Tengri Umai gallery (within ARTBAT FEST 3, Almaty)
09 May – 09 June
Marking the change of times, the Pprofessors’ installations have begun sporadically showing up in different cities of Russia since the turn of the century, always stirring up a wide range of strong reaction from childish delight to angry protests. It was even sometimes curious to observe how the piece, which had a purely designer-artistic expression, could conjure up such a barrage of passion and controversy around it. The creators never positioned their art as sharp social or political critique and have always responded to any proposals, from private or state organizations, and have declared as a priority a service model of cooperation they call “Designer-Customer.” This position is non-controversial as the actual order was never articulated as ideological. Rather, organizers of one public initiative or another have asked them to create something “bright, modern, understandable and appropriate to the times.” All artistic decisions were thus left to the artists. The remonstrative emotions were increasingly associated with changes on a symbolic level since its visual intrusion into a public space was seen by the conservative block of the electorate as a threat to tradition of what a city sculpture, monument or art should be. These notions were tied not only to the aesthetics, but also to the heroic style and its pantheon. The Professors’ sculptures were fundamentally non-heroic, leveling the spirit of the monument into children’s block toys that could transform into any object in the world when needed. Within this versatility was something of the experience of production design in the 20’s-30’s, whose task included not only serving needs, but also social engineering and the change of man.
The new project will continue along this line while also aiming at a deeper objective: through city toponymy, the architectural décor, graphic visual signs, and conventional icons, to make alter ego assessment of the changes in the former Soviet Union. The subject and person conducting the project becomes the conditional character “ANONYMOUS,” reminiscent of both the garden and decoratives sculptures from Soviet times, the characters in Malevich’s paintings, and a basic, anonymous user pic from an online social network. The exhibition space was built as an interactive game, where city residents and the audience can be a contributor and character in the project. To do so he must have the will and determination to take personal responsibility for the unvirtualization and transformation of an anonymous personality in person. The tools used for this work were quite affordable: colored markers and a questionnaire. Sculptures, items, and color textures presented in the gallery are tied to the narration and sum up the artists’ observations of visual signs. Just like the Pprofessor's love, the color scheme is based on an exact combination of bright primary colors: black, white, yellow, and magenta. From the entrance, the bright color of the yellow “sun” circle strikes the eye (one of the favorite colors of the Stalinist Empire). On the background, there is a huge impressive star that looks like it was borrowed from the architectural décor of one of the city’s buildings. But it no longer hovers above the Earth, but is removed from the pedestal and is just leaning against the wall. The movement towards it from the entrance is underlined by a line made up of the large-scale sculptures of “Anonymous” on the colored pedestals that are vaguely reminiscent of the “Alley of Heroes.” These are the new characters that will soon show up and discover their face. As epics are taught in every country, the hero’s way is a path of tests. Reaching the sunny circle, the audience (and future hero) is “blinded” from its bright light and falls into a “twilight zone,” where hypnotizing round spirals are slowly rotating and soft music can be heard. The sound comes from inside a small, black double housing, which is unpleasantly disturbing when approached. This temptation to approach the edge of the “dark consciousness” is attractive and destructive as the checkered floor from Lynch’s Twin Peaks or the unforgiving planet from Trier’s Melancholia. It is here, alone, that a single colored “Anonymous” is located in a black terrorist mask, who crossed the twilight border and remained an antihero and anonymous. The travels of the hero, who chose the “light side” (Star Wars), are completed at “dawn” on a light grey wall, covered in graffiti about his travels and deeds and which are being endlessly drawn, washed off and started again. The hero’s choice is always to be on the right path and be responsible for yourself and the world around you.
Curated by Dmitriy Pilikin (Russia).