Curator: Katerina Chuchalina
The 'Grain' Pavilion, All-Russian Exhibition Center, Moscow 2014
Group show 'ik-00'
Collateral project of the XIV Venice Biennale of Architecture
Casa dei Tre Oci, Judecca 2014
Note. A scientist who recognizes the mundane and the obvious in natural phenomena often turns out to be a charlatan, a wrongheaded researcher. His mistakes become his contribution to science.
Note. The creators of “Star Road” look through the city walls. The pioneers, as they call themselves, have mapped a route across an Italian town Biella in a form of a five-pointed star.
Ist Bergen Assembly 'Monday Begins on Saturday'
Contributors: Anastasia Potemkina, Ekaterina Zavyalova, Alexey Buldakov
Permanenten (Kode 1), Bergen, Norway, 2013
On natural selection in Khoroshevo-Mnevniki district of Moscow. Text from the catalogue of the Ist Bergen Assembly 'Monday Begins on Saturday'.
on the exhibition 'Frontier'
Made by Anastasia Potemkina, Alexey Buldakov
Art&Science Lab, Moscow, 2013
Collective show 'The Way of Enthusiasts'
Collateral project of the XIII Venice Biennale of Architrecture
Contributors: Anastasia Potemkina,
Ekaterina Zavyalova, Alexey Buldakov
Palazzo dei Tre Oci, Judecca, Venice, 2012
Presidium of False Calculations
Contributors: Anastasia Potemkina, Dmitriy
Potemkin, Alexey Buldakov
Museum of Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship, Moscow 2012
The Park of Urban Fauna is dedicated to wild animals for which the city has become a natural habitat.
A sketch of an urban sculpture to be installed in places where pigeons are numerous.
Collateral program of the IV Moscow Biennale
Potemkina, Dmitriy Potemkin, Alexey Buldakov
Art Squat Forum, Mosow 2011
Video by Anastasia Potemkina
Moscow Zoological Museum has an abundant collection of paintings. Presumably, no other science museum could compare. Hundreds of scientists’ portraits and images of biological species hang above the display cases. There is little space left on the museum’s walls, as if the exhibit designers meant to cover all available surfaces beneath its high ceilings. Dusty, reminiscent of fossil artefacts, executed in the style of Socialist Realism, the paintings are tokens of a different epoch and a different place:
— An epoch of Socialist Realism industry heyday. (And a vast territory imbued with politically correct images).
—An epoch when Marxist and Darwinist doctrines were complimentary of one another. Employed by the state intellectuals, natural selection imparted the struggle for the better tomorrow with naturalness, thus gaining political significance. (A blessed place, illuminated by the light of truth, a promised land amidst the darkness brimmed with weeping and gnashing of teeth).
The epoch is gone. (The place has changed). Marx and Darwin do not go hand in hand anymore. Dogmatic doctrines multiply and contend for the gift of illumination. No one knows what lies ahead, for the future is unpredictable.
These were my thoughts at Ilya Dolgov’s exhibition Azoic at the Moscow State University Zoological Museum (that Dolgov who publishes The Forest Journal). I detected two functions of paintings at the science museum: auxiliary-and-decorative and sports-and-recreation. Amusingly naïve, they lack vision, as if painted by lousy P.E. teachers.
Set against the backdrop of these paintings, Dolgov’s exhibition indeed bears a resemblance to the museum’s permanent exposition. Their messages are similar in many ways. Akin to zoologists, Dolgov believes that any organism should be considered in terms of its constant spatio-temporal relationships with other organisms. Thus, there is an uninterrupted chain of small steps along the “genealogical tree of evolution” from an insect, a stag-beetle, for instance, and a mammal, let’s say, a deer. It is possible to start with the beetle and to construct such a succession of animals that would eventually lead up to a deer. This is only probable, if both an insect and a mammal have a common ancestor, even if a remote one. In Dolgov’s universe Azoic (a – a negation prefix, ζωή (Ancient Greek) – an animal, living substance; however, the author does not elaborate on the word’s etymology), a fictional epoch, is origin of all living organisms, progenitor of a multitude of forms. Present diversity of both animate and inanimate objects emanates from Azoic. Azoic implicitly permeates everything and everyone. Dolgov attempts to discern Azoids, the ancient ancestors, in the structure of the modern world, and to discover universal laws of morphogenesis.
Unlike scientists, Dolgov disregards the precision of scientific method. Like D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, he traces the transfiguration of a stag-beetle form into a form of a deer without employing graph paper or a slide ruler. Similar to René Thom, he sorts the wheat of stability from the chaff of catastrophes, yet does not address differential topology. (It would be curious to see an artist specialising in differential topology. This apparatus would hardly find understanding from the audience, or art managers. At least for now. The closest practice is designing interiors with Grasshopper.). Fortunately or not, Dolgov despises mathematics and precision instruments. His relationship to the object of his research is vicarious. Azoic is immanently present in himself and his universe. In his work the origin of biological form is presented as a collection of found artefacts and minimalistic constructions encountered in the everyday reality, not as a dull mathematical abstraction. He purely relies on research intuition when he selects objects for his subjective archive.
One can say that Dolgov’s working instrument is a phenomenal self-model, and he himself is “Mary, the superscientist”, who fled the achromatic bunker of the verifiable knowledge. In a purely scientific sense, Dolgov is a charlatan and a heretic, parasitizing upon scientific progress. Similar anti-scientific heresy based on optical illusions was widespread in the XVII century. Many of Hooke’s and Leeuwenhoek’s writings were subsequently obscured.
A scientist who meticulously observes the mundane and the obvious in natural phenomena often turns out to be a charlatan, a wrongheaded researcher. His mistakes become his contribution to science. Discrepancies between observational data and calculations are inevitable and common to physical sciences. Goethe’s theory of colours was deemed scientifically irrelevant for a long time. He rejected the colour constancy theory and probed the complexities of individual colour perception instead. “With light poise and counterpoise, Nature oscillates within the prescribed limits, yet thus arise all the varieties and conditions of the phenomena which are presented to us in space and time,” — states Goethe. Undertaken by Goethe, qualitative generalisation of the nature of colour is a solid illustration of the structural model of cognition — we change the world by describing it.
One last thing. I have recently stumbled upon Lubarsky’s comparison of scientists with children. There is a psychological test called The Sally-Anne test: “Two dolls, one called Sally and the other called Anne, are presented to the children. Sally has a basket and Anne has a box. Next, Sally receives a toy from the test conductor, a ball or a small piece of candy. Sally puts the toy in her basket and leaves. After Sally leaves the room, Anne moves the item into her box. Then Anne leaves and Sally comes back into the room, and the child is asked: “Where will Sally look for her toy?” Usually, three-year-olds confidently point to the box. Only at the age of 4 and older children may point to the basket. The interpretation of this behaviour is the following: a three-year-old child cannot manage the dominant and express his vision on how the world works. He knows the toy is in the box, so he is pointing to it. And only at the age of 4 a child obtains a subtle understanding that others might have a different, improper vision and act according to it.
Now then, natural scientists have a similar understanding of the world. They perceive everything else subjectively and consider it irrelevant. Sally does not exist and all the questions are addressed directly to them. Every natural scientist is witness to the truth — something he has directly experienced, the rest — stems from evil”.
Illustrations from 'Dyas Chymica Tripartita', 1625