I have titled this body of work Lost Edge. I use the word “edge” because I draw a comparison between the notion of the avant-garde in war and the art world. In the early twentieth century, the avant-garde was at the height of its importance in both realms. Now, however, just as the concept of the military avant-garde has been “lost” because of changes in methods of warfare, the avant-garde in the contemporary art world has also lost its edge.
The source material for this body of work is images of ruins of the once-mighty fortifications of the Mannerheim Line, built to protect Finland from the advances of the Soviet military avant-garde. Finland’s attempt was valiant, but in vain; this war and the lives that were lost in 1939 are largely forgotten. The fortification lies in ruins, and nature is slowly reclaiming it. Similarly, the “cutting edge” of the contemporary art world seems to have become blunted. Viewers of the avant-garde work of many visionary artists of the early twentieth century were shocked, challenged, and inspired by Malevich’s Black Square and Marchel Duchamp’s urinal. Because of changes in society, like changes in warfare, it has become difficult for today’s contemporary artist to generate the same level of response without resorting to vulgarity.
Dimitri Kozyrev was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1967. He received a BFA from Ohio University in 1997 and an MFA from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and he is the recipient of the 2000 Abrams Prize from U.C. Santa Barbara and the 2005 Art Omi Residency. He lives and works in Tucson, Arizona.