Eugene Ostashevsky
Artist’s Statement

The Russian conceptualist poet, performance and visual artist Dmitry Prigov died last night in Moscow. Prigov has been in a coma after suffering a massive heart attack on July 6.

Born in 1940, Prigov was one of the two poles of Russian poetry of his generation, the other being his cultural antipode Joseph Brodsky, born the same year. As a twentieth-century avant-gardist, Prigov was a figure on the level of Kurt Schwitters, with similar inventiveness, humor, interdisciplinarity, astonishing performance skills and the ability to find beauty and truth in garbage.

Prigov became a major fixture in the Moscow art underground in the 1970s, and is recognized under the ironic title of “The Father of Moscow Conceptualism.” A faint taste of his performance style might be had here, where he recites the first lines of Eugene Onegin. Although not a dissident, Prigov managed to get himself interned in a psychiatric institution for handing out his poems to passersby on the street in 1986. His first book to be published in Russia came out in 1990; it was followed by international fame and numerous awards.

I had the good luck to work with him in Italy in 1998. He was a kind, funny, engaging person and will be greatly missed.