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Creativity, dialogue, and place: Vitebsk, the early Bakhtin and the origins of the Russian avant-garde

This paper attempts to avoid both the ‘Bakhtinology’ that has become the basis of the ‘Bakhtin industry’ in Russia and the Americanization of his work as a “a sort of New Left celebrator of popular culture” (McLemee, 1997) to argue for a radical contextual understanding a set of relationships among Bakhtin, Malevich, Chagall and others. The appreciation of a Bakhtinian notion of the inherently creative use of language is used as a basis for the idea of the creative university as the ‘dialogical university’. The paper begins by exploring the connections between Bakhtin, Malevich and Chagall to explore the ontological sociality of artistic phenomena. A small town called Vitebsk in Belorussia experienced a flowering of creativity and artistic energy that led to significant modernist experimentation in the years 1917-1922 contribution to the birth of the Russian avant-garde. Marc Chagall, returning from the October Revolution took up the position of art commissioner and developed an academy of art that became the laboratory for Russian modernism. Chagall’s Academy, Bahktin’s Circle, Malevich’s experiments, artistic group UNOVIS, all in fierce dialogue with one another made the town of Vitebsk into an artistic crucible in the early twentieth century transforming creative energies of Russian drama, music, theatre, art, and philosophy in a distinctive contribution to modernism and also to a social understanding of creativity itself.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
White, E. J., & Peters, M. A. (2014). Creativity, dialogue, and place: Vitebsk, the early Bakhtin and the origins of the Russian avant-garde. Presented at the The 4th International Interdisciplinary Conference on Perspectives and Limits of Dialogism in Mikhail Bakhtin, Conference held at Hamilton, New Zealand.
This is the Authors' accepted version. Copyright 2014 The Authors.