Modern Russian Urban Pseudo-Folk

Pavel Lion, Moscow State University

Cultural background of Modern Russian Urban Pseudo-Folk (MRUPF) is the situation “after postmodernism,” characterized by two contradictory intellectual moods. On the one hand, the fruits of postmodern criticism are still felt and any attempt to “think metaphysics” has been compromised. On the other hand, the common fatigue of postmodern uncertainty and the longing for some firm and definite discourse is an unquestionable intellectual reality. In MRUPF postmodern strategies and techniques (double coding, style games, intertextuality, parody, breaking taboos) render non-postmodern contents, such as the author’s search for cultural, political, national, gender and other aspects of identity.

Kiril Rešetnikov, a.k.a. Šiš Brjanskij, is a scholar, poet and musician from Moscow. Being still far from what Pierre Bourdieu calls “consecration phase,” he has been mentioned though in Russian literary criticism as a typical marginal figure balancing between rock poetry, “avtorskaja pesnja,” “chanson,” and folklore. In this perspective, Danila Davydov (“Rock and/or Chanson: Marginal Phenomena”) compares him with Alexej Xvostenko, Mixail Ščerbakov and Natal′ja Medvedeva. My paper is the first attempt to comment on his poetic world in terms of canon theory, intertextual criticism and poetic of expressiveness.

Šiš Brjanskij’s project resembles folklore both in terms of its musical and textual features and in terms of its cultural frames and contexts. He succeeds street performers of Early Modern Europe, or skomoroxi in Russia. Three essential non-folklore “subtexts” of Šiš Brjanskij’s poetic world, are (1) texts of Russian Modernity, (2) Russian “avtorskaja pesnja” and (3) Russian rock poetry, especially the so-called Siberian punk. Analyzing gradually Rešetnikov’s tendencies, preferences and novelties in each of these trends, I demonstrate contingency of traditional genre and style borders (rock, avtorskaja pesnja, “high” poetry, etc.). Another goal is to reconstruct the Russian version of the conflict between postmodern-oriented senior intellectual elite and anti-postmodern junior new avant-guard, and to draw attention to the figures capable to mediate this conflict.