Venice (RUS)

Viktor Misiano
Text from the catalogue "La Biennale di Venezia 1995. Padiglione Russo"

Originally, the curatorial idea of the present project set the condition that the three artists from Moscow- Evgeny Asse (b. 1946), Dimitri Gutov (b. 1960) and Vadim Fishkin (b. 1965) - were to work jointly on a mutual project instead of representing their individual works of art. The work on the project ended up in a long discussion focused on a number of problems, set forward by the conditions of the work itself, i.e. to a possibility create a project at the Venice Biennale inside the Russian Pavilion. What kind of subject in fact should be exhibited? What are the todays boundaries of the phenomenon of art? What are the functions of an author exhibited? Or else, could a single artist's values represent those of a nation? What are the project's exhibiting possibilities capable of nowadays? Or, putting it differently, does the language of art express somewhat universal values?
In course of the work various emerging versions of the project were being discussed. It was suggested to represent a pavilion as a huge information stand on Russian art, or else to use video clips, television programs, etc., that is materials representing new Russian mass culture. Another version addressed a somewhat common metaphor for contemporary Russia and suggested to organize a pavilion exhibiting documents on a gigantic financial "fraud" of the joint-stock company ^MMM" and the fabulous adventures of its president Sergei Mavrodi. Yet another idea included a set of chauvinistic commercials produced by the financial company "Hermes" constituted another metaphor for the project. There were a number of other versions including an idea to leave a pavilion completely empty or to make it hypothetically explode. In course of their work the authors of the project could not help addressing the issues that in fact shaped the previous year - the war in Chechnya, scandalous political assassinations, social and economic chaos, etc.
Appreciation of the valuable experience of the work on the project itself under the conditions when an artistic consciousness is completely incapable of synthesizing any experience and to identify its values has become a major artistic result of these cooperative efforts. The first room has become the representational space where all the versions worked out in the course of the year have been shown as well as the materials that reflect the life of the previous year spent in discussion of a future project. The project that has finally been chosen to be shown in the central hall does not follow any program. The newsreel tells us about the edifices that over the centuries has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt at one and the same place downtown Moscow. This truthful story obviously illustrates a cyclical and self-contained nature of the Russian history, with its evident tendency for destruction and utopia. The action to collect money for the artificial reason that took place in the last exhibition hall also reflects the present situation, where collecting money is a logical metaphor for todays Russia, and an appeal for artificial reason is also an obvious metaphor for the undestroyable Russian Transcendentalism and Idealism. The view of the Venice Lagoon from the balcony of the pavilion, and Ivan Fadeev whistling a "Song of Naples" by Tchaikovsky - a fragment of the newsreel released in 1932 that the authors of the project have found in the process of the work has a certain kind of authenticity within the boundaries of the project. For a more authentic effect the authors mailed an inquiry to the Volokolamsk local archives to obtain the birth and probable death certificates of the unknown "whistler". They have not heard from the archives yet, though, in fact, it is not of significant importance; neither is the fact that the name of the work ^Reason is Something the World Must Obtain whether it Wants to or Not" is quoted from Karl Marx'.

Victor Misiano