Monday, December 13, 2021

‘The Provinces are Russia,’ Anna Markesh Karvaleyru Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – “A Moscow-centric view of Russian culture,” Anna Markesh Karvaleyru says, “is radically incorrect. We have an enormous country and it is very decentralized with all the regions significantly different from one another” and capable of producing their own distinctive arm.

            The cultural activist and administrator in Ulyanovsk who attracted widespread attention in 2020 when she ran for office under the slogan “We are all Negroes” but was exonerated because she has Negro ancestors is now taking aim at those who say that only in Moscow can Russians produce great art (

            “Kant lived his entire life in Koenigsburg but this didn’t prevent him from writing two great philosophical works,” Karvaleyru says. It may be easier to live in capital cities, but if you have something to say in art, “nothing more is needed” that what is “in your notebook or you head to realize your ideas.”

            What is especially important to remember, she continues, is that “creativity is not a game with only one end; it involves both viewer and artist. And the viewer must be prepared for the reality that art is not always a vase with flowers painted in oil.” More people in the metropolises may recognize this, but cultural activists in the regions can achieve the same understanding.

            The important thing is not to decide there is nothing that can be done except move to Moscow. Almost everyone dislikes the place where he or she lives, including those who live in the Russian capital, Karvaleyru says. But almost every place has qualities which can allow culture to flourish. 

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