Follow the Fellow #1

Monthly notes from Les Vynogradov

15. März 2024 | Les Vynogradov

A portrait of inm felllow Les Vynogradov
©Lisa Korneichuk

Hi! I’m Les Vynogradov and this is »Follow the Fellow«.

I am INM’s new fellow (Weltoffenes Berlin, danke schön!) and in this series, I invite you to follow me in my sonic, spatial, and existential explorations of Berlin. I promise to be brief, not bore you to death, and to bring you a little gift from Ukraine in each episode!

So, who’s this Fellow guy? I’ve spent the first 32 years of my life in Kyiv studying French literature (being a Georges Perec fanboy, to be more precise), playing in doom metal and post-rock bands, and managing contemporary art projects. I helped IZOLYATSIA build a new community in Kyiv after Russians turned its huge post-industrial art center in Donetsk into a prison in 2014. I was the Head of Visual Art at the Ukrainian Institute, a state organization promoting Ukrainian culture internationally. For me, art and culture have had much more to do with real, palpable social and political change than ivory towers.

In 2021, I moved to Chicago with my wife who studied there and that’s where we met the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ironically, it was also on the shores of Lake Michigan, 5,000 miles from home, that I joined Kyiv Contemporary Music Days (KCMD), a concert and educational platform for new music I’ve been working with to this day. Without KCMD, I wouldn’t have known the beautiful people of INM/field notes, and without INM, I wouldn’t be here today. Mysterious are the ways of Neue Musik!

And that is how after Chicago, Illinois I ended up in Berlin, which Mark Twain affectionately called the »Chicago of Europe.« And that’s where we are now.

I promised you a gift from Ukraine. Last week, KCMD, with the support of INM, brought one of Ukraine’s most talented violinists, Orest Smovzh, to play a very special show… at a bar in Kreuzberg. »Condensed Music« was a mosaic of over 80 pieces and improvisations from 4 to 110 seconds long, hand-picked and carefully assembled by Orest. With stuff from Peter Ablinger to John Zorn while also featuring works by obscure and non-professional composers, it was »a bit punk a bit crazy a bit contemplative a bit inebriated a bit nostalgic for unseen Berlin,« to quote Orest himself. Below are a few snippets of that madness for you to get the taste.

Don’t miss Orest’s next concert when he’s in town. And I will keep you in the loop of the upcoming KCMD events and share my other curious findings in the next episodes.

That’s all for now!

»Follow the Fellow« – ermöglicht im Rahmen des Stipendienprogramms »Weltoffenes Berlin« von der Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt.

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Blossoming rhododendrons on a lake

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