe’ is a finished and ready project”. Turning the problem on its head, he makes “unfinished” a positive adjective, overflowing with potential.

References to Eastern Europe are threaded throughout the volume (this owes a lot to the Polish editors). The EU’s geography has an “unfinished” element too, with the ambiguities surrounding its future limits. The new eastern border has generated not only practical challenges, but also patterns of inclusion and exclusion (for example, Russia as Europe’s “Other”). Each chapter somehow links the region to the book’s wider themes. What is missing is a contribution from beyond the EU’s eastern border, such as Ukrainian scholar Mykola Ryabchuk or outspoken writer Yuriy Andrukhovych.

This slim volume is a valuable addition to the ongoing conversation about “Europe”, rekindled by the economic (and some would say ontological) crisis. The liberal Catholic stance of its publisher, Polish weekly Tygodnik Powszechny, merely gives the volume a philosophical edge. Refreshingly, the authors are aware of the EU’s flaws, and even of their own somewhat Eurocentric perspective. But each of them is eager to contribute to the debate, and to open it up to readers. As Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

 

Annabelle Chapman is a postgraduate student in Russian and East European Studies at Oxford University.

Loneliness in Prague

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Loneliness
Art Exhibiton by Samuel Havadtoy  
Through April 10, 2012
Stará Čistírna
Papírenská 6, 
Prague 6, Czech Republic
www.staracistirna.cz

 

 

 

Putting sculptures of Lenin and Pinocchio in a wastewater treatment plant seems a bit eccentric, but a new exhibition in Prague by Hungarian artist Sam Havadtoy is an ingenious mix of whimsy and industry.

“The idea was very site specific,” Mr. Havadtoy said. “Look at the three Lenin’s, stuck between sewer pipes and with chains hanging around; it’s perfect.”

Prague’s Stará Čistírna’s museum is indeed a former wastewater treatment plant; located in a protected industrial building from the early 1900s. Visitors can wander the dark rooms and winding passageways, checking out the steam engines and other original machinery. Now this cavernous building is considerably brightened by Mr. Havadtoy’s paintings and sculptures.

“When I came here, I decided to do the ducks,” he said. “Especially because it is an event for children.”

How a Hungarian artist came to have an exhibition in Prague is a roundabout tale. As Havadtoy tells it, a couple of years ago the executive director of the Sunbeam charity asked him to donate a piece of artwork for their fundraising auction. Sunbeam assists children with cancer. Havadtoy was sceptical, “No one knows me here, who will want to buy it?” So instead, he donated a John Lennon lithograph that he says fetched 8 - 10,000 euros. Sunbeam’s director, Pavel Boček, this year got the idea to have an exhibition of Mr. Havadtoy’s work to kick off the agency’s auction.

“Then, he tells me (Mr. Boček) people will know who you are!” Havadtoy added.

The exhibition, entitled Loneliness, is scattered throughout the museum.  In the building’s main room is a huge cheerful looking duck, the walls are lined with his college prints of mini-ducks. Downstairs, you can find 60 of these colourful creatures bobbing on pedestals, spotlighted and scattered around the mechanical works of the factory. Mr. Havadtoy’s original idea was to float the ducks in the pool of water that is here.

“I originally wanted the ducks in the water, and to have them lit, but there are blind fish in the water and the light would have killed them,” he said. “Like all great ideas, everything was planned out on paper, but things never turn out like you had planned. But whatever you end up doing is usually better than you had planned. It’s not saving the world – it’s art.” Mr. Havadtoy’s gigantic version of the duck was originally supposed to be placed on Wenceslas Square, but the city was afraid it would be destroyed. Now it lords over the main room, looking smug, but happy.

Mr. Havadtoy uses lace in all his work and the material gives his sculptures on display here a rich texture that appears even in the prints. After creating the mini ducks, he photographed and layered them, printing them so they look like a collage. This texture is intense in the prints as well, making each duck come alive and subtly standout from its neighbour.

 

Sam Hadvadtoy - Lenin (speak no evil) Photo: Stara Cistirna                                       Sam Havadtoy: Pinnochio Photo: Stara Cistirna

Sam Havadtoy: Lenin (Speak No Evil)                                          Sam Havadtdoy: Pinocchio 
Photo: Stara Cistirna                                                                    Photo: Stara Cistirna 

Mr. Havadtoy is an English born artist of Hungarian origin who lived and worked in the vibrant New York art scene of the 1970s and 80s. Connecting with a host of well-known names there like John Lennon, Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and Keith Haring; Mr. Havadtoy lived with Yoko Ono following her breakup with Lennon. His work reflects the pop-art from his time in New York, combined with the sensitivity of someone intimately familiar with eastern European life. Opening the Sam Havadtoy Gallery and Interior Design Studio in New York, Mr. Havadtoy was deeply involved in design, something he has put behind him a bit.

“I’m getting older, design is so interactive, very personal, but in the studio I lock myself in, put in my favourite music and I’m happy,” he said, adding that he can see evolvement in his work.

“I’ve also started to paint with dots, normally I cover my problems with paint, but with dots it’s like a mantra,” he said. “The ducks are lace, then paint, then dots and I see that my dots are no longer sad. In other works the dots are very sombre, but I have come out of whatever was in the past and I am in a very happy-go-lucky situation.”

For about 10 years now, Mr. Havadtoy has been starting his work by writing his problems, complaints or other concerns on the canvas, painting over it, then covering it with lace and starting his piece. The method comes from hypnotherapy sessions Mr. Havadtoy participated in following his breakup with Yoko Ono. The sessions were recorded, and afterward he was encouraged to write out, by hand, what he said while under hypnosis.

A typical lace duck by Sam Havadtoy. Photo: Stara Cistirna

 

“The story itself is for me a way to work through my grips, self-pity, but I’m having so much fun with it, processing certain angst about oneself,” he said. “I’ve been doing this more than 10 years and I’ll continue, sometimes it’s funny stuff, I’m not always complaining.”

There are two other exhibitions of Mr. Havadtoy’s work this year, one in Milan and one in Romania. The exhibition in Milan is in a sleek, gallery space, while in Romania his work will be displayed in a Transylvanian castle, complete with mouldings and gilding. A Pinocchio will appear in both locations, while the three Lenin’s (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil) will only be in Milan.

“These are totally different spaces to fill, so the designer in me is very happy, I’m still decorating,” he said. 

As for his Prague exhibition, Mr. Havadtoy deems it a success.

“For me, I achieved what I wanted to do as a dialogue with the space; it’s nice in the space and I’m happy.”

 

Jacy Meyer is a freelance journalist living in Prague. She has contributed to a number of international and local publications, including The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and many others.

 

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