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Vika Adutova - A Game in Hell - All

Glossary for a Game in Hell


Poetry book, edition of 12 plus artist's proof, 14 x 20cm, 24 pages.
Installation with video (13:27:00) and sound (42:25:00)

The publication was made as a part of the residency at PRAKSIS, Oslo, For a Rainy Day - Publishing as a Site of Collectivisation. During the course of the residency our group had a chance to work with Guttormsgaards Arkiv, where I discovered the original 1914 print of a Russian poem book A Game in Hell.

A Game in Hell was a collaborative project between poets Alexander Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov, and artist Olga Rozanova. The original book was made out of bound lithograph prints. The plot of the poem is built around a card game between the devils and the human souls in what is, presumably, hell.

Working in collaboration with poet Gleb Simonov we considered the grotesque, kitschy, and satiric tone of the poem to pick 22 words from the poem and write a short poem for each of those words, placing them in a contemporary context. The result is the book — a collection of 22 cards with short free verse stanza on each.

The Glossary for a Game in Hell can be read as a literary work, and it is also a game:

The cards can be used to tell fortune. In case of a political or social question, simply pick one of the cards at random. The card would tell you a prophecy that would not make sense for 100 years.

— Excerpt from the introduction

In the exhibition, the book was shown in an installation setting with the video of the original book (flipping through every page) as recorded at Guttormsgaards Arkiv, and an audio recording of the original poem in Russian.


Vika Adutova - A Game in Hell - 01
Vika Adutova - A Game in Hell - 02


We share the atmosphere. Parts and the whole.
May I borrow the dust from your bookshelf?


By the field and the lake,
by the yellowish service light,
by the roads and the tracks
onto the desolate grounds it floats.

Smoothly and quietly,

by the field and the lake it floats,
by the roads and the tracks and light it floats.


The answer is lacking.

Somewhere in Central Asia the fire cozily crackles under a tandoor with homemade bread.


The tranquil tin.

Lay not ungentle – these
are governed not by weight,
but chance.




Making the iron move –
simply through being there.

Much like a witness.