Maxim Komar-Myshkin’s Vladimir’s Night is a hybrid of a children book, an exceedingly gory martyrdom and, perhaps, a twisted political treatise. Here, Vladimir (Putin, although the name is never mentioned), is both a little child and a political leader vacating in his summer mansion. Before falling asleep he is joined in bed by numerous animated objects. What begins as merry frolicking soon turns violent; Vladimir is molested, tortured and finally murdered by them.
Komar-Myshkin was the pseudonym of the fictive Russian poet Efim Poplavsky (1978-2011), who immigrated to Tel Aviv in the early 2000’s. Suffering from acute paranoia, Poplavsky believed that Putin had a personal vendetta against him, and that his assassination was pertinent. The album, an artistic revenge of sorts, was created in secrecy and discovered after Poplavsky committed suicide.
Vladimir’s Night continues both the tradition of Russian illustrated books and that of the albums created by Moscow’s unofficial artists of the 1970s, such as Kabakov and Pivovarov. It also contains a plethora of allusions and references, disclosing, perhaps, its author’s conspiratorial perception. The publication and exhibition of the work will thus be accompanied not only by an English translation of the poem, but by an expansive annotation that will also narrate Poplavsky’s short life.