Sujin Lee

The Sound of Moskva-Petushki
Artist book installation
Dimensions variable

The artist copied Moscow-Petushki, a Russian literary work by Benedict Erofeev, from beginning to end. Moscow-Petushki was one of the well-known works circulated as a samizdat during the Soviet era. Samizdat began as a self-publishing activity to deliver and disperse the truth which was censored by the state. However, as time went by, the format of production—whether a typewriter or carbon paper—and the materiality of the pages with printed letters became significant.

While able to read Russian (poorly) but with limited understanding, Lee transcribed the Russian text using a ballpoint pen and carbon paper. The result is an "original copy" written with a ballpoint pen and another "translation" process documented on the carbon paper. The newly created text-pages are bound as an accordion book and put on display. The text is no longer for reading to decipher the meaning of the words. The artist "physically translated" the text and re-represents it as a physical object and an accumulation of time. Moreover, the work reminds the audience of the body through its absence.

Two pieces of carbon paper were used in the copying process, so there are three copies: one ballpoint pen copy and two carbon copies. The ballpoint pen copy and one carbon copy became the accordion book, and the other carbon copy will be bound and sent to Artkommunalka (artist residency program in Kolomna, Russia where this project was conceived). Since the visitors at Artkommunalka can freely touch and interact with any of the objects in the museum, Lee's samizdat copy of Moscow-Petushki (also a "copy" of The Sound of Moskva-Petushki) will be worn out and age in the space and in time. On the other hand, the accordion book The Sound of Moskva-Petushki is presented as an "artwork" in the gallery.

Installation shots are from the exhibition Language Is Treacherous 언어는 배신하지 않는다 at Wumin Art Center, 2019. (The exhibition was sponsored by the Wumin Foundation.)
Photography by Seung Hyun Baek

© Sujin Lee