As diverse a group of artists as the countries of the Baltic Rim are being brought together by another artist, Jude Cowan Montague, for a group exhibition in London in the last week of January of 2020. All of them have something in common: a connection or an inspiration that has come from the region. Artists from Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Russia and France are tracing their memories and visions, and bringing them together in one space.
I was showing my installation dedicated to my city of birth Saint Petersburg. I grew up on the Gulf of Finland and the delta of the river Neva with the backdrops of the settings of St. Petersburg, a city that changed its name more than once. Perhaps because of this I learned not to form attachments to the names given, but rather to look for and to attune to the essence of the place.
Passing By. Sky. 2020, Installation with projectors and sails.
An exhibition dedicated to the modern time Ulysses – Lafkadio Hearn, the exhibition curated by Maria Papatzelou opened at Thessaloniki Art Week 2018. It since was shown at the Embassy of Japan in L in June on 2019, and is being transferred to Kobe, Japan in August 2019. My piece Befogged is shown there, as a moving image in Greece, and as a digital photograph at the Kobe Municipal Art Centre. Digital print version of this work received Mayor of Kobe Prize in August 2019.
One of the events of the 2019 Venice Biennale went largely unnoticed. Apart from a few hundred city visitors that happened to find themselves at the Piazza di San Marco on the late morning of May 9, and one random tourist who actively objected to the action, few others were aware of the happening.
Manifesto of Presentism, art action. Veronica Shimanovskaya. Piazza di San Marco. 9 May, 2019. Video documentation courtesy of India Roper-Evans.
In the midst of pre-biannual festivities and two days before the official opening of major exhibitions, on the 74th Anniversary of V-Day (as it’s celebrated in Russia), and about 110 years after a similar event happened at the same place, a few handfuls of leaflets containing a message of love and awareness were launched from the top of San Marco Campanile. Marinetti style.
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, a well known poet and an ideologue of the Futurist Movement, hurled his Futurist Manifesto from San Marco Campanile a year after it was published in the Figaro in 1909. It embodied the attitude and pathos of the future 20th century that had recently begun.
Eleven points of the Manifesto sung “the love of danger,” “the punch and the slap,” “the beauty of speed,” “the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth,” while “…glorify[ing] war — the world’s only hygiene — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.” It promised to “…destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, […] fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice,” and pledged ‘defiance to the stars’. Sounds familiar?
The militant hubris of the thirty-three year old man was indeed a manifestation of that time in human history that knew little of the horrors of revolutions, world wars, and mass murders on an industrial scale. The 20th century of two world wars, the atomic bomb, and consumerist societies followed. That pathos and attitude picked up from the poetics of the early industrial era landed us where we are now: in a dehumanized environment of insatiable corporate greed, senseless economic expansion, soil and air pollution, refugees crisis, the rise of right-wing politics, and emerging realization of our responsibility for what has happened to us.
That realization as much as any inspired a counter manifesto, or better yet a proclamation of art as a manifestation of love, and the future as a posit of the present, being as it is dependent on our action at any present given moment. Thus my tongue-in-cheek Manifesto of Presentism flew down off of San Marco Campanile in hopes of spreading the message of art being ‘the food of love’ and love being ‘the food of the present.’ The action organically became a part of the Void, a clandestine operation of the group of artists participating in the EMPIRE II series of art shows curated by Vanya Balogh, and yet another perspective-changing exhibition — Miniscule Venice, another exhibition in which I took part.*
The ability to change attitudes and perspectives is one of the features of art, and there was a show that did just that. Widely covered in the media (La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre, The Quietus, Forbes, artlyst.com), it is unique in the whole of the Biennale, as it is a behaviour-altering piece on its own. Wandering down via Garibaldi between the main exhibitions of Giardini and Arsenale, a Miniscule Venice spectator can’t just brush through, glance around and leave, but is compelled to slow down and pay close attention. The difference is scale. The point of view.
Over 100 artists from all over the world brought together by an artist and a virtuoso curator, Vanya Balogh, created miniature sculptures the size of the matchbox. Some utilized the features of the matchbox form itself, some just adhered to the size limitation. Whether discovering the ‘scaling down’, or just unearthing miniature works created before, the joy of making the pieces was palpable in the small gallery at the Fondamenta Sant’Anna. ‘Mon petit miniscule’ attesting to the loss of value of the human and personal in the course of the global conquest declared and sung by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. All the pieces are unique in the use of material, some a combination of the ready-mades, some newly created from scratch. (read full article at www.ephemereye.com
Taking part in EMPIRE II multi-artist video project curated by Vanya Balogh was a two year journey through work, cities, and unexpected encounters. Launched in Brussels in 2017, the exhibition stopped for the last showing at MACO, a Contemporary Art Museum in Oaxaca, Mexico. It grew in scope and added more work, the showing in Mexico included artists workshops at the museum.
For second time in two years, I spend the last two weeks of August in Atina, Lazio. Mysterious lands, the city of Saturn, brilliant friends and colleagues inspired a few pieces from sculpture to video, or all the way around.
Installing in Palazzo Ducale, Atina. 2018. Il nido/Nest. In situ.
“This weekend is your last chance to vist BIG DEAL No7 an amalgamation of imaginary ideas and processes related and created as a response to the genre of Science Fiction, this exhibition features; sculpture, photography, painting, film, video and audio installations by some 100 international artists and guest students from RCA.”