The inhabited sculptures 2013

"GOSZAKAZ" ("Governmental Order")

A view the inhabited sculpture in the Moscow Skolkovo Park

«Sculptures by contemporary Russian artists will be installed in Switzerland»
31 May 2016

There is always a certain amount of so-called animals-parasites, which is inherent to any town. Usually, pigeons, sparrows, crows, ducks, seagulls, mice, rats, and definitely homeless dogs and cats are considered to be this sort of animals.

These creatures in aggregate are a residual biological spasm dissolved in a synthetic post-industrial reality of megalopolises. Their role is undefined and arbitrary, so is the citizens’ attitude to them. Some fulfil their sadistic predilection and declare themselves sweepers scattering poison around the places where these animals live. Others, on the contrary, are full of mercy and compassion. As a rule, government reluctantly performs its punitive function and, striving to be on the safe side, creates conditions for complete disappearance of any useless animals. However, urban animals do stay alive oddly clutching at the urban reality. Indeed, they are of no tangible benefit to the town and thus somehow related to another useless phenomenon – spontaneous street art. Just in the same way all these graffiti, peculiar objects made of rubbish and snowmen tend to occupy all the spots where they are likely to reside.

Thus, one could talk of the certain homelessness of these two spontaneous phenomena, which are standing out of the general rational order. Why not to make an attempt to combine them officially and to get something new?

What if we build up special arks – city sculptures inhabited by homeless animals... These might be bizarre biomorphic objects anchored to the roofs of the buildings or installed in the parks and squares, depending on the physiology of its potential dwellers.

Social man has created a rational geometric world, but in the 21st century it is perfectly appropriate to abandon excessive despotism, creating not square dovecotes and not rectangular kennels. On the one hand, such pieces of art would bring a therapeutic visual alternative diluting city landscapes with natural forms. At the same time, they would become centres for culture and leisure for the citizens and will initiate a rare opportunity to communicate with living inhuman beings...

One could seat on a bench in the park next to the sculpture-ark, have a sandwich and feed the dwellers of the shelter. Of course, installation of such objects should be initiated by the government as well as its further maintenance. After the installation of sculptures in the city environment, cleaning, repair, video surveillance, illumination and all the concurrent services should be provided. The idea is that all objects should be maintained by the city government. Reasonable is the question whether homeless animals would want to inhabit these objects. If they do not, people would encourage them and look forward to see their appearance...


A view the inhabited sculpture in the Moscow Skolkovo Park

A view the inhabited sculpture for birds in front of the State Darwin Museum

A view the inhabited sculpture for birds in front of the State Darwin Museum

A view the inhabited sculpture for birds on the scuare of the State Darwin Museum

The sketch of the inhabited sculpture for birds

The sketch of the inhabited sculpture for a dog

The sketch of the inhabited sculpture for a dog

The sketch of the inhabited sculpture for birds


Curators of the exhibition, artist Roman Sakin and gallerist Marina Pecherskaya, have decided that it's time we identified who is an art customer in the society. Since the Soviet epoch, the words "governmental order" presuppose some nega­tive connotation, namely imposed ideological propaganda: the government or­ders, an artist performs, citizens have to tolerate. That ideology is gone but when it comes to choosing a topic and a place for a new monument, there still remains some insertion from the past, that is the lack of communication between the citi­zens, bureaucrats and artists. "GOSZAKAZ" exhibition is an attempt to offer a po­sitive interaction system where the society is a customer and where the artists could offer new forms of public art which the government could implement.

Traditionally, a monument should remind us of a hero or important historical event, but bronze sculptures do not perform this function anymore. A familiar form leaves one indifferent, and however paradoxical it may seem, a monument becomes invisible. Only one recent monument has become remarkable and popu­lar, but not due to its artistic features. This is the monument on Chistye Prudy, which was at first referred to as a "monument to the unknown Kazakh", After the Occupy movement everyone learned that this Kazakh, Abay Kunanbaev, is a won­derful poet who struggled for freedom and enlightenment. His republished books appeared just on time.

What memory is really important for us and how can it be reflected by an artist to make it relevant? Victims of Stalin's persecution, personal tragedy for numerous families in Russia: Haim Sokol suggested immortalizing it by hanging post boxes with these people's names on the houses where they used to live. An ordinary board with an inscription is dumb and cold, but this artistic gesture contains a re­quest for response, for a message which will be sent to the deceased. On a board, their names are listed formally and compactly, but each post box bears a real weight of an object, as if trying to embody the dimensions of the disaster.

Can a monument relating to the present and day-to-day life express honor, con­science, heroism? Kiril Ass and Anna Ratafieva succeed to combine imperial amp­litude and reminding that a powerful state needs its citizens to be honest and re­sponsible in any detail. Their stone slab with measured recesses for checking the conformity of various greens' bunches could have been installed on the wall in a market. However, at the same time their project warns the empire that fascists also measured people's "blood purity" and killed those who failed to comply.

Dmitry Kawarga also starts a dialogue with day-to-day topics, choosing one of the most relevant - homeless animals. His biomorphic sculptures can be set up in the city as animal shelters: their organic, as though randomly growing shapes will remind people of nature by contrast with the geometry and rationality of archi­tecture. We miss the nature, which makes us adopt cats and dogs, feed sparrows and titmice, but at the same time we are irritated by how many homeless animals are out there, verging on fascism by shooting and poisoning them. Mankind has created a civilization and taught animals to live next to us. But nowadays people are more used to cleaning their houses, trimming their lawns and even washing bronze idols, but not taking care of the animals they once tamed.

"GOSZAKAZ" is planned to be a regular project. Its main objective is to show new ideas in the domain of urban sculpture, involve people in the discussions, analyze the situation and start communicating with the city authorities, telling them about opinions and suggestions which could be realised. First of all, we need to understand what we have now and define a path for development. Ivan Gorshkov criticizes the current state of urban monumentalism, his intentionally awkward sculpture is a resume of all the disadvantages. A metal figure with a concrete face is standing on a very low pedestal holding out its arms as if it was blind, embodi- es perplexity in front of the modem reality, a common feature of the most bronze statues in our cities. The lack of pedestal can be considered as an attempt to re- new the form, be more democratic. But that is why the monument loses its meaning as a memory of something important and magnificent: now you can take an informal picture hugging it like your buddy. It is not that the "glued" face was hinting at some particular bronze objects, but it says that there are some samples that can be used to depict any hero, and that is why they cannot impress anyone. It also says about some artists who do not care about the me- dium ("it can be bronze or plaster, up to you"), although it is a very important part of the monument's mood.

Umversalist approach is inadmissible, for it shows last of responsibility for the iesult. But at the same time, a monument should be universal in the best sen­se, for it is made for many people and should be designed to unite. Roman Sakin in his giant kinesthetic sculpture in Gorky Park suggested a form of a mo­numental manually manageable calendar, which would involve everyone in public holidays. A tower that resembled a mysterious meteorological station consisted of metal bars with snow-white balls on them. Having studied the scheme of the balls' location and using the handles on the pedestal, a spec­tator could raise and lower them, giving everybody a sign that a new holiday was that today.

In his work for the current project, Sakin develops the topic of the relationship between public and private life, defining the types of necessary monuments. He was inspired by the albums published in the USSR after the Second World War recommending topics, heroes and forms that can be used to honor the victory. There was not only official suppression in the past, but also an experi­ence of uniting people. Today, the government is trying to impose a common understanding of the history. What can it be based upon, what can it consist of? Roman Sakin finds details for it in the highway signs showing the names of the towns and regions, proud for their home. Gravestones show that we re­member our ancestors, but usually we leave them to standard cemetery ser­vices. So maybe we should invent new standards that could tell more about what a person was like when he lived? Sakin also makes us think about urban and park sculpture, creating new types of it, like the information tower that would differ from consumer products publicity by original shape and would keep citizens up to date. He also invented a so called "oven fountains" that would heat people in winter and switch to cooling mode in summer. This idea reminds us of the well-known cases of non-compliance of the poor present to the magnificent past: when the homeless warm themselves and cook using the Eternal fire when it is cold, and use the fountain water to drink and wash themselves when it is hot.

I would like to remind of a novel by Alexander Kuprin "Shulamith": king Solo­mon left his father's body and then the body of his beloved woman to feed the dogs because he did not want to desecrate a holiday, but his heart was griped by sorrow and fear. When building a monument, one should always decide what is more important - an individual or formality, soul or body, past or future. When building a genuine monument, one has always to decide what is more important - a dog or a dead lion.

Diana Machulina