March 25-26, 2017
The 5th "ComixStudies" conference. Comics as intermediary for memory and history.
The "ComixStudies" project begins its spring season! The 5th "ComixStudies" conference will be held in the Comics Library of Saint Petersburg in March 25-26, 2017. This time we approached one of the key topics of the contemporary human science: memory about the past and how it is formed by its intermediaries. As before comics forms are the focus point of our discussion.

In what way do comics forms represent historical characters and events of different countries? What features does comics have as an intermediary for collective (sometimes traumatic) memory of the past? What novelty does autobiographic experience get in the comics context? And the last but not the least how do we need to "remember about comics", and what options are there to preserve the art of comics? We encourage the participants of the "ComixStudies" to discuss these and other questions concerning comics and memory. Comics is not only an art, it is also the art of remembering.

On the 5th conference we are happy to announce the meet-the-artist session with Olga Lavrenteva. Her works include the collection of comics stories "Unrecognized States" and the recently published graphic novel "SHUV", which takes us back to the (surreal) life of the 1990s. Olga is one of the brightest and promising authors of the Russian comics. On March 25 you will have a perfect opportunity to talk to Olga and to learn more about her art.

Apart from that we invite everyone to join the roundtable "How should look comics museum in Russia?" on March 26th, where we will discuss preservation of comics forms, international experience and if there is a chance for comics museum in Russia.
Address of the event:
Comics Library of Saint Petersburg, 7th Krasnoarmeyskaya str., 30.

Timing:
March 25, 2017 (12:30 - 19:00), March 26, 2017 (13:00 - 15:00)

Speakers
Developing Comics Studies in Russia
Alexey Pavlovskiy
Founder of the "ComixStudies" project
"In search of authenticity": Ascold Akishin's "My comics biography" and the transformation of autobiographic writing" (first day), "Do we need comics museum in Russia? And if we do need it then what we should keep there?" (second day)
Julia Tarasyuk
Comics Library of Saint Petersburg
"Autobiography of Higashimura Akiko "Kakukaku shikajika" as a reflection of the female manga in 1990s and early 2000s" (first day), "Comics museum: Japanese experience" (second day).
Olga Lavrenteva
Comicswriter
Author of the graphic novels "Unrecognized States" and "SHUV". Meet-the-artist-session (first day).
Julia Veretnova
Independent researcher
"Preservation of comics as an art form or as a form of the "troubled" past display. The narrative question of the "dissonant heritage" in the contemporary museum work" (second day).
Anastasia Pavlovskaya
EUSP
"Comics of the Institute of National Remembrance: the intermediary for memory or the instrument of memory politics?" (first day)
Dmitry Tretyakov
EEIP
"Multiverse and postmodern or who is more important Spider-man or Hitler" (first day), "Progressive comics museum" (second day).
Anastasia Gushchina
SPbSU
"Fathers and Sons: representation of the family memory about the Holocaust in comics" (first day)
Maria Danova
SPbSU
"Norwegian documentary comics as a tool of realization of the national cultural canon (as represented in the comics biography "Munch")" (first day)
Elizaveta Voronina
"Pictures for smart guys. Anatomy of historical comics: typology, common mistakes, development, potential" (first day)
Conference schedule
Saturday, March 25, 2017 (12:30 - 19:00)
Day one

12:30 - Registration

13:00 – Introductory part

Welcome speech of the organizers A.F. Pavlovskiy (ComixStudies), J.A.Tarasyuk (curator of the Comics Library of Saint Petersburg).

13:15 - Workshop №1. Comics forms: "troubled" past and memory what happened (or not).

Elizaveta Voronina. Pictures for smart guys. Anatomy of historical comics: typology, common mistakes, development, potential.

In this paper the author suggests her own typology of historical comics and analyses them with the help of famous and little known but vivid examples. The most common mistakes made by the authors will be sorted out. The speaker is an artist who works on historical comics and knows the situation from the inside. She will express her opinion regarding advantages and disadvantages of the genre and will briefly describe its potential.

Anastasia Gushchina (SPbSU). Fathers and Sons: representation of the family memory about the Holocaust in comics.

"Maus" by Art Spiegelman and "Second generation" by Michel Kichka are graphic novels abour the Holocaust experience by the offspring of survivors. They raise the question of the attitude of fathers, who witnessed the genocide, and the offspring, who don't have their own memories about it. These texts divided by two decades rejected the common perception of the historical catastrophe and approached so just to start the conversation about family, memory, life, and death.

Anastasia Pavlovskaya (EUSPb). Comics of the Institute of National Remembrance: the intermediary for memory or the instrument of memory politics?

The Institute of National Remembrance is often called "the ministry of memory". In order to achieve their main goals in education its members quite often use comics forms. The article is supposed to find out main narrative structures of visual rhetoric, which are used by the comics creators when they tell about "traumatic zones" of Polish history, and to answer the question whether it is possible to consider IPN comics as an instrument of memory politics.

Dmitry Tretyakov (EEPI). Multiverse and postmodern, or Who is more important - Spider-man or Hitler.

Inside development history of imaginary worlds can be different. It can be "official" or not, serious or not so much, wholesome or sketchy. But from some point in its development all majors of the mass comics industry have begun to pay a lot of attention to it. Specialists are being assigned to control and develop "comicsverses", contradictions are being improved, and some works are getting the apocryphal status. Even here in Russia, the country which was in the outskirts of the mass comics culture not long ago, now serious books about imaginary worlds are published. Comic books contain nearly academic commentaries. The topic of the article is possible psychological reasons of this process and its social results considering the response of historical studies which, it would seem, should deal with the history of "real" world.

15:30 – Refreshment break.

16:00 - Comics and (auto)biography: remembering "yourself" and the Others.

Alexey Pavlovskiy (EUSPb). "In search of authenticity": Ascold Akinshin's "My comics biography" and the transformation of autobiographic writing.

Ascold Akishin's "My comics biography ", published by "Boomkniga" in 2013, is probably one of the first comics biographies in Russia and, to be more precise, it is the first and one-of-a-kind memoir about the origin of comics movement in our country. Akishin tells not only how it was to be Soviet/Russian comics artist in 1980-90s; the narrative of his own life is intertwined with the history the Moscow comics studio "KOM" (1980-1993). "My comics biography" is an unusual example of how comics format influences the structure of human reminiscences about their life. The aim of the article is to answer the question how the comics' writing transforms the rules of the autobiographic writing nowadays. In the context of Akishin's work we will try to understand what it means to remember via comics. What is the purpose of the memoir as a "talked over" document? How to decipher "memory ellipses"? Where does mania for genuine experience lead? And when will we finally start creating our own comics biographies en masse?

Maria Danova (SPbSU). Norwegian documentary comics as a tool of realization of the national cultural canon (as represented in the comics biography "Munch").

Documentary comics started developing in the USA in the 1960s-70s, but in Norway this genre became popular in the 1980s-90s, with the release of such original comic books about historical figures as the trilogy about Fridtjof Nansen (1985-87) and the biography of the language reformer Ivar Aasen (1996). An especially unconventional approach to transmitting cultural memory through documentary comics was invented by the artist Steffen Kverneland. Since 90s, he has been creating radical works in this genre, inspired by the cut-ups of William S. Burroughs: "cutting up" quotes from literary and documentary sources, he combines them in a certain manner to create sarcastic, sometimes absurd graphic novels. He shakes the fluff off of the canonized Norwegian classics in his Amputated Classics (Amputerte klassikere, 1994-2001), in the postmodern biography of the writer Arne Garborg Garborg & Co, or in the works created in collaboration with Lars Fiske, Olaf G. (a comics biography of the caricaturist Olaf Gulbransson, 2004), and Munch (2013), an outstanding book awarded the Brage Prize. Thus, he undermines the cultural canon with his anarchistic sarcasm, at the same time breathing new life into it.

Julia Tarasyuk (Comics Library of Saint Petersburg). Autobiography of Higashimura Akiko "Kakukaku shikajika" as a reflection of the female manga in 1990s and early 2000s.

Higashimura Akiko got the "Manga Taisho" for her manga autobiography in 2015. There she artistically showed the difference of the two ways: the ways of the artist and the way of the manga artist. And also she recreated the atmosphere of the epoch revealing the trends of the female manga by telling about the job in the manga magazine. The work of Higashimura reveals the world of the female manga creation. And it is rightly considered now one of the brightest in its field not only among the contemporaries but also among the artists of the older generation.

17:30 – Refreshment break.

18:00 - Comics in Russia here and now.

Olga Lavrenteva, author of the graphic novels "Unrecognized States" and "SHUV". Meet-the-artist-session.

From a review: "National majority and separatism, internet wars in the Antarctic, and political history of the state "Old Rusk. Olga Lavrenteva enriched Russian comics with such themes that after her whether you like it or not you will look through a broader lens. In 2016 the "Boomkniga" publishers releases Lavrenteva's new graphic novel "SHUV. Gothic detective". The story about two kids who draw a comic book and investigate a sui-/homicide of their neighbor can spark the interest of anyone. Especially of those who like a serious reading, remember the 90s, and who know the death is not the end, it is only the beginning".

19:00 – closing of the first day of the conference.
Sunday, March 26, 2017 (13:00 - 15:00)
Second day

Roundtable:
"How should look comics museum in Russia?"

Julia Tarasyuk. Comics museum: Japanese experience.

Dmitry Tretyakov. Progressive comics museum.

Julia Veretnova. Preservation of comics as an art form or as a form of the "troubled" past display. The narrative question of the "dissonant heritage" in the contemporary museum work.


Contemporary comics artists explore in their works the memory of troubled past. Comics is able to reflect controversial historical events, to tell about the traumatic memories which are sometimes covered up by museums. The International Council of Museums (ICOM), world organization of museums and museum professionals, announced the theme of the International Museum Day for 2017 "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums". The leading museum designers and analysts consider "troubled" past as a "dissonant heritage" and raise the question of how to speak the unspeakable in museums.

Alexey Pavlovskiy. Do we need comics museum in Russia? And if we do need it then what we should keep there?

The majority of us can say that comics museum in Russia is a ridicule and such a public space is impossible in the country where comics has begun to develop only recently. However we can expand our ideas about comics with the help of the term "comics form" and we can picture the history of "Russian comics" deeper than it seems at first sight. But nevertheless the question stays: what Russian comics forms should be presented? What narrative does it require? How can it legitimate Russian comics now? And the most important moment, who will finance all this?

15:00 – closing of the 5th "ComixStudies" conference.

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