VIBE Russian Art Show
Louise T Blouin Institute, London
Curator: Victoria Golembiovskaya
Theoretically, presentation is dictated by the exhibition space. Yet soulless, white-walled showrooms are quite unsuitable for exhibitions and can be fatal for art itself – everything seems ripped out of context and devoured by neutral white space. We need a different sort of exhibition environment: one with a harmonious atmosphere that places works within a broader context. VIBE is a prototype of this sort of environment.
The interior exhibition space is organized traditionally. Down below: Water – a netherworld with its own deep, soothing force. Water is the mother of Earth, from which all life derives. It is life’s Past. Its Present resides within the temple of modernity, where the altar offers up the possibility of communicating with the transcendental. Above this comes a higher, sacred space, a kind of portal through which one can ascend to Heaven.
Individual works, sending out their own vibrations, come together to form a single picture representing a specifically Russian, or Eastern, idea of the Sacred. Western society has become more secular; sacred space has been “conquered” and can no longer stir up fear and trembling.
This exhibition can be considered as a single installation, immersing visitors in an underlying spirituality, with the waters of secrets and the vibrations of the sacred.
Contemporary art is sacred for Western man. Monumental events – Christo’s wrapping of the Reichstag, for instance – are like latter-day medieval pilgrimages, uniting millions of people with the same impulse, spurning the comforts of Western society and sleeping on the ground. Just as we speak about representation in contemporary art, we can speak about the possibility of mapping out sacred spaces, or hierotopy.
Alexander Ponomarev's video installation Narcissus, based on the familiar myth of a man so faultlessly beautiful that he kept searching for his own image in the water, reveals the interaction of fluid and surface. It also broaches the categories of Time, because the river into which Narcissus peers is the River of Time. Narcissus is looking at the Present – separated from the Past and Future by a mere ripple.
Searching for one’s own image, or soul, is like searching for paradise, whether Eden or Sukhavati. Hermes Zygott's light-box installation is based on old, badly damaged Orthodox icons beyond repair. These reanimated, re-painted, sacred objects are printed on light-boxes that change color simultaneously, and are presented within a black marquee.
Icons depend on the sacredness of their surroundings and how they are honored. If a layer of the icon’s image is understood as the icon's conscience, then the panel becomes its subconscious, imprinted with the events of the human subconscious. In other words, the icon painter invests it with all of his own internal impulses arising from the depths of his subconscious. He thus makes a humble confession before the icon and, in this way, the sacred body of the icon becomes impregnated with the inner substance of a man practicing his religion.
Light is both an installation and object, generating its own homogenous space and field of radiation. If we talk about an image of light, we are talking above all about a beam dispatched into a dark space, slicing through it. In churches, in certain conditions, we see shafts of light streaming down from the arches. In the forest we can see slanting rays of sunlight peeping through the leaves, or suddenly emerging through fog or dust. This is a drawing-out and abstracting of this fundamental, primary element of life: a demonstration of the might of Apollo… a poetic gesture taken to the limit, as when Vereshchagin began painting only portraits of the Sun itself. “Light” belongs to the category of ingenious things that aim to imagine the impossible.
Pleroma (from the Greek Πλήρωμα, meaning fullness or multitude) denotes an understanding of Gnostic philosophy based on heavenly spiritual beings and zones. It is a realm similar to a palisade: a border between our world and a higher plane where God delivers pronouncements. It is its own type of optical lens or show-window, displaying information from above. These higher beings are not able to pass on information to us directly, and we do not have the power to apprehend it. For this, there exists a system of "translation": Pleroma.
This work derives from a vision of this realm and the special signs within it. These are the primary semantic designs seen in meditation. Above all, the Anufriev's Pleroma installation appeals to a basic level of consciousness – awareness of ideas and communication. After answering the initial question What is represented? certain patterns begin to form, composed of various elements. Each pattern is the start of forming a sentence – the basic element on which vocabulary, grammar and syntax are built.
Sergei Bugaev Afrika & Sergei Anufriev
“This work was created entirely spontaneously – the result of a happening,” reveals Anufriev. It turned out so well because it is rooted in its actuality, in its changing structure. Afrika and I were walking around the VDNKh exhibition park in Moscow, and climbed up the monument of the Worker & Kolkhoznitsa [female collective-farm worker]. We discovered a door between the kolkhoznitsa’s legs, found a ladder and, after managing to get inside the sculpture after a heroic effort, broke the door off of its hinges. It came crashing down and we carried it off like a trophy back to St Petersburg.
The monument served as the basis for our theories of “Donaldestruction.” The door into the kolkhoznitsa was like the hymen of Mother Earth. Tearing it from its hinges was like marking the end of the sacredness of the USSR, and the opening of the sacred in the wider world. There are common roots of a worldwide system of what we would call “the sacred,” because in every society we find sacred symbols that influence mass consciousness, whether they be Lenin or Mickey Mouse.
VIBE Special Events
Introductory premiere of Hermes Zygott’s (the founding member of the Orchestra of Unknown Instruments (ONI) Modern version of 'Monteverde vespro di Santa Maria' 1610 which will be staged at le Châtelet Theater de Paris.
Documentary translations about 'I believe' show curated by Oleg Kulik at the Vinzavod Gallery in Moscow as a part of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. Some think the show was among the most important exhibits of contemporary art since the Soviet collapse. The exhibit aimed to recover a sense of belief or faith from what he calls the dogmatic contexts of communism and religion.