Nabokov Would Have Wanted It This Way

Nabokov Museum Shuts Down “Nude” Comics Exhibition
October 1, 2015

The Nabokov Museum, a branch of the St. Petersburg State University Faculty of Philology and Arts, has shut down an exhibition by artists Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer, which was part of the 2015 Boomfest International Comics Festival. According to one account, the reason for the closure was that the works featured images of naked, primarily male, bodies.

Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer, panel from Plus Si Entente

Boomfest founder Dmitry Yakovlev said to Rosbalt that museum staff had told him problems might arise with the show because of the nudity while it was still being mounted. A compromise was therefore reached. The European artists’ nude characters were dressed in paper underwear.

“We agreed to a compromise. The guests at the show’s opening even thought the underwear was supposed to be there. The artists were probably also not willing to have their show closed. But this variation with the underpants was found. Naturally, before opening the show, we discussed it with the museum. We promised there would no flagrant eroticism or pornography. Yet when you walk around the city there are naked bodies all over the place,” said Yakovlev.

The exhibition was open three days. It was dismantled personally by staff at the Nabokov Museum. Boomfest organizers have no plans to find a new venue for the show. Its layout was quite complicated, as it was embedded into the museum’s interior. The works will soon be sent back to Goblet in Brussels, and Pfeiffer in Berlin.

Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer
Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer

According to Yakovlev, this was the first time an exhibition had been shut down in Boomfest’s nearly decade-long history. However, festival organizers have experience organizing even more complex projects in terms of message and graphic content. For example, in 2011, artists Anton Nikolayev and Victoria Lomasko presented the book Forbidden Art, a graphic reportage documenting the trial of the curators of the exhibition Forbidden Art 2006.

“I am extremely saddened by what has happened, but I am especially sadden by the fact that we don’t know the exact cause  of the show’s closure,” said Yakovlev.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Images courtesy of Boomfest

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