IN ENGLISH
RUSSIAN POVERA. An exhibition of contemporary art. A Sergey Gordeev Project

RUSSIAN POVERA
A SERGEY GORDEEV PROJECT

RIVER STATION HALL
ORDZHONIKIDZE St. 2, PERM
SEPTEMBER 25, 2008

CURATOR - MARAT GUELMAN
Artists

Nikolay Polissky


More than ten years ago, Nikolay Polissky as then a Moscow member of the artist group Mit'ki held his last exhibition at the Central House of Artists, afterwards trading in his tools of an ardent painter for what French theorists call "relational aesthetics." He built a house in the village of Nikola-Lenivets two hundred kilometers away from Moscow and now, along with the residents of the village, makes snowmen, builds palaces out of firewood, pyramids out of hay, and towers out of vines. Thanks to "relational aesthetics," the inhabitants of a forsaken village found something to do, started making money.



 


Polissky the artist discovered art as a communal activity and fun collective enterprise. In one concrete village, he brought to life the utopia of free labor not alienated from man. Now, the whole world knows that Nikola-Lenivets is a Russian village where the folk element of unreflexive creation triumphs, and the simple Russian man awoken by art rejoices.

Alexander Evangely




Nikolay Polissky. Firewood
2001.
Environmental installation, dimensions vary
Nikola-Lenivets village





Nikolay Polissky. Likhoborsky Gate
2005.
Environmental installation on the Likhoborka River, dimensions vary





Nikolay Polissky. Borders of the Empire
2007.
Environmental installation, dimensions vary
Nikola-Lenivets village









Nikolay Polissky: Our country lacks common sense, but it is very big, and I feel that things for my people should be big. In order to do everything on a large scale, one needs large amounts of material. My peasants cannot buy expensive wood boards - therefore we use a crooked stick. Snow, hay, firewood, vines, with which all of our fields are overgrown. Or dead elms - a wonderful material. When we find a lot of material, we walk around happy. A feast of thoughts begins in my head right away as to what can be done with this material.

Whatever it is has to be pathos-filled, so that it would have the air of the eternal, like architecture, like a ziggurat. No one knows, what kind of ziggurat it is, but the respect towards pyramids, towards constructions that have large bases - therein lays the pathos of turning to history. The form has to speak about something weighty.

What is important is the interaction of thought, material, and money. The idea has to be so large that the cost of the material would fade against that background.

What we can do is not get hung up on the material, but present the entirety of our bitter life in this. The way all these sticks lay strewn about, rotting, so too do our people. What would these guys do otherwise? Something awful. In the best scenario, they would go work as guards or cops, but even then, they get fired.

Before, some community would create truth for others, but now, blacks and Eskimos alike make everything only for tourist consumption. Traditions have degenerated everywhere from the far north to the far south. In our village, no one will make a scythe, or weave a basket, not even to mention a weaver's loom. Fellas have nothing to occupy themselves - only drink vodka, that's it. They live in the village, marry broads from Moscow sometimes, but it all ends badly. It's rare that anyone turns into a normal average Joe.


May be I too, had I not ended up in a certain environment, would not have known what to do with myself. One has to help them. I am, of course, a little afraid - after all, I lure them after me, seduce them. Like before when they would teach serfs to be musicians, artists - and then it's back to the cow barn.

Their relatives put pressure on them, want them to do something normal, have a job. But they run away anyway - because in this, there is a feeling of flight that does not exist anywhere over there. They are broad guys; it's easier for them to do something big rather than putter around

They are very receptive. They understand in an instant; how - I don't know, there aren't such words, after all, with which one could truly explain an idea to them. Plus it's not interesting that they should only make what I draw for them; one wants to be surprised by something. And they surprise. Right now they are making small-scale objects, small-scale sculpture - we call them toys or furniture. They do everything faultlessly - each in his own way, but within a plastic unity, a common style has been worked out.

Brutality, crudeness - I am also learning that from them. I can see, after all, how careless a Russian person is when he is relaxed - he takes a big old hammer, axe, or sledge - and starts plopping it down every which way. There is something in this recklessness of character, and we aestheticize this.

Of course, he won't be able to stand at a conveyor belt and make Mercedes cars - he'll do something different. "Poor" art, for instance. In general, we are, after all, a poor people; what other kind of art can we be making? It's not as if I'm some kind of nationalist; I'm not saying that we are the best. What we are, we are, and one has to use what he has - material, mentality, character.


SELECTED SOLO AND GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2008 Russian Povera. Project by Sergey Gordeev. Curator - Marat Guelman. Rechnoi Vokzal, Perm
2006 Fire taming or Russian cosmism (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts and German Vinogradov). Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluzhsky region
Park for one day (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). In the framework of the competition of V. Potanin Changing museum in the changing world, Voskresensk, Moscow region
2005 Baikonur (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). In the framework 1 Moscow Biennale of contemporary Art, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Hill-labyrinth (together with Alexander Panov and NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts ). ArtKliazma Festival, in the framework of 1 Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow region
Likhoborsky Gate (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts and Galina Likhterova). Moscow
2004 Pancake week (together with German Vinogradov, Alexander Shaburov and inhabitants of Nikola-Lenivets village). Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluzhsky region
Art-Market II (together with Alexander Panov and NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). ArtKliazma Festival, Moscow region
Towers. Regional Museum of Dimitrovograd, Dimitrovograd; Ulyanovsk Regional Museum of Folk Art, Ulyanovsk
Light Tower on Ugra River (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluzhsky region
Light Tower on Ugra River II (together with Viacheslav Mizin, Alexander Panov, Asya Silaeva, Konstantin Skotnikov and Alexander Shaburov). Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluzhsky region
Nizhegorodsky Hill (together with Alexander Panov, NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts and Cultural Capital of Povolzhie Foundation). Nizhniy Novgorod
2003 Media Tower (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluzhsky region; Art-Moscow workshop, Central House of artist, Moscow; Neue Ansatze / Zeitgenossische Kunst aus Moskau, Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf
Art-Market (together with Alexander Panov and NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). ArtKliazma Festival, Moscow region
Empire Column (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). Art-Manezh 2003, Manezh Central Exhibition Hall, Moscow


 

2002 Russian photography exhibition on the booth of arre Noir, Paris Photo-2002, Paris
Contemporary Russian Photography. Second International Photography festival PRO Zrenie, Nizhny Novgorod
Drovnik (together with NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluzhsky region; IV International month of Photography in Moscow Photobiennale 2002, Manezh central Exhibition Hall, Moscow; Art-Moscow workshop, Central House of artist, Moscow
Tower (together with Konstantin Batynkov and NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). De Moscou, Center of Contemporary Art Quartier, France
Column of a Grape tree (together with Mikhail Bulanenkov). Est-Ouest Festival, Die, France
Picturesque Tower (together with Alexander Panov). Art-Manezh 2003, Manezh central Exhibition Hall, Moscow
2001 Tower (together with Konstantin Batynkov and NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). Art-Moscow, Central House of Artist, Moscow
2000 Snowmen (together with Konstantin Batynkov, Sergey Lobanov and NP Nikola-Lenivets crafts). Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluzhsky region; Art-Moscow, Central House of Artist, Moscow
1999 Manilovsky project (together with Konstantin Batynkov and Sergey Lobanov). Toko-Tower, Moscow
The Cathedral of Lonely Reflection (together with Konstantin Batynkov and Sergey Lobanov). In the framework of the action Manilovsky project, M. Guelman Gallery, Moscow
1997 Vodka (as a part of Mitki group). M. Guelman Gallery, Moscow
Vodka (as a part of Mitki group). Moscow Forum of Art Initiatives, New Manezh, Moscow
Mitki to Navy (as a part of Mitki group). Central Navy Museum, St Petersburg
Mitki. The General Headquarter (as a part of Mitki group). Action on Gogolevsky Boulevard, Moscow
The Mitkovsky Christmas Tree. New Year Holiday in Manezhnaya Square, Moscow
1996 Mitki. Art-Russia, Central House of Artist, Moscow
1995-1996 How to draw the horse. Manezh Sokoros, Central House of Artist, Moscow
1993 Mitki. The retrospection dedicated to 10th anniversary of the movement. State Russian Museum, St Petersburg
1990 The logic of paradox (as a part of Mitki group). The Palace of Youth, Moscow
1989 Mitki in Europe (as a part of Mitki group). Cologne; Paris



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