Recently the Russian art community was shaken by news about the sudden death of Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, an eccentric and outstanding figure of the Russian non-conformism scene. He passed away at the age of 44 and was known as a master of impersonation. During his art career Mamyshev-Monroe portrayed various public figures from political leaders, pop icons, and characters from fairy tales. He performed as Hitler, Putin, Elizabeth II, Madonna, Jesus, and many more. He was known for his first performance of the magnificent Marliyn Monroe. Mamyshev-Monroe used the pop icon image in Sergei Kurekhin’s show “Popular mechanics”. and starred in a media art project called “The Pirate TV” in late 80s where he became the first drag queen in the Soviet Union.
He performed for photograph sessions, films, and bohemian parties. Whatever he did while he was playing his roles, if he sang, danced, read monologues, it always was a great show. And there, he was not an actor but a performance artist who used his own face as his canvas.
Being playful and whimsical at the same time, he behaved both as a spoiled pop star and a freaky fool. As a motley man, Mamyshev-Monroe was never afraid to speak his mind. Thus that`s how he commented on his impersonation of Putin for Artchronica magazines cover, “When I was Putin I felt like a gigantic maggot. And it literally was my health service. A maggot is a worm which lives in a spoiled meat to decompose it.”
One performance was rather humorous when Mamyshev-Monroe took on the the role of Polonius, a king`s servant, in an experimental play titled “Polonius”. In the experimental play Polonius replaced the prince who was the main character and took all his key monologues, switching roles of royalty and servant. A story of great tragedy became a story of absurdity. The play opened in December 2012 and was a hit, was was expected to continue this April but it didn`t happen because On March 16th Mamyshev-Monroe drowned in a hotel swimming pool on an island in Bali.
In Russia Mamyshev-Monroe was primarily represented by XL gallery, but ut the exhibition that eventually became his last show took place in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. “Polonius” photo series was dedicated to the play and was shown in the 8th Moscow International Biennale of “FASHION AND STYLE IN PHOTOGRAPHY 2013″.
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-Contributed by Karina Abdusalamova