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.
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.
Packing for a trip reveals how artist equipment categories are aligned and indicate changes in praxis. I have music instruments in one pouch, mineral water making tools in an other and electronics in the third. Some items are difficult to place.. Where do the capacitors I’ve build using mineral water belong to?
Kim Modig & Marina Valle Noronha‘s Art Off The Air (AOTA) (2019) is an audio piece about art and energy (or lack of it). I like the style of the work, the glitchy audio gaps and the boldly disruptive techniques they use to create an inspirational space for the listener. The work asks an important question: “What kind of lifestyles does our art produce” and calls for de-growth (or de-acceleration) within the arts. Their proposal is that artists should do less to combat consumerism. I agree with their proposal wholeheartedly. But I do think de-growth should not be demanded equally from all artists or arts, because this would hinder the constant reconfiguration and circulation of economical / social classes. Processes in structural change should take into account the demands different artworks place on their surroundings: Material artworks reserve more stuff then skill sharing. This argument is an adaptation of the critique of extreme taxation of flights and meat industries: Extreme taxation would reserve these “pleasures” only for the mega-rich (which is a dystopian reality by all accounts). I think a great model for change is the way value added taxes are designed. For prints and paintings the tax is 9% and 0% for performing arts! Perhaps in addition arts should be taxed using a progressive scale?
Mira Kautto has shared a collection of art grant applications and proposals online. I think this is a great gesture!
Onyx Ashanti is an afrofuturist working to reprogram himself. His video entries give me weird-sad-hope:
Perhaps I’ll survive not getting a grant (applied for 108 000€ from Kone to finish the Trans-Horse project and didn’t get it). I’m seriously looking for work thou.
I’m not flossing, I’m just not cold. That’s cool and I’m cool with that. That’s a kind of freshness in itself. That’s dope. Not being cold during a polar vortex is very dope but being dope in a polar vortex is the mothershit. I’d love to explore it.
I’m preparing for a month lon trip to Russia. The Alkovi “In Various Stages of Ruins” -group includes (2018-19): Elina Vainio, Matti Kunttu, Iona Rosin and Katja Kalinainen. The project is organized by Arttu Merimaa & Miina Hujala. Other artists from Finland will also join in on different segments of the trip and their works will be presented in screenings / exhibitions on the way. The train from Helsinki leaves 2.9. I’ll give a presentation on mineral waters at Fabrika (Moscow) on 4.9 and later in Vladivostok. During the trip we’ll visit Ekaterinburg for the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art and Novosibirsk. I won’t have access to the internet on the train but I plan to write posts, which I’ll publish en masse once I get to a wifi.
The performances I’ll present illustrate how mineral waters are formed as rain passes through the soil and how different waters affect our bodies. The characteristics of different waters will be explored using electronic gadgets, anecdotes and by preparing a batch of mineral water for consumption. I’ve build a eurorack module for the occasion. It is a Simple EQ / Baxandall EQ module, which I’ve made as a trough hole unit and modified by adding switches and female pin headers, so that I can swap capacitors used in the original circuit.
I’ve build capacitors which use mineral water as the conductive material and plastic balloons as the non-conducting substance (dielectric). The capacitors have different architectures and shapes: A component which is made from a balloon (filled with 10ml water) inside a balloon (filled with 10ml water), shows as a ~3000pf capacitor. A component which is constructed from a balloon (filled with 10ml water and 10g copper) and a jar (with 20ml water), shows as a 12nf capacitor if its charged with a 9v battery for 10 sek. A component which has two spiraling compartments, shows as a 40pf cap. etc. Measurements vary and I guess the capacitance changes over time as the electrolytes in the salty water run out.
The EQ’s treble setting shows a notable difference when a capacitor is swapped. Unfortunately the change in the nature of audio passed trough the circuit is non-spectacular (my water capacitors behave as normal capacitors). But it is intriguing to use water as an electronic component! I’ve also build a nifty eurorack case for the trip (I’ll share the design later). The 84hp skiff has laser-engraved Byzantine ornaments and maps form our groups previous trips to Russia. The inside of the case lid shows module schematics (for debugging) and a manual for the Expert Sleepers Disting MK4 unit. The case also has pictures from different water based parasites a illustrations. I’ll laser cut the panels for the module tomorrow. The panels also have inserts for the 4,45mm jars I use for the water caps.