LEV BORISOVICH KAMENEV
A member of the party from 1901 and a member of the Politburo from 1917. He was condemned in the first of the show trials of senior Communist Party members at the start of the Great Purge. He was shot in 1936. (Beard.)(Asleep.)
This text by William Kentridge appears alongside the illustration of this print in William Kentridge Nose: Thirty Etchings, edited by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen and published by David Krut Publishing in 2010.
Nose 17, Nose 18, Nose 19, Nose 20 and Nose 21 form a miniature narrative of their own within the suite of etchings. Each print is a portrait with the face of the sitter removed in some way. In his text for each print, Kentridge provides information about who the sitter could be, although the face is not visible, playing on the common practice of erasing people from photographs that Kentridge refers to in his text that accompanies Nose 17:
“In the 1920s, Trotsky was airbrushed out of all photographs that showed him with Lenin. We are by now so familiar with this emblematic erasure of history that in all the group photos of Soviet luminaries, we look for or anticipate the absent figure in the crowd, a spirit of Elijah, at the table but invisible. We glance over the rows of sleek faces, but are entranced more by what or who is not there than by what we see.”