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This report is taken from PN Review 178, Volume 34 Number 2, November - December 2007.

Dmitri Aleksandrovich Prigov 1940-2007 Daniel Weissbort

Moscow: Dmitri Prigov, one of the most influential poets of the post-Soviet era, died early Monday in a Moscow hospital, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported. He was 66. He and his close friend Lev Rubenstein were leaders of the so-called conceptualist school, which arose in unofficial Soviet art in the late 1960s. They were the first in Russia to see performance as a form of art. Prigov was [...] better known in the West for his live performances, which incorporated visual and musical elements. [...] [He] was planning [...] to participate in a performance where he would sit in a wardrobe as it was hauled up the 22 flights of stairs of Moscow State University, reading poems all the way to the top. (Moscow Times)

My mind goes back to an occasion in London, where Prigov had a second home, queuing for some reason outside the Royal Opera House. I asked Dima what he thought of Nikolai Zabolotsky, a major Russian poet, at one time associated with the absurdist Oberiu group. Prigov admired Zabolotsky and it seems to me that, among many other things - e.g. a conceptualist artist - he was a kind of left-over oberiu, an absurdist in an absurd age which however, took itself so seriously that, catastrophically, it no longer had time for absurdism. Prigov was among those who tried to puncture the Soviet system by making fun of it, solemnity being the ...

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