This year I visited to the STRP, an annual art & technology festival in Eindhoven, a bit ‘disproportionally’: I usually go there once, and one day was always enough to see and ‘experience’ all their installations. This time I went twice – once to the opening, and then in the next day (also because I was going to write about the event for Demotix), and then  again, with a friend of us who came a week later, and the festival was still on (we in fact invited her to see the festival).  And – this year the scope was much smaller than in any of the previous years!  Two hours would be enough, perhaps, if you want to see only the concepts (ok, lectures and workshops would require more time).  Plus the news: from this year on the event will be a ‘biennale’ (also meaning that there will be no STRP next year).   But may be it’s not that bad, may be you need a bit longer breaks between the events of such sort, otherwise they are becoming too shallow, bit of a ‘been there, done that’.

There were a few interesting ‘things’ there, but only a few; the full program is on their site, and I will present here only a few glimpses, in a very ‘psychedelic’ color palette ( I though that event is all about acid music and neon color, let the pictures be, too.

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This is not a projective technique of any sort, but it would be very interesting to hear what people see on this picture (and then, of course, to learn what they think about it). But well, this blog is not a psychoanalytical couch for the visitors (yet?), so I will tell everything myself.

This is a map of Europe. Made of the LED lights and mounted on a beautiful carpet, a bizarre mix of one of the oldest and one of the newest technologies. And this is in fact only a fragment of a larger installation by Moroccan artist Mohammad El-Baz (the link also leads to a large image):

Why this map? In principle, the answer is simple – why not? I like maps, I like contemporary art, and coming from Central Asia, I am supposed to have an affinity to the things Asian (I run a blog for years). But no, until quite recently this piece of art wouldn’t have much chances to appear in any of my blogs. Somewhat surprisingly, and despite all these ‘global village’ talks, and ‘global web’ walks (=surfs), I remain deeply Europocentric. Despite my efforts to populate my news-feeds of all sort with the bites of information from everywhere, this globally somehow evades me. Art (contemporary art) is good example; I am trying to follow major developments in this area, but at the end was able to confidently talk about the EU/US art markets only.

That is, until recently; a couple of months ago, I suddenly discovered that the last Indian artist I could name was… Rabindranath Tagore 😦 He’s a great artist and thinker, no question (the world celebrates the 150th anniversary of his birth this year, by the way), but couldn’t I move a bit further on a history scale? Being shocked, I made a few lengthy journeys (so far only mental) into Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean (and South Asian art) and now venturing into Persian and Arabic territories. It’s still a superficial awareness, and ideally I’d love to have it embedded more structurally into my information flows, but still better than niks. I will try to put more, and more diverse art works here in the future.

Video-Art-Nography by Olga Chernysheva

Last week I went to a presentation by Olga Chernysheva, a video artist from Russia, at the Utrecht center of ‘actuele kunst’ (BAK). The center displays the exhibition of her works, and also arranged this lecture aka conversation of Olga and curator Cosmin Costinaş.

I know her works since the end of 80s, if I remember; I remember one of her earliest projects, the Hat-Flowers. These notoriously famous hats had been worn by nearly all Russian women back then. Most of these hats were pretty ugly in real life, but looked like magical flowers on the photos by Olga. I think these ‘hats’ somehow influenced my own art works too, and my aman_geld project specifically, by this capacity to see an unusual beauty in the most mundane things.


It’s interesting that my latest encounter with her works was also mediated by aman_geld; when I was in Moscow last year, opening my own exhibition (amazing enough, I didn’t write about all that in this blog), I also went to the center of contemporary art called Garazh (Garage), where they were displaying, among other, her brilliant video-miniatures. If I would be doing my aman_geld as a video-project, it would look something like these works.

As often, it’s easier to show the video work than to talk at length on what it’s all about; so I just copy here a few clips I found on YouTube (although each of them indeed requires a lengthy posting, if I may need to explain what they show).

These two clips were among the small projects shown at Garazh, and the following one is a compilation of a few art works, both video and photo:

During the presentation Olga has also shown few ‘larger’ pieces:



She also showed another brilliant film, the Dream, but I can’t find it on the web; I may write later about this one, if I find it.

It was interesting for me to listen to the discussion of her work by the Dutch audience; they tend to describe her works as both ‘realistic’ and even ‘ethnographic’. But what’s not ethnographic? I think her works as ethnographic as the paintings by Magritte or the novels by Kafka; i.e., highly ethnographic but by being existentially absurd, by deconstructing, de-contextualizing the reality in the most grotesque way. It’s quite symbolic that her works are often perceived (and critiqued) in Russia as being made by ‘soulless, shameless foreigner’; people sense a nearly Marcian detachment of the author from them. This distance, a highly reflective position of Olga is of course a great achievement for me, and an object of professional envy.

I tried to take pictures during the lecture, but the light was horrible, and I manage to make only the ones like that (that’s Olga herself):

I also went to the exhibition at BAK after the lecture, and it was pretty surreal experience too; it was already quite late, 10 pm or so, and the lighting was pretty weird. So went my pictures too:

One of them even appeared in the aman_geld blog: see Feb 18.

ARTotheque: Augmented art from the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam-based museum of contemporary art, presented a very interesting project that shows how new technology can impact and change the way art is displayed, and viewed. Together with the MediaLAB Amsterdam, the museum developed a system to present 3D art objects in an augmented reality exhibition. At PICNIC they presented a simplified version of the exhibition, but the potential was clearly visible. There are a few videos already available showing how the exhibition of that sort works in ‘real life’, in this case – at the Museumsquare in Amsterdam.

Las Meninas: Contemplating reinterpretations

I’ve recently found a description of a nice exhibition held in Museo del Prada, in Madrid, called Richard Hamilton: Picasso’s Meninas. It was a double homage, to Picasso himself, and then in turn to his homage to Velazquez (I wrote ‘was’, because it was scheduled till June 20, yesterday, but as I just discovered, the exhibition is extended till July 20).

Frankly, I didn’t know that the the volume of remakes and re-interpretations of the famous Las Meninas is so large; Picasso alone made more than 50 art-works in the 1950s, and ever since the volume only growing. I surfed the web a bit, and was overwhelmed with the amount of art works, by professional, ‘serious’ artist and amateurs alike. While surfing, I started to make a slideshow, as a draft compilation of what I found. The resulted presentation is, of course, far from a complete corpus (if such is at all possible by now), but is sizable enough to make some observations and draw some conclusions.

Independently from the results, I enjoyed the very process of discovering such an immense variety, and creativity of interpretations of the famous work by the Velazquez, and hope you will, too.

Art Stars

This is my ‘photokinetic’ interpretation of the new artwork by Cornelia Parker (presented by the Meessen De Clercq gallery at the Art Brussels’10); such photographs always pose a question for me – are they really my work? or just a shadow of somebody else’s creativity? To judge, this is the ‘real’ artwork:

It is perhaps worth mentioning that there is no ‘photoshopping’ here, that is the first images is not a mere post-processing of the second one. I *did* work with my camera, and the light, and exposures AT the place, and IN the moment of display. There is a whole range of tricks I developed over time to be able to produce such images. And yet.

The Futures of Mountaineering

An excellent, witty installation by the Kazakh artist Yerbossin Meldibekov, from Almaty; I’ve bumped into this one almost accidently, being caught by another quite provocative installation, displaying possible futures, this time of Lenin, in the booth of Jozsa Gallery at the Art Brussels’10:

The installation with multiple Lenins is not bad (it’s called ‘maybe Chingizkhan, maybe Jakometti‘), but the first work is much deeper. It’s not too much to your face, and also plays with the subject I have deep emotional affinity. The three presented objects (sort of deformed basins for washing, turned upside down, and heavily beaten) are in fact one mountain, the highest mountain of the former Soviet Union, reaching 7495m.

When discovered in 1933, it was initially called the Stalin Peak; in 1962 it was renamed as the Communism Peak (this is how I always knew it, I started to climb in the 1980s, and for quite a while was not even aware of the first name, until I discovered in on the old map of the reagin). And until today I was sure that the peak is still called this way, to only reveal with some shock that it changed its name again in 1998, to Ismoil Somoni Peak, named after a legendary father of the Tajik nation.

The use of these beaten white basins to depict a mountain is simply superb; compare it with a view of the ‘real’ mountains (this IS in fact a signifier of the artwork, whatever it’s called).