Painters and poets-including Natalia Goncharova, Velimir Khlebnikov, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich, and Vladimir Mayakovsky-collaborated to fabricate hand-lithographed books, for which they invented a new language called zaum (a neologism meaning "beyond the mind"), which was distinctive in its emphasis on "sound as such" and its rejection of definite logical meaning.
At the heart of this volume are close analyses of two of the most significant and experimental futurist books: Mirskontsa (Worldbackwards) and Vzorval' (Explodity). In addition, Nancy Perloff examines the profound differences between the Russian avant-garde and Western art movements, including futurism, and she uncovers a wide-ranging legacy in the mid-century global movement of sound and concrete poetry (the Brazilian Noigandres group, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and Henri Chopin), contemporary Western conceptual art, and the artist's book.
Upon publication, sound recordings of zaum poems featured in the book will be made available at www.getty.edu.
Nancy Perloff is curator of modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute. She is coeditor, with Brian M. Reed, of Situating El Lissitzky: Vitebsk, Berlin, Moscow (Getty Publications, 2003).