Odessa: Yugo-LEF, 1924. Item #1805
16 pp. 26,5x18 cm. In original constructivist wrappers. Spine, wrappers, outer corners of pages restored, otherwise very good. Between the last leaf and the back cover, one advertisement from a pre-revolutionary book is inserted.
The second of five issues produced. One of 3000 copies. Extremely rare. Cover design created by Nikolay Sokolov (1904-1990). He designed all issues, except for the first one.
Yugo-LEF as the group existed for less than a year. It was formed in April of 1924. The editorial board of the magazine included three writers – Leonid Nedolia, Semyon Kirsanov, Sergey Bondarin, and two artists – Nikolay Sokolov and Nikolay Danilov. Ukrainian-born poet Leonid Nedolia became the main manager of the group. At that time he just returned from Moscow where he was the editor-in-chief of the satirical periodical ‘Krysodav’ [i.e. The Rat-Crusher], so he worked with Mayakovsky, Igor Terentiev, Kruchyonykh, Meyerhold, Dmitrii Moor, etc.
Over the course of the year, the organization led a very active life: five issues of the magazine were accompanied by the addresses. On May 1, 1924, Yugo-LEF was granted several trucks, from which the lectures and the poems were performed. According to Kirsanov, that day he had 80 poetical performances. Leonid Nedolia has proven to be a talented organizer, under his management the group has included 500 members with two headquarters in Odessa and with branches in Sevastopol, Ekaterinoslav (now - Dnipro), Zinovievsk (now - Kropyvnytskyi).
The reasons why such an active and orderly organization have been closed down are twofold: some researches state that the reasons were ideological: Nedolia viewed Yugo-LEF as the branch of Moscow-based LEF, the idea was opposed by Mayakovsky who welcomed the local initiatives but didn’t want to govern or create the bureaucracy. Also, it’s known that Nedolia didn’t like the fact that half of LEF’s senior members didn’t belong to the Bolshevik party, which made their agitation less effective in his eyes.
The last big project of the ‘Southern LEF’ was the attempt to create the theater around the group. The only play staged was ‘Amazing Adventures of Nichevoki’ (the main Russian dada poetry group that existed in Moscow and Rostov on Don in 1920-1923), staged by Yurenev and designed by Danilov. The theater where the premiere should have been held was burnt down a week before the event so the production moved to the circus. The performance itself deserves a direct quote from the member of the editorial board of ‘Yugo-LEF’ Sergey Bondarin: “The show started with our ideological leader Leonid Nedolia entering the arena on the motorcycle in nothing but underwear, while the first row occupied the ‘YUGO-LEF girls’ in bikinis. The audience panicked during the performance of actors playing soldiers aimed their guns at the audience, people started to leave the circus in a hurry, so Yurenev had to come up on the stage and explain that it’s just part of the play. Most have left by then”. In March 1925, Yugo-LEF ceased to exist.
This periodical was called by Vladimir Mayakovsky ‘a small magazine that is capable of causing endless problems’. In this particular issue, some articles are devoted to the problems of left art. In “On the Theory of Pictorial Molecules”, Sokolov tries to define the unit of spatial design. In “Theater on Wheels” Danilov discusses tasks of propaganda theaters. New times required new theatrical forms and most agitation troupes were mobile performing directly in factories. Next to his article, news on the Berezil theater was published. In the text “Yugo-LEF on literary positions”, Nedolia elaborated on the activity of contemporary Ukrainian literary groups: “Plug”, “Gart”, “Kommunkult” and compares them to Yugo-LEF. According to him, the program and practice of “Kommunkult” was 99 percent similar to the LEF.
Also, the issue includes various poetry and prose works.
Paper copies are located in Stanford University and Getty Institute.