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Zoo, or Letters not about Love (Still images from a film never made, letters to a person who never existed, words about feelings never felt)

Digital collages mounted in wooden light boxes, 40cm x 30cm.

In the 1920s the Russian writer and formalist Viktor Shklovsky (1893-1984) lived in exile in Berlin. At that time it was a lot of Russian intellectuals and artist in the same situation caused by the political situation. In this group of people, he met the Russian/French writer Elsa Triolet. Viktor fell madly in love with her and started to send her several letters a day. An arrangement she accepted under one condition: he was forbidden to write about love.

This was the starting point of the book called Zoo, or letters not about Love. In this book Shklovsky tries in fantastic ways to avoid the forbidden topic by writing about everything else; like the weather, literature, philosophy, politics and also gossiping about their Russian colleagues. Amazingly, every subject Shklovsky choose turns out to be a metaphor for unrequited love. Seven of the letters in the book were actually written by Triolet, so the book consist of letters, corresponding between two ex-lovers, immigrants from both east and west, and writers in a difficult time in Europe.

The book is about how art and life is melting together involuntary. Where trying to avoid one subject, he ends up losing control of his impossible love, and blames the limitation and clichés in language. (How I want to simply describe object as if literature had never existed; that way one could write literarily)
Shklovsky was the founder of OPOYAZ (Society for the Study of Poetic Language), one of the two groups, with the Moscow Linguistic Circle, which developed the critical theories and techniques of Russian Formalism. As a formalist he was keen to secure the value of the poetic language, at that time when language was a weapon to promote politics and social purposes.

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