Six simple facts about Necrorealism

AVANT-GARDE

Originated in the 1980s, Necrorealism was the first Soviet cinematic avant-garde since the 1920s. The name of the new Eisenstein was Yevgeny Yufit.

Evgeny Yufit. Photo by

Evgeny Yufit. Photo by A. Bezukladnikov

TECHNIQUE

Even in the 1980s, during the famous perestroika, independent cinema couldn’t exist in the USSR in 35-mm format and all aspects of film production were controlled by the state. The Necrorealists had to use 8mm film without a possibility to record sound, turning to more primitive modes of representation.

DEATH

Necrorealism was a way to get back at Socialist Realism. The Necrorealists were challenging the ways death was traditionally represented within Soviet culture: the heroic death in the name of the Motherland or death as a punishment for betraying it. They were interested in the taboo aspects of death, namely suicide, body decomposition and extreme violence.

PAINTINGS

The Necrorealist art group also produced a number of paintings quite in the line with their films:

Leonid Trupyr, “A Sultry Night in the Reeds”, used in the logo of the Necrorealist mock-studio Mzhalalafilm.  Two drowned sailors with slashed throats are walking through the reeds by the lake shore.

“A Sultry Night in the Reeds”, by Leonid Trupyr, 1987.
Two drowned sailors with slashed throats are walking by the lake shore.

“Electricians”, by Vladimir Kustov, 1990. The death of masturbating men in a sauna from an electric shock caused by lightning.

“Electricians”, by Vladimir Kustov, 1990.
The death of masturbating men in a sauna from an electric shock caused by lightning.

ATLAS

Around 1982, the Necrorealists came across a 1900 Russian edition of a book by the Austrian forensic physician Eduard von Hofmann entitled “Atlas of Legal Medicine”. This book became one of their inspiration sources.

Suicide by Hanging; Suspension of the Body for Several Days; Peculiar Distribution of the Hypostases.

Scanned page from the Atlas: “Suicide by Hanging; Suspension of the Body for Several Days; Peculiar Distribution of the Hypostases”.

FILMS

The films made by the Necrorealist art group initially were not meant to be screened to large audiences. Necrorealism existed in the domestic, private sphere of its makers, until this art movement was discovered by Western critics in the late 1980s.

Obskura’s selection of Necrorealist films screened in London on the 4th of December:

One Comment

  1. Just wow. Thank you, Obskura.

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