The multifaceted Russian author, singer, and actress Nataliia Medvedeva’s (1958–2003) creative output was synonymous with performance. Her image became iconic in worldwide popular culture as the carefree, smiling young woman on the cover of the New Wave rock group “The Cars”’s eponymous 1978 album. Then Medvedeva was twenty years old and had been living in the United States for about three years; she returned to Russia in 1994 after nineteen years abroad, mainly in the US and France, and died at the age of forty-four, possibly of a fatal mixture of alcohol and tranquilizers. By the time of her death, Medvedeva—author, poet, journalist, singer, musician, model, and designer—was, and remains, an enigmatic yet colourful figure of the Russian émigré and post-Soviet literary, music, and cultural scenes. From an early age in Leningrad, she showed an aptitude for constructing performance and (re)presenting herself. This article suggests that Medvedeva used her early autobiographical writing as a method of thinking through her ideas and beliefs about the nature of performance, especially as it related to perceptions of the sexual, sexuality, and shocking-ness, as well as to the relationship between the audience and herself, indeed, between society and the self. To support my thesis, I focus, in particular, on her autobiographical novel Liubov' s alkogolem [Drunk Love, 1987?, 1995, 2001], as well as foundational ideas from the field of performance studies.
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