Follow the Fellow #2

Monthly notes from Les Vynogradov

15. April 2024 | Les Vynogradov

Nachthimmel über Berlin
©Les Vynogradov

In this series, inm fellow Les Vynogradov from Kyiv shares sonic, spatial, and existential explorations of Berlin. 

Spring is imminent. Here in Berlin, much like in Kyiv, it feels like a done deal as early as March. That’s a big change after Chicago: over there spring doesn’t seem to exist at all. It’s winter, winter, winter, and then sometime in May—bam!—it’s suddenly summer. Feels good to be back in vernal latitudes!

My first Berlin spring began with MaerzMusik –  namely, the Meet&Greet opening mixer co-organized by INM. I enjoyed meeting new people and having a good chat, but I enjoyed being gently choreographed by the organizers more. Take a seat here, switch to another table in 30 minutes… Fun! Someone told me it was a perfectly German thing to do since people wouldn’t know how to mingle otherwise. I concluded that in leisure as in work, Ordnung muss sein. And I think it’s beautiful.      

One of the conversations we had was about suffering as a prerequisite of good art. My interlocutor pointed out that evolutionally, we’ve always been driven by challenges, and our ability to adapt is what made us human. Fair enough, thought I, and yet something about the starving artist cliché just doesn’t sit right with me. Did Messiaen suffer to write »L'Ascension« while cruising between Paris, Neuchâtel, and Monaco? Or so many other talented artists who didn’t exactly struggle? But more importantly, do we want our contemporaries to suffer for art’s sake, normalizing artists’ precarity?

As a cultural manager from Ukraine, I have a rather straightforward view of this. As we are wrapping up KCMD’s program Instrumental providing instruments to Ukrainian musicians in need, I am thinking about some of the applications. Cruel though it may sound, we had to ask the applicants how the Russian full-scale invasion directly affected their lives. Among a myriad of stories about burnt-down apartments, forced relocation, captivity, life under occupation, and – naturally –  destroyed instruments, one answer stuck in my mind for some reason: »Thank God, [I was] only morally [affected].«

I am strictly anti-suffering. I don’t think it should ever be normalized, no matter the purpose. And if we can make each other’s life just a little sweeter –  even for fear of our art becoming desperately mediocre – I’ll take that bet.   

But hey, this blog is getting long! And I promised you a gift from Ukraine in every issue – so here you go:

Alla Zagaykevych is a pioneering figure in the Ukrainian electroacoustic scene, active since the 1990s not only as a prolific composer but also as a professor and festival organizer. A truly influential figure. Check out her Guy Debord-dedicated »Contre S.« for Kontra-Trio (fun fact: KCMD brought them to Kyiv for a master class in 2017) and then come back for more at our page about her.

Contre S. (dédié à Guy Debord) for Kontra-Trio

Alla Zagaykevych · Alla Zagaykevych, Contre S. (dédié à Guy Debord) for Kontra-Trio

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

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