Recently at a meeting at the Student Cultural Centre in Novi Sad, I saw on the wall the video reproduction of Picasso’s poster for the film “Battle of Neretva”. Veljko Bulajic paid to Picasso for that work with 12 bottles of wine from different parts of Yugoslavia. In this 1969. Picasso worked posters for Yugoslav films which were played by actors such as Orson Welles, Richard Burton, Franco Nero and others. The biggest na¬mes of film industry, from all over the planet,cameto FEST in Belgrade.
Then in the early nineties, there started to visit us the characters of Foolishness for Christ, like the self-proclaimed successor of the House of Dolgorukov and the Nemanjic dynasty. The above-mentioned, non-destined king of Serbia died in Madrid in 1996. from AIDS. We were also visited by Daniel Schiffer and his Countess (both arrested for ste¬aling a dress from boutique), Eduard Limonov (shooting with the Pala cannonall over Sarajevo) and the like. Over the past decade, the big na¬mes of world art scene began to come to Belgrade again.
One Sunday evening in late April, by the courtesy of Aja Jung, I fo¬und myself at a dinner in extravagant Belgrade restaurant “Lorenzo & Kakalamba”. Honorary guests were Mikhail Baryshnikov and his wife Lisa Rinehart. Baryshnikov played that evening the first of three Belgrade performances “Brodsky/Baryshnikov”. Interesting company at the table – there are also Ana Brnabic, Ivan Tasovac, US Ambassador Kyle Scott with his wife Nevenka.
As a large number of Serbian media scandalously announcedthe guest, who arrived in Belgrade and addressed the public in the library of the Parliament of Serbia, as “the star of the series Sex and the City”, all pre¬sent at the table tried to avoid these words. Baryshnikov drank beer, ate stew and had conversation in a relaxed manner.
I was interested in the story of Brodsky with whom Mikhail was friend¬sfor more than two decades. I came across the grave of Joseph Brodsky a few years ago on the Venetian island of San Michele in the part for “non-Catholics”. Besides Brodsky, there lie as well Igor Stravinsky, Ezra Pound, and many other well-known contemporaries. The cemetery is lo¬cated opposite the Venetian city hospital from whose windows, acro¬ss the sea, the dying patients can see their eternal place of rest. If you think that you will find here the graves of the famous Doges of the Republic Venice – you are wrong, because it was set off in 1807.just after Napoleon abolished Serenissima and ordered its residents to bury the¬ir fellow citizens in a hygienic manner, outside the city, on the island of St. Michele, and not in churchyards throughout the city as they did until then.
That evening Baryshnikov told me an anecdote about how their mu¬tual friend Susan Sontag sought relocate the grave of Brodsky, a na¬tive Jew, away from the grave of Ezra Pound who openly declared himself as anti-Semite and supporter of Mussolini and Hitler. Susan Sontag was for some period of time in a relationship with Brodsky, but a few years before his death she became a partner of the famo¬us photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Scenography in the style of Belle Époque (Eng. Beautiful Era), in whi¬ch Baryshnikov recitesin the play the magical verses of Brodsky, reminded me of the architecture of Riga, the birthplace of Mikhail. Seven years ago I was with friends in the capital of Latvia, a city with probably the most beautiful women in the world and the largest “collection” of preserved buildings in the Art Nouveau style.After Belgrade, which he has toured almost the entire on foot Baryshnikov went to Riga, where he was awarded with the honorary citize-
nship of Latvia.
I am not a Russophile, I do not speak Russian, and rarely have the opportunity to listen to it, but about more than an hour of “Brodsky/Baryshnikov” will make you an incurable lover of Russian language and poetry.
Writen by: Robert Čoban