An exclusive intimate interview with two extraordinary international artists/authors from Russia. This is not a Russian fairytale — Azsacra Zarathustra and Katya Ganeshi: their Art, Literature, and Artistic Mission Revealed.
I first became acquainted with the books of Azsacra through our mutual publisher: Cyberwit, in India, quite a number of years ago. I have always been intrigued by the philosophical underpinnings of Azsacra’s work — be it literature, videos, and performance art works such as the public burning of his book of blank pages. The burning of the books was perhaps seen by some as a commentary on self-censorship and censorship by others, but I always understood it to have a deeper philosophical meaning and significance. I will not “interpret” this performance art piece, as we are so fortunate as to have both Azsacra and Katya here to personally reveal exciting information about that and other works. I would like to start this interview by delving into the basic questions about the history of your collaboration.
When did you start working together on art projects? Please tell us in your own words the history of your Art, including Theatre of Cruelty, art photography etc., and how that led to book publications, video artworks, performance artworks and more.
Katya and Azsacra:
Russia. The Urals. Magnitogorsk. The 90’s … It is important to say at once: we live in a very non-free and repressive city. A totalitarian city of continuous and exhausting slave labor — “Stalin’s steel heart”. It is a city-factory that has been ruthlessly milling its workers since 1929. Our task, therefore, was to destroy the original code of the socialist workers’ culture of forced labor. We sharply contrasted ourselves and our art of Absolute Freedom with the usual slave labor narratives. We struck in all cultural directions at once, including with the “sexual revolution”. This caused a deep shock! And, accordingly, we were immediately banned and eventually persecuted. In a short period of time, we really changed the cultural life of this city in the direction of freedom. Azsacra started the struggle in the early 90’s, and Katya Ganeshi joined in the late 90’s. In 2000, all of our underground fronts merged into one counter-cultural project, an “Experiment”.
The Readers will surely want to hear from you about how your Art has been received internationally, and in Russia.
I know that you have had a large following internationally for many years, and the many blog postings I have made about your work, links to your videos etc. have always brought many interested persons to my blogs. I also know that some individuals have misinterpreted your work, and the philosophical underpinnings in your writings and videos. Your writing and video art is often somewhat “raw”, which is an important artistic tool. And that rawness/extreme art can be considered by some to convey a different message than what you have perhaps intended. I have, myself, answered questions regarding your “intentions” by other authors — which can only be interpretational on my part, and are thus not only unanswerable, but such questions are perhaps an “artistic sin”, in my view. I have also answered questions about your Art being pornography, in my essay on your early art photography books: https://adam-donaldson-powell.blog/2014/11/22/extreme-azsacra-zarathustra/
Katya and Azsacra:
From a certain “borderline moment”, we learned how to amplify, slip away, and transform. We began with publishing our books only abroad. In different languages. Mostly philosophy and writings requiring more deep thinking than mere “thought” itself. Today, more so fantastic, incredible (exceeding the maximum value, beyond the limits) “explosive texts” without titles; and we are sure they will never be adapted to the needs of contemporary culture and/or thrown to the mercy of the “meta-categories” of a suppressing dictatorial future. Instead, they are rather rough “drafts” of thought, but they are more hard-hitting than the elegant/graceful philosophical “masterpieces” of the past. All of our hollow anti-structural texts are cruelly devised to viciously resist both genius and mediocrity with their much-loved, benign “apparatus” of prohibitions and repression. At the moment, these dangerous books are being perhaps «cautiously» read around the world, but this achievement saddens us rather than pleases us. We would like to communicate only through sudden casts of light and instant flashes of lightning. Anti-philosophical books are very strange, maddening “ciphers”, “thinking traps”, “alarm signals”, and even more dangerous (sometimes deadly) riddles. Plus, we do a lot of experimental films. We have made over a hundred documentaries in different languages, and for different countries (India, Japan, Tibet …). Our films are shown in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and other cities.
Azsacra, you and I also collaborated on the epic poem introduction to “The tunnel at the end of time”, which is still — many years later — very popular on the internet.
I see extreme Art as a genre, rather than a stunt to shock or provoke. Your literary and visual artworks are quite profound, and I have never perceived you as intending to shock or provoke just to stand out. Artistic genius requires a different way of seeing the World, presenting issues, a solid philosophical backbone … and perhaps a special type of “weirdness”.
But please tell us how you think that your work has been received — both internationally, and in Russia.
Katya and Azsacra:
Parallel to deep provocative anti-philosophical thoughts/ideas and vivid, impressive images, we contribute our risk-taking, storms, and culture shock. Many people consider Azsacra the most dangerous anti-philosopher of the 21st century. Some even call him the devil of philosophy. Katya Ganeshi has been called the Indian Baudelaire, and the new Bow of Evil in India. Our mission is to change reality itself towards freedom, and not relegated to a shelf of forced historical glory.
I have asked you many times about the various philosophical ideas behind your work. Can you explain the “basics” for our Readers? And how much does human psychology play a part in your Art … through play with the thought processes of your audiences, posing subjective questions that may be jarring and which might attempt to awaken or jolt consciousness in others? Here I am asking not only about your books, your poetry, your video artworks, but also about your art photography and Theatre of Cruelty.
Katya and Azsacra:
Aggression, in its true life impulse, will always be relevant for the most “terrifying workers” of thought. Free rebellious Eros is not a “forced ejaculation” of everyday love. Life, childbearing, death — this is violence against the body. The philosopher always applies the most complex and the simplest means at the same time. Aggression, violence, toughness — this is simplicity. Tenderness, thrill, fragility is complexity. Antonin Artaud taught “to deflect form and incite chaos”. Azsacra singles out “chaos to freedom” and turns it against all types of “controlled chaos”, against all “lower anarchies” of the system. He needs the pure energy of rebellion for the height of thought, and not for the earthiness of strife and the routine of pogroms. He is not interested in “aggression” by itself, but in what initially surpasses it in “secret deconstruction” from the most soft. For example, the fluttering of a butterfly as a guarantee of the fall of fortresses, the trembling of a drop as energy for a tsunami strike, the twisting of a lizard’s tail as the death / life of all at once. He is always ready to talk to pigs, but the main thing is not to throw pearls in front of a person.
Azsacra developed the combative concept “NothingNietzsche” (and more) and used it quite successfully against both Western thought and Eastern philosophy. To paraphrase the sad, but merry suicidal guy Guy Debord: “any philosophy must also be destroyed”. For what? For the triumph of the Impossible and Incredible. Not “we don’t think yet” (Heidegger), but we still don’t risk so much for thought in speed and madness. Lightning, unlike an atomic explosion, can never be old-fashioned. If the world is still the same “human crap”, then the “will to power” is human rubbish. Everything is an illusion, everything is a copy of a copy (“no original”). That is: no female organism has yet been able to checkmate with your uterus to the matrix in this completely deceitful world. Thus spoke Zarathustra. And this is how it is indicated in the most ancient “negations” and new “negations”. Azsacra is also a denier. Nietzsche without Nietzsche — this is his lightning! Zarathustra against Zarathustra — this is the madness!
Katya and Azsacra, I am curious about how you see your roles and goals as artists in society (or outside of society), and also how you see yourselves and your Art in the context of modern Art history. Please reflect upon these questions, and their relevance or non-relevance for you — both in terms of international art history, and Russian modern art history.
Katya and Azsacra:
We are always above and outside art (Über Ihren Köpfen)! We struggle everywhere, but we belong to no one and to nothing … Our goal: to constantly improve our weapons of thought, intuition, and impact … Only rebellious continuous changes! Art must be constantly attacked with the riskiest works: bombs of thought! Azsacra specifically invented the TDAS Theory of the Destruction of All Systems for this purpose.
So we completely agree with your conclusion from the article “Azsacra Zarathustra … the phenomenon, and the enigma”:
“Time and time again, Azsacra has bombarded the public with staged photographic series dealing with illusions of sexuality, death, fauna and self-harm, and always with hints of a deeper and more esoteric philosophical foundation. Over the years his internet following has grown to the point where he is now an underground cult figure. There are many questions and opinions on internet and YouTube forums as to what his art and philosophy really mean. Azsacra has no need to explain or justify his work in these forums, and his literature and art must and should stand on its own.”
You have constantly pushed the limits of your audiences through your artworks, writings, and your predator bird sanctuary project. Can you tell us about some of the projects which have had special significance for you, which ones have been fun, and what has been difficult? I would also like to hear you describe the animal sanctuary, which I saw as a monumental performance art piece of great significance as regards both animal rights, survival of endangered species, and better understanding these beautiful creatures whose territories, habitats and ability to survive humans have encroached upon.
Katya and Azsacra:
Helping wounded birds in our lives is a worldview and as essential as breathing, both at the same time. We just did that which others refused to do. Birds are the connection of the earth with heaven, the concrete correspondence of the rebellious soul to the star imperative of the wise Kant. Every spring, for almost 30 years, we released rehabilitated birds. The sanctuary was a low, old building, with four areas for feeding birds, which people in the city considered magical and called it “a place of freedom where birds arrive”. We housed all kinds of birds in protected habitats — both birds of prey and singing birds in trees. Because of this, a tough confrontation arose with officials and the apparatus of repression in the city where we live. The struggle lasted for a very long time. Nevertheless: the building of the Center for Assistance to Wounded Birds was ultimately seized one night (taken by storm) with the help of the police. For us, this was comparable to our own death … We’ll never forget that.
Artistic expression and Freedom of Speech is not always a given. Artists and authors must continually fight for those rights. Can you please tell us about your own experiences with censorship — internationally, and in Russia? How has this affected your Art, and your perceptions of artistic freedom today? Ideas are often considered “dangerous”, and extreme artists poke the bear … so to speak. I believe that poking the bear of dulled collective consciousness is a necessity. It is hard work, but it needs to be done. And furthermore that concepts of Truth/Lies, Beauty,/Ugliness, Light/Darkness etc. are all both relative, and simplistic … if not irrelevant. One role of artists is to poke that consciousness. Do you agree?
Katya and Azsacra:
Yes. A tragedy is not an antique “theater of thought”. There is always an even more ancient inexplicable thirst — to overtake death at once! Or more exactly — a constant intuitive hunt of Death itself. Challenge! If you’re still alive, you’ve already betrayed something. Only the most extreme risk of thought (without “academic philosophers”) and the maximum bravery of action (outside of “systemic heroes”) can, if not change the world, then at least defiantly, freely and with daredevil spirit break its dull “habitual rhythm” of hidden/open coercion. The system is truly the “boredom-violence” of war, and is the essence of the cursed “spirit of gravity”! As was said in 1968: “Boredom is always counter-revolutionary. Always.” Nietzsche loved tragedy, the Buddha considered it an illusion, however, as well as, of course, the dramatic “simulacrums” of Baudrillard. There is no “tragedy”, they just grab you by your hair and slam your face against the wall. With any resistance of thinking to the “system”, the continuity of the strikes will only increase. Therefore, in extreme, rebellious philosophy, you are immediately doomed to annihilation. The maximalist’s “riot-thinking” never has any chance of surviving! Essentially: true philosophy, in this space and time — these are endless «thought fields», filled only with Orwellian “trampling boots”.
AMSTERDAM-TV: AZSACRA ZARATHUSTRA (2020)
«You rose like the tempest and you fell like the sunset»
INVISIBLE RESISTANCE (Life-Giving Heat Revolutions)
Heat Thinking Of The Absolute Revolution
❝ЗВЕРЬ❞ (Не брат всем) ~ Наутилус Помпилиус
Links of book: