Tova Tachau

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20232024 Forum on Revolution

Tova Tachau

Biochemistry and Comparative Literature

CAS, 2025

Tova is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Biochemistry and Comparative Literature. Her research interests encompass total organic synthesis and drug discovery alongside the Russian Avant-Garde, namely, the volatility of art and language in Russian Futurism; she also dabbles in Marxian theory. Just as organic chemistry provides the building blocks for novel biological molecules, Tova finds that Soviet-era art and literature yield the tools to synthesize novel perspectives of the past. In five years, you will probably find Tova in one of the following pursuits: studying to obtain a medical degree (following in the footsteps of one of her favorite authors, Mikhail Bulgakov), working as a paragliding instructor in Switzerland, performing in Cirque du Soleil, or any combination of the above. Outside of her studies, Tova enjoys training in circus arts (particularly rope, trapeze, and silks), hiking with her dog, Charley, and reading outdoors.

Embryos of Possibility in Malevich and Khlebnikov: Russian Futurist Revolutions Beyond Time, Space, and Language, 1913-1917

“We are destroying your old world,” declared Futurist poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky. Iconoclastic, dynamic, and provocative, Russian Futurists revolutionized the very fundamentals of literature and art: consonants became color and texture, vowels became time and space, and words became independent actors in history. This project explores the limits of artistic incomprehensibility by investigating two artists who radically broke convention: Kazimir Malevich, founder of Suprematism, the “supremacy” of feeling over realism, and Velimir Khlebnikov, inventor of zaum, the transrational language composed of nonsensical syllables. How does regression to and revolution of the most elemental units of time, space, and language reveal a simultaneous progression toward realizing the future within the present moment? How did Malevich and Khlebnikov work with and against conventional taste to revolutionize Futurist art?