LET'S CALL IT AN ESCAPE

The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg
The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg
Mice escaping their cage

At the Russian Museum during the making of The Frozen Theater, Archival interviewed Dr. Alexander Borovsky, Head of the Department of Contemporary Art at the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg.

Borovsky— Socialist realism was part of Soviet mentality, and it was an art representing how things must be: what is real love, what is real patriotism, what is real beauty, and this life was much better than real life. It was a propagandistic concept. Butterfly image

Of course, in the 30s and 40s, there were a lot of artists who were not official artists at all. Some made a small exile for themselves. They made beautiful things in this ‘exile.’ Let’s call it ‘exile,’ or let’s call it an ‘escape.'

Socialist Revolutionary Poster from 1918
One Year of Proletarian Dictatorship Revolution, c. 1918

But [these artists] never understood themselves as a special political force. Yet in the late 50s, for the first time, people started to understand that they didn’t want to act like normal members of the Artist Union, to play their games. In reality they experienced institutional problems such as the need for places to exhibit their work; they needed money; they needed the possibility to sell their paintings; and they needed the possibility to show their own picture of the world.

Grisha Bruskin’s Studio, Moscow, Courtesy of the Artist
Cultural Archeology

Yet, in totalitarian society, if you take one stone from a building, the entire building can collapse. That’s why I understand the fire of this struggle, or the provocation between the unofficial artists and the ideological leadership, because they never got permission to take one stone. This was a period of two stones coming together to make a fire.

Cultural Archeology at the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, Courtesy of the Artist
Cultural Archeology at the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg
Courtesy of the Artist

Inside the Russian Museum is Grisha Bruskin’s Cultural Archeology, an early art installation of small white porcelain figures each holding a single object.

piece from cultural archeology

In Grisha’s first illusion, it’s really made like Soviet propaganda. It seems like you can use it in stationery of the Politburo, but then you understand that it is totally anti-logo, anti-symbol, anti-communist, and much more deep relating to the universal world.

Marble Room, The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg
Marble Room, The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg

The installation resided in the Marble Palace, one of the buildings of the Russian Museum, and there, Archival also filmed the Marble Room which had just recently been restored to its pre-Soviet condition. The room casually appears in the quick revolutionary scenes of The Frozen Theater.

 
two stones coming together to make a fire
-Alexander Borovsky
 

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