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A circulating tribute to El Lissitzky (1890-1941) and Sophie Lissitzky-Kueppers (1891-1978)

Breaking the boundaries between art and life, El Lissitzky and his wife Sophie Lissitzky-Kueppers led a nomadic existence. Traversing between different cities, countries and ideological regimes whilst collaborating with the international avant-garde across constantly changing political borders, the Lissitzkys were peripatetic cultural ambassadors of the unstable Twentieth century.​

El Lissitzky’s influence as an artist, architect, designer and theoretician spans an expansive territory covering Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Austria and France. His life and work link places like Pochinok, Vitebsk, Smolensk and Moscow with Darmstadt, Hanover, Berlin, Dresden, Cologne, Locarno, Rotterdam, Vienna and Paris, to name just the most important ones. Sophie Lissitzky-Kueppers, who followed her husband to the Soviet Union in the late 1920’s, was deported to Siberia shortly after El Lissitzky’s death in 1941. Once an active member of the European intellectual circles in Hanover, and for several years part of the cultural elite in Moscow, conversing with Eisenstein, Vertov, Meyerhold, Ginzburg, Tatlin and others, she spent the last four decades of her life in relative isolation and died in Novosibirsk in 1978.​


This double-heritage of a creative cosmopolitan culture on the one hand, and of the migratory, sometimes tragic biographies of some of the avant-garde’s most important figures on the other hand, inspired the concept of the circulating artefacts. Instead of erecting one fixed memorial in a particular location, a multiple and migratory object is proposed. The portable monuments reflect the bio-geographical itineraries of both Lissitzkys and pay tribute to the, often nomadic lives of artists in the first half of the Twentieth century.

The item’s figure is derived from the silhouette of a perspectival hollow cube. Referring back to El Lissitzky’s Prouns and his concepts of Pangeometry and Imaginary Space, the visual and haptic perception of the hand-held monument oscillates between a two-, and a three-dimensional piece. Key stations of the Lissitzkys’ lifelong journey are registered along its sides.


Launched in Novosibirsk, the portable objects will travel with their individual carriers. The place of an ending thus turns into the place of a beginning, with each token becoming a gift from Sibiria, slowly disseminated throughout the world like black currency. Worn as a badge or on a chain, kept in the pocket or on a mantelpiece, it pays tribute to the cosmopolitan itineraries of the avant-garde: a circulating talisman for the 21st century nomad.

Gabor Stark



First prize in the international design competition:



Organised by the Siberian Center for Contemporary Arts and the Siberian Center for the Promotion of Architecture in Novosibirsk, Russia



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