Friday, January 20, 2012

INVIGILATOR'S REVOLT

25 Aipril – 26 July 2011

The project was carried out in the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture where I held a position of an invigilator.

In this three-month performance project matters of institutional critique coincide with practice of experimental exploration of Russian society.  The performance was hugely relying on social, communal spirit of gallery's staff, their understanding of hopelessness of the condition, and disbelief in change for better that produces inability to have a collective action - and the process I followed though within this work opens up a certain perspective on today’s Russia’s ways of existence, some level of political and social inadequacy.

The work runs though three stages of performative change in invigilator's attitude - from happy enthusiasm to "revolutionary" moods and attempts to organize trade union.

The culmination proceeds when an artist performing an invigilator is fired from the gallery for an attempt to defend legal right to choose bank that would process her payment, by spreading the information over social network for an attention of fellow colleagues. This action is named "sabotage" by the head of the department, who insists that on the occurrence of any doubt of this kind one could not be addressing to the collective.

Through the process of overidentification with Garage's ambition and Russian official norms, the performance brings attention to power relations that are representative of social condition of Russian reality.  The persistent fact that institutional structures ran with big international budgets still take personnel as a mere consumable material for their big beautifully presented causes, bring us back to what was Soviet State's take on its people. The law does not matter either. Pretentiousness of the Garage to be "Western" does not coincide with its workings on the level that goes few inches behind the visual presentation of Russian “equivalent of Tate Modern”. Its corporeal ethics depends on impulses of those in charge at the moment, either collective emotional move.

For those who observed the performance on relative closeness (gallery staff and other participants) the action was intended to highlight possibility of an alternative perception. The naivety of an actor-outsider is tactical in this anthropological piece, and the scenario could be seen as another paraphrase of Russian classics like Dostoevsky’s Idiot.