Leaving Kazan the hotel receptionist asked “How was your life?”. Arrived to Yekaterinburg by night train. Made some recordings of howling wind songs the train movement produced. They felt inviting. Funny stories were told on the way but what do they mean? What are funny stories as a praxis? Comfort or avoidance? Pondering about an artistic research method which would simultaneously engage, question and reflect (like a performance does). Our groups constant chattering feels like such but not a lot of notes are being made. Perhaps we are constantly fabulating an oral account of the trip.
Yesterday we saw a girl galloping from east, past the Vadim Sidur museum towards the center. The horse was a peasant breed and moved effortlessly along the tram tracks. The riders backpack had a flower pattern. Today we are drinking fermented horse milk in Kazan. We arrived in a open cabin night train, where the distance between our faces from the feet of other passengers was less then 10cm. Everyone in the train was at their peak performance, no disturbances at all. People timed their actions (packing and unpacking) perfectly and touched each other’s gently when passing.
We visited Sidurs museum to see Alexey Buldakov’s exhibition, which was organized as a part of the Mmoma artist placement project (they show contemporary art in old museums). Buldakovs exhibition offered a text citing Serres (parasites) and a shit-optical graffiti machine, in the form of a heated seating structure for pigeons. The shape of the structure invited pigeons to sit in such an arrangements, that their droppings would form words on the ground below. The shape we saw projected the text “peace”. The copper pipings, which positioned the birds to form the letters, were heated with water from a computer cooling system. The computer was mining for bitcoins (leaching on museum energy supply).
The exhibition offered snippets of everything we learned of his practice the day before. And extras like birds painted in watercolors and thermal imaging projections. For most of us, the shape of the pigeon seating machine would have been enough (without out the mining, heating etc. processes).
Our group discussed the maximalism of the exhibition as a feature of Russian art. In discussions we sympathized with Buldakov’s attempt to include everything into the display (he was “pulling all treads together”, Elina noted). I feel that opportunities to exhibit are rare, so I maximize the work to make. This maximalism could also be understood as an attempt to forge a narrative, which could account for the current, absurd state of affairs (The need to craft narratives was present in Vilnius too).
Maximalism could be the aesthetics of inclusivity. The museum displays here in Kazan (we visited National Museum of the Republic of Kazan) are jam-packed with stuff, ancient tools, gems etc. from every branch of social life and every historical phase of the territory. Something specific for every-specific-body. Maximalizing is a strategy for reaching out to diverse audiences.
Russians seem to manifest a strong believe in new construction materials and technology. Window frames are attached using blobs of sikaflex. Polyurethane is not cut into shape and covered with panels. The polyurethane blobs show progress: We have the new means, nails are for medieval times, our bonds are chemical.
Toxic Bodies and Alien Agencies – Ecocritical perspectives on ecological others (2017) Serpil Oppermann. A text imagining and exploring “[…] how ecological otherness results from the forces of global capitalism that create trajectories of environmental pollution extending into every metabolic system […]”, among other things. Oppermann notes authors Latife Tekin and Richard Powers as artists who have explored the transformative qualities of toxicity.
In the current social (and environmental) moment, the body is a local text of global contexts, becoming an ecological other through the forces of global capitalism that create trajectories of environmental contamination extended into every metabolic system. The body, then, is an embodiment of toxification of biomes and ecosystems, and thus enacts the ecology of the world, which is, as geographer David Demeritt puts it, “inseparable from the world-shaping network of social practices.”
Nonhuman bodies, too, incontestably suffer, perhaps even more intensely, the effects of unpredictable material agencies, and of human exploitative practices, emissions, and climate change. It is well known that within the regulatory practices many nonhuman bodies are “tailored to fit . . . market slots.” […] Hence, becoming maps of contamination, human and nonhuman bodies increasingly reflect this dynamic process in illness, toxicity, and hybridity, and need to be examined from a perspective that acknowledges the complicity of toxic forces and practices in perpetuating ecological otherness.
Our one night exhibition “In Various Stages of Ruins” at the ASI space in Fabrika felt like a success. The space, which was sort of hidden inside the old industrial complex managed to pull in a reasonable crowd. The audience was young, curious and people wanted to from relationships with the works. Miina and Arttu installed an image by Sauli Sirviö on the floor, cave exploration photos by Jussi Kivi on the wall and presented videoworks by Anni Puolakka and Maija Timonen. Elina presented a letter canvas (she’ll continue with the work on our train ride), Iona showed videos using a mobile phone as a screen and I made a 15min presentation about mineral waters. After the show I was asked: “When you described how rain corrodes the face of a marble statue and how the water then retains a memory of this encounter, where you talking about the metaphysical quality of the statue or the physical changes in the mineral composition of the water? Or are you taking about the negative space of the sculpture being filled with content?” We ended the evening by visiting Alexey Buldakov studios, which were located in the same complex, for a miniature after party with fun people.
Moscow feels and looks great. People look energetic and fresh, the subway runs smooth and is intuitive to use. The city feels spacious.