The Ugly Swans

Initially “The Ugly Swans” ( was conceived as a staging of the novel by Strugatsky brothers, famous Russian sci-fi writers, in form of a visual blog. This partly autobiographical novel tells us about a writer who came to a private school for unusually developed children. Their isolation is supported by a legend of an incurable illness that their teachers suffer. The teachers are locally called “mokretsy” (The wet ones; also unpleasant insects), which in Russian sounds similar to “mudresty”, the wise ones. In the end of the novel the children leave their parents and society for good.

It is considered that in “The Ugly Swans” Strugatsky brothers give their version of the communist utopia which is only possible through the break-up with the old world where the iniquity passes from generation to generation. And only the world of the unusually developed children, in which even there wise teachers cannot enter in the end, is able to grow to the humanity's bright future.

But quite soon this blog turned into an independent narrative which actually serves as a reference book for my personal art projects. There are visual materials on Soviet space program, museums of cosmonautics, architecture and the art of Soviet modernism of 60ies to 80ies, the philosophy of Russian cosmism and the left accelerationism. The most of the photos are found on the internet, others are made by me, some a parts of my personal art projects.

Arseny Zhilyaev