Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




The Zenithist Woman

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live

Please join the East Central European Center at the Harriman Institute and the Njegoš Endowment for Serbian Language and Culture for a presentation by Žarka Svirčev, Research Associate at the Institute for Literature and Arts, Belgrade, at the Periodicals Department for the History of Serbian Literature and Culture. This event is part of the event series East Central Vanguard: New Perspectives on the Avant-Garde.

The analysis of the Zenit magazine from the feminist perspective allows us to examine and point out the numerous positions and roles that female authors have occupied in avant-garde creative and distribution networks (poets, translators, critics, visual artists, editors, patrons, etc.). The narrative of female authorship in Zenit challenges the dominant conceptions of the avant-garde. That conceptions either ignore female authorship or do not respect the specifics of women’s text policies conditioned by the gendered experience of the world, because they do not coincide with the masculine discourse set as the norm. The emancipatory platform of the female authors is rooted in the development of their subject positions and their imaginative insights. The figure of Anuška Micić, alias Nina-Naj, is challenging and provocative, especially in the context of Serbian/Yugoslav culture. Her works represent a notable form of female authorship in Zenit and the regional avant-garde context. Anuška Micić was the first woman to be the secretary, manager, and translator of an international avant-garde magazine. Furthermore, she was an innovative visual artist, and one can depict in her visual (self)representation elements of the feminist ideas of the new woman.

Image caption: Vilko Gecan, portrait of Anuška Micić (1921).

Žarka Svirčev is a Research Associate at the Institute for Literature and Arts, Belgrade, at the Periodicals Department for the History of Serbian Literature and Culture. She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Department of Serbian Literature at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad. She obtained her PhD degree at the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade. She published the books Ah, that identity! Deconstruction of gender stereotypes in the work of Dubravka Ugrešić (2010), Vinaver’s Literary Republic (2017), Portrait of the predecessor: Draga Dejanović(2018) and Avant-Garde Women. Essays on Serbian (female) avant-garde literature (2018).

East Central Vanguard: New Perspectives on the Avant-Garde

2021 Lecture Series

East Central European Center is pleased to host a webinar series on interwar art and culture. This series focuses on artists from East Central Europe whose art practices and contributions to various local and international avant-gardes have attracted less or no critical attention within Modernism Studies.

The avant-garde demand for crossing aesthetic boundaries within the domain of everyday life does not necessarily nullify the modernist right of art to its autonomy, but seeks to understand art as a practice accessible to all and based on the belief in its power to fundamentally change and improve social conditions. The avant-garde replaced the modernist perception of the uniqueness of the work of art that yields aesthetic pleasure isolated from practical life, with the direct call for “Art into life!” The repercussion of efforts to abolish the distance between art and life is characterized, above all, by the fact that we no longer speak of avant-garde texts or objects in the categories of literary work or aesthetic artwork, but in the categories of literary, or rather, avant-garde manifestations. The East Central Vanguard webinar series is devoted to an investigation of artists from East Central Europe whose lives and art practices deserve to be credited amongst such avant-garde manifestations.

FEBRUARY 23, 2021
Off the Page: In Search of the Romanian Avant-Garde Outside its Publications

Alexandra Chiriac (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

MARCH 23, 2021
Many Masks: The Radical Politics and Performance of Míra Holzbachová

Meghan Forbes (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

MARCH 30, 2021
Radical Women: Jolán Simon and Other Female Artists in Hungarian Avant-Garde Periodicals

Gábor Dobó (Kassák Museum – Petőfi Literary Museum, Budapest)

APRIL 6, 2021
The Zenithist Woman

Žarka Svirčev (Institute for Literature and Arts, Belgrade)

APRIL 20, 2021
Katarzyna Kobro and Debora Vogel as “Composers of Space”

Michalina Kmiecik (Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

Event Video