by Douglas Messserli
At the café, Arkadii introduced me to several young poets and to two young curators, husband and wife, who were planning a large international retrospective of contemporary artists. When I told them of my companion, Howard's involvement with art, they immediately responded, "Oh yes, we know of him. We have his Robert Longo catalogue. Yes, we want definitely to include Robert Longo in our show." I grew interested, and we discussed several other artists they hoped to include, often asking me what these people were like to work with. "That, I wouldn't know, except for hearsay. Robert, I believe, is usually a sweetheart."
Despite the apparent restriction of Soviet tourist hotels for Russian citizens, poet-friend Arkadii Dragomoschenko joined us each day at dinner in the hotel dining room. His company was a joyful one, and he kept us abreast of Russian events and traditions. Clark Coolidge, Lyn, and I talked with Arkadii everyday on various subjects. I particularly remember when the conversation turned to Women's Liberation, which was dismissed out of hand by both Arkadii and his wife, Zina. "We want to be pampered and not have to work," she declared.
Reprinted from Green Integer Blog (March 2010).