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Marusya – Maria Nikiforova

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About the design

Maria ‘Marusya’ Nikiforova (1885-1919) was a Ukrainian revolutionary – and from the age of sixteen, a self-described terrorist – fighting for freedom under the violently oppressive Russian Empire. Often compared to Joan of Arc, Marusya rose from the slums to become a ferocious anarchist atamansha (military female leader) – and, like Joan, she was a fanatic who pursued her goals in a ferocious, ruthless fashion. 

Marusya fought for the freedom of the oppressed on three continents; seizing land, weapons and goods – and distributing wealth among the peasants; she organised the first Black Guards unit (armed groups of workers, who were the main strike force of the anarchists); stood trial for her life on four occasions; and was sentenced to death twice. Her exploits became folklore but she was virtually expunged from official Soviet histories and her story was lost for generations. 

There is no cult of Maria Nikiforova. There are no shelves of books devoted to her life – even writers sympathetic to anarchism have neglected Marusya, despite the the Black Guards serving as a model for Nestor Makhno’s revered Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (the ‘Black Army’); despite the important role she played in the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the subsequent civil war. 

“Anarchists only want people to be conscious of their own situation and seize freedom for themselves … rebel, rebel until all organs of power are eliminated.”—Marusya

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Lost Futures – Mechte Hauntology

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Drawing precarious warp-speed connexions between J. D. Bernal’s 1929 accelerationist treatise The World, the Flesh & the Devil; DD & Maria Nikiforovna Burliuk 1920’s neo-primitivist publications; Soviet cyberneticist Viktor Glushko’s ’60s blueprint for The All-State Automated System for the Gathering and Processing of Information for the Accounting, Planning and Governance of the National Economy – aka the ‘Soviet InterNyet’ or OGAS; ’60s Soviet Bloc sci-fi; Jaques Derrida’s rendezvous with a Spectral Marx and Mark Fisher’s reflection on Hauntological reanimations. 

The Former West flails onward without a map: trusting an auto-pilot with no GPS. In the apparent inescapability where all [creative] desires are eventually forced into the capitalist format, the slow cancellation of the future continues – while flashes of our former carbon selves reappear on illuminated glass; temporarily vibrate as rearticulated sine waves; and are virtually ingested via pseudo-structuralist glyphs with no discernible meaning.

Mechte Navstrechu (Dream Towards) our collective Lost Futures.

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Situationist 4’33” – Ivan Silenzio

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A psychic collaboration of ravaged memories beginning with Guy Debord’s ‘On Chance’ (1952) – geometric forms are strewn across the plane, disrupted by inarticulate gestures. This, bringing to mind John Cage’s lecture ‘Indeterminacy’ (1958) – and a recollected admiration [that cover!] of Sounds Like Silence: John Cage - 4’33” – Silence Today (Spector Books, 2018, ISBN: 978-3-94006-441-7) mutated via Il Grande Silenzio (1968), Sergio Corbucci’s revisionist Spaghetti Western inspired by the deaths of Che Guevara and Malcolm X – starring Klaus Kinski, with a score by Ennio Morricone (a serendipitous dusty video store find, moons ago). Tonight, an arctic night walk during lockdown in the aural company of Jean-Marie Apostolidès, discussing his book, Ivan Chtcheglov: Profil Perdu (Allia, 2006, ISBN 978-2-84485-215-1). Chtcheglov wrote Formulaire Pour un Urbanisme Nouveau/Formulary for a New Urbanism (1953) at age nineteen, under the name Gilles Ivain, providing a key inspiration to Debord, the Lettrist International and the Situationist International. Chtcheglov’s text also inspired the naming of Manchester’s infamous nightclub, the Haçienda (1982–97):

“And you, forgotten, your memories ravaged by all the consternations of two hemispheres, stranded in the Red Cellars of Pali-Kao, without music and without geography, no longer setting out for the hacienda where the roots think of the child and where the wine is finished off with fables from an old almanac. That’s all over. You’ll never see the hacienda. It doesn’t exist.

The hacienda must be built.”

Lastly, at a time when so many of are out of work (2020), we recall Debord’s painted slogan on a wall on the Rue de Seine, ‘Ne travaillez jamais,’ ‘Never Work.’ The three words contain an entire program: inciting the dismantling of whatever is left of the mythology surrounding the worker embedded in ourselves. Shall we race back to ‘normal’ when all is said and done, or shall we find neue ways of life—détournement?

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