Ethnofuturism - an insight of the
humankind and a vision of the future
a creative personality, especially of an artist,
the native language, traditions and folk culture
play the most important role. Pictures of childhood,
the traditional costume of relatives, the ancient
household items, an Udmurt rug on the floor – all this becomes
imprinted in the person's memory, building up the
strong sense of ethnic identity. This is an extended
and complicated process. This is the road from suffering
a complex of ethnic inferiority and from the feeling
of being ashamed of your own language, to the feeling
of pride for belonging to your people and being
a part to one of the world's cultures. Indeed, this
is a two-way road: from ethnic identity to personal
identity and from personal identity to ethnic identity.
During this development, the universal culture is
gradually discovered and the person starts correlating
his or her own work of art with this global level.
as if one should first disengage from a particular
culture to acquire the feeling of being a citizen
of the world, a part of the eternal cosmos.
It is only through this prism, through one's being
aware of the enormous whole that the depth of one's
roots can be actually evaluated. You never know
when your genetic memory would wake up and the door
into the ancient space would sweep open. "This
is a great mystery", as it was once said.
of artistic profession is to create images basing
on the great spiritual experience gained by the
humanity and to search for new expressive means.
Ethnofuturist exhibitions in Udmurtia are a good
example. At the turn of centuries, a gifted young
generation has emerged, able to make a qualitative
leap in Udmurt culture. They are active in painting,
poetry, stage art, architecture and fiction. They
are full of energy, spiritually mature and have
something to say in the third millennium. This art
intelligentsia is already shaping a new mentality
of our people. I would like to particularly point
at the group conducting regular ethnofuturist exhibitions
in Udmurtia. These events draw participants from
other Finno-Ugric regions. Gradually, these actions
have been growing in scope to involve not only painters
but actors, musicians, dancers, scientists and poets
as well. The organisers were fortunate to generate
the main idea and develop the concept of these actions
such that the exhibitions have acquired a philosophical
message, acting as a powerful binding factor for
creative youth of different Finno-Ugrian countries.
of an artist with the greater whole is sublimative.
The artist's energy blazes invisible and surprising
ways in this whole. It is the universal divine energy
commanding this world that enables us to create.
This energy puts on motion the engine of artist's
mind, talent and education, shapes the personality.
The creative impulse comes from the nature, from
the cosmos, from the person's dialogue with God
- and artist returns it through his art to the people.
The artistic talent must develop freely, without
being restricted to the framework of a particular
culture. The school of ethnofuturism offers an artist
an opportunity to make a breakthrough into the worldwide
is the culture of links that bind people and things
together. It is strong enough to resist the scattering
tendencies in this world. While the Slavic world
has now come to be scattered and divided, the Finno-Ugrians
have instead started building bridges and discovering
each other with wonder. Now it is time to find those
relations that are not visible or seem to have been
lost. I mean the relations between the person and
the God, between an artist and an official, between
a human and a machine, between the microcosm and
the macrocosm, and the relations between different
categories, languages and genres. What are the properties
of these relations? The only way to learn and understand
these important things is through cultural action.
As the society
still remains disunited, it cannot therefore express
itself in an integral cultural message. In the 20th
century we came to see a peculiar phenomenon of
the genuine culture and the authorised culture being
almost regularly in opposition. But the authorised
art, too, can reach a qualitatively new level. It
was not by an accident that the International Centre
of Theatre in Paris was established by a person
like Peter Brook who is a world-wide known art director,
an enthusiastic experimenter, and the author of
a new method in stage art.
It is also
important not to yield to standard ideas concerning
your own culture. Superficial attributes of ethnicity,
sheer appearance are often understood as culture.
For the genuine culture to come to view, one has
to get free from the hypnosis of the so-called folklore
element. This element is exploited everywhere; in
all countries folklore groups are established and
popularised as a manifestation of ethnic culture.
However, this is just a pseudo-ethnic phenomenon.
In Russia, the genuine national culture is concealed
in remote places where the traditional patriarchal
way of life has remained. If you visit a Udmurt
village, you can see peasants for whom living in
the traditional culture is reality. They have retained
their customs, rites, ceremonies and elements of
their pagan religion, and they observe the folk
grandmother never wore dresses bought in a shop.
She always wore traditional clothes. As a person
who happened to live in the 20th and 21st centuries,
in the second and third millennium, and as an artist,
I would prefer to see the native ethnic culture
free, brought up to date and inspired by the divine
presence. I like to experiment, to weave the fabric
of my performance and to embroider it with mythological
patterns of ancient archetypes. These archetypes
communicate with the present in a strange way, obtaining
bizarre and infernal forms of the theatre of future.
What sort of theatre will it be? I think that, above
all, it shall be free from falseness, emotionally
strong, embracing the whole, and multidimensional
in its scope, bringing together the real and the
irreal, the past and the future. This is the challenge
for a contemporary artist who works and creates
in the aesthetics of ethnofuturism.
In our times,
it is important to make bridges between people of
different culture, religion and origin, to find
the links binding them together, and to transform
these links into a modern theatre, the theatre of
ethnic school. In the third millennium, ethnic theatre
appears to be an undoubtedly natural phenomenon.
Its very existence is a sign of the time, since
the world has only one reference point. In the beginning
of an era, a distinctly different way of thinking
tends to emerge, provoked by the need to search
for new forms and to get rid of mental stereotypes.
For example, we must view the folklore, the spiritual
and material culture of the Udmurts in the context
of other traditional cultures of the world.
and ethnography of all peoples have common roots.
This is a global tree, the layer of modern culture
being a part of it. In this fusion of cultures we
can find surprising analogies of plots, images and
traditions. Archetypes are common to all, despite
the difference in languages. Actually, the monoperformance
Three Wedding Tunes conducted in Udmurt language
is not an Udmurt play but a universal show understood
by everyone regardless of nationality or age. It
unites people, since they have common feelings,
emotions and ideas about the world. Other ideals
common to all humanity are love, patience, belief
The art of
theatre will advance through philosophical comprehension,
accumulation of experience of all traditional cultures,
and the ability to transform and synthesise archetypes
from the world's mythology and to embody them basing
of own traditional culture. This process requires
new aesthetics of ethno-theatre characterised by
reviving the deep antiquity through the prism of
the actual present and the aspirations for the future.
An important element in this process is the language.
Each language is unique. Each language sounds as
magical music, as a message from the cosmos. The
distinct melodic substance of a particular language
is the emotional code reflecting the passions that
give birth to the language. That is why, to the
ears of a contemporary spectator, a text in Old
Russian or a Udmurt prayer sounds so fantastic.
goal is to achieve that the sound, the form, the
colour, the way of actor's communication influence
the audience and produce catharsis, the phenomenon
for the sake of which the theatre and other arts
were devised. Ethnofuturism is part of this art.
It is thus an insight of the humankind and a vision
of the future.