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Ksenia Pavlenko: A Pause in Peripheral Perspectives

Borimir STotev15 July 2017


Ksenia Pavlenko, author of ‘A Pause in Peripheral Perspectives: Sergei Diaghilev’s 1898 Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Art’.


Ksenia is the Website and Social Media Manager and a member of the Advisory Board for the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre. She is an MPhil candidate in History of Art at the University of Cambridge, supervised by Dr. Rosalind Polly Blakesley, researching the visual culture of Finland as a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. Her studies extend from the establishment of Helsinki as a capital city in the early nineteenth century, to Finnish participation in early twentieth century artistic developments on an international scale. Ksenia completed her BA in History of Art and English Literature at the City University of New York in 2013, after which she worked for institutions such at the International Center of Photography and American Federation of Arts.

Ksenia’s SLOVO Journal article examines three years of monumental change in Finnish-Russian cultural relations at the fin de siècle. The territory of Finland had enjoyed autonomy and economic development for the greater part of the nineteenth century as a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. Sergei Diaghilev’s 1898 Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Art exemplifies how this positive dynamic began to manifest itself in transcultural exchange. Diaghilev sought for Russia’s creative circles to follow the Finnish example of engaging with Western European artistic developments while refining a distinct national vision. Such a dynamic would have appeased imperial interests in promoting its Russian heritage while allowing Finns to continue to express their distinct culture. The Russification Programme, initiated in 1899, changed an amicable relationship between the Russian Empire and its Finnish territory to one of oppression. The rich cultural heritage Finnish intellectuals had developed throughout the nineteenth century was quickly mobilised to resist imperial oppression, exemplified in the Finnish Pavilion at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. The collaborative potential of Diaghilev’s 1898 exhibition was replaced by a resounding call for Finnish autonomy at the 1900 Finish Pavilion. The period of 1898-1900 demonstrates how quickly Finland’s embrace of nineteenth-century nationalism transformed from a cultural blossoming to a politicised quest for autonomy.


The article ‘A Pause in Peripheral Perspectives: Sergei Diaghilev’s 1898 Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Art’ by Ksenia Pavlenko (University of Cambridge) was published in SLOVO Journal, VOL 29.1, and can be read in full here.


Posted by Borimir Totev, Executive Editor of SLOVO Journal

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