A reader who knows a thing or two about the Russian Orthodox church gets in touch to tell me that my hunch about the two black-clad trendies alongside Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk in the photograph below was correct. They are indeed beatniks. By allowing their goatee beards to grow into more flourishing hairiness, swapping their berets for those big weird hats, and shadowing the Metropolitan wherever he roams, the pair are engaging in a performance art intervention praxis. Dmitri and Serge (for it is they) are legendary cats on the Russian Orthodox beatnik scene, best known for their jazz, their existentialist pretensions, and their French cigarettes. They have been performing their praxis for the past year, seldom letting the beardy Smolenskian out of their sight, much as ex-UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar was pursued for years, and interrupted at press conferences, by nitwits convinced he had been abducted by aliens in Manhattan in 1989.
Dmitri and Serge are guarded about how long they intend to continue haunting Metropolitan Kirill. If asked, by art students and the like, they offer only dismissive guttural noises designed to be enigmatic. They have, however, issued a Dmitri & Sergeâ€™s Praxis Manifesto, written in blitheringly difficult prose, which you can if you wish pore over in your local arts pod reading resource capsule.
If we’re talking about Praxis, I should like to see them remaking Basil and Guido’s Kropotkin Fanfaronade. How poignant, how resonant, would that be?
R : I fear Dmitri and Serge are practitioners far more intense than Basil and Guido ever were, and would view their work as hopelessly trivial and indeed bourgeois.
Dmitri seems to be in awe of Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk’s pippy bag while Serge looks as if his winkle-pickers are giving him gip…