05 March 2007

The exhibition - Matter and Memory

Moscow, a combination of the slightly familiar and fantastically new seems to be the character of this place. The situation of setting up the exhibition 'Matter and Memory' brought new and extraordinary ways of finding possibilities in what appear to be impossible situations.

The conditions we worked for Matter and Memory in were unbelievable - a cellar with severe quantities of cement dust, without electricity and with water leaking through the walls - any really sane person would have walked away from this! We did decide that we must have jointly escaped from the White Cube asylum, and found ourselves in something even more bizarre. The practical experiences also somehow highlighted the happenstance.

Where else would I have been lent the ornate wall mirror from Kabakov's studio and had a dancer from the Bolshoi Ballet draw her self portrait. In the context of improbabilities, the fact that the German students exhibiting came from Staedeschule in Frankfurt and Kabakov's book was based on a series of lectures given there just seemed to be pre-planning for this event.

Th
e installation was in dimmed lighting, difficult to photograph so lent itself to the black and white interpretation, and linked to an early 1980's image of students in the Kabakov studio.

I was comforted when I read this from an interview with both Ilya and Emilia Kabakov in 2004, I think I am beginning to understand Moscow a little. 'The Hermitage exhibition simulates a retrospective. In the first telephone call, they told us: you can't touch the floors, you can't touch the walls, and you can't put lights on the ceiling. And you can't close the windows and you can't open the door [laughter]. They said, there is nothing behind the door. I said, what do you mean, nothing? Is there a mountain or a street behind this door, I asked. Nothing means they didn't do the floors.'

We were of course promised catalogues from the Biennial organisers, but of course these were never found, the rumour was that they were sold to someone else...





'Fair Trade - Material matters' took on so much meaning that I could never have planned