11 December 2016


On The New Prostory 

Prostory was conceived several years ago as a publication which uses the experience of literary translation to look at a wide—perhaps too wide—range of practices: literature, social criticism and modern art. 

Nearly all the editors of Prostory during its first incarnation from 2009 to 2013 saw themselves as translators, and were so dedicated to their work that they never found time for discussion of the magazine’s concept. Yet this silence did not mean the absence of a position.

Prostory’s editorial policy was presented to its readership through its texts, the way in which they were published, and by the very fact of their selection. Viewing literature through the process of its re-telling or translation, through literary texts, was a way to guard the magazine against dogmatism and a limited vocabulary of received wisdoms. Social criticism existed as our fundamental initial position. It manifested itself in nearly everything we published, and did not need further evidence or manifestos.

A new editorial board is beginning work on Prostory. This means that under the same name will begin - indeed, continue - the existence of a different project. The name remains as it was without explanation because - or maybe not because - the traditions of Prostory will continue.  To say that is especially easy for me, because the traditions of Prostory were never formulated as something stable, whole and consistent. Literary translation at this publication has always been in perpetual motion; it has existed as a bridge from one state of being to another, a conversion in which, through texts or images, were discerned the contours of a city, a place or an event.

The year is 2017. This project is coming into existence in a time of war, the most significant for us, because of its proximity, being the war in Eastern Ukraine. This war has been going on since 2014, and is developing like a chronic illness, through localised but constant painful signals, resonating with the wars in Syria, Iraq and Nagorno-Karabakh and Yemen.

The exotic unusualness of the word “war” is gradually disappearing, used as it is to describe our society and our reality. It’s a messenger from the pantheon of symbols of the Soviet past, and the world of post-war cinema.

We’re creating a literary and art online journal at a time when news reports have become the most meaningful texts, when photographs from the scene of events are the most important images. Previous news stories cannot be entirely forgotten, even though they are overtaken with great speed by waves of the latest reports, although they don’t permit us to forget them entirely.

Memory is selective, and while our attention is drawn to news bulletins, literary works are not at odds with this, but rather exist within the depths of this scorching stream, of reactions, summaries, compressed formulations and retellings of events.  

Everyday reality, labour rights, private lives, incidents, ways of life, in spite of their relative invisibility, are the focus of our attention.

It seems to me that what lies ahead for the Prostory editorial board is an exploration of the interactions between various forms of expression, and a search for the line where news and event become image, exhibition, conversation, literature, literary translation or protest action.    

I write “it seems to me” because at Prostory there is no chief editor. Nor is there a precise editorial policy which might already be know at a moment such as this, when everything which we as an editorial board write and say is nothing more than a foreword.

Yevgenia Belorusets