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
Crows, sparrows, pigeons, rats, stray cats: all these animals lead a parasitic way of life and are in fact part of the urbanistic machine. They have no home, just a territory. They are everywhere and at the same time nowhere. Cellars, attics, holes, cracks, abandoned plants are their habitat. They are always around but they stay invisible.
Urban fauna is a phenomenon that constantly eludes apprehension. These species, the closest but also the most distant, fall out of the dominant perceptive models of the animal world, trapped halfway between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’. Their position is undefined and unstable. They are nothing like the humanized house pets in whom their owners try to recognize themselves, nor do they belong to the romanticized wild life representatives who impersonate the sublime otherness.
Philosopher Michel Serres in his Le Parasite constantly addresses the polysemy of the French word parasite that also designates, besides the social and biological meanings, the interference noise. In fact, the parasitic urban fauna creates, by its existence itself, interference with the long-established hierarchy of live beings. It shifts the boundaries of animal and human, challenging the integrity of our world.
The aim of the Urban Fauna Zoo show is to explore and problematize the social, cultural and ontological status of these animals and of their role in human history. It is an attempt to hear the noise of parasitic existence which produces a new order of the organic.
Urban Fauna Zoo
Temporary zoo in unconstructed building occupied by artists. It was inhabited with the most common animals of Moscow city. Pigeons, sparrows, crows and rats were presented on 500 sq meters. They were based in large aviaries, which didn't restrain them from getting out. Installation included text and photo materials considering each of the species. Michel Serres 'La Parasite', 'The Great Cat Massacre' by Nicolas Conta', materials from web forum of crow hunters etc. Elements of decor are to be an artistic commentary on the situation of such a boring zoo: Cardboard monument of pigeon body was placed with pigeons. Flowerbed with the begonia for crows. Mice had a miniature persian rug. Sparrow twitter was mixed with Mao Zedong speech. Installation of Anastasia Potemkina 'The Great Cat Massacre' a collection of BDSM items and hunter traps was placed in the cat area (which was empty because our cat got adopted by a family before the opening). 'Duck Traffic', video film by Anastasia was shown in the black box.
A Town Mouse once visited a relative who lived in the country. For lunch the Country Mouse served wheat stalks, roots, and acorns, with a dash of cold water for drink. The Town Mouse ate very sparingly, nibbling a little of this and a little of that, and by her manner making it very plain that she ate the simple food only to be polite.
After the meal the friends had a long talk, or rather the Town Mouse talked about her life in the city while the Country Mouse listened. They then went to bed in a cozy nest in the hedgerow and slept in quiet and comfort until morning. In her sleep the Country Mouse dreamed she was a Town Mouse with all the luxuries and delights of city life that her friend had described for her. So the next day when the Town Mouse asked the Country Mouse to go home with her to the city, she gladly said yes.
When they reached the mansion in which the Town Mouse lived, they found on the table in the dining room the leavings of a very fine banquet. There were sweetmeats and jellies, pastries, delicious cheeses, indeed, the most tempting foods that a Mouse can imagine. But just as the Country Mouse was about to nibble a dainty bit of pastry, she heard a Cat mew loudly and scratch at the door. In great fear the Mice scurried to a hiding place, where they lay quite still for a long time, hardly daring to breathe. When at last they ventured back to the feast, the door opened suddenly and in came the servants to clear the table, followed by the House Dog.
The Country Mouse stopped in the Town Mouse's den only long enough to pick up her carpet bag and umbrella. "You may have luxuries and dainties that I have not," she said as she hurried away, "but I prefer my plain food and simple life in the country with the peace and security that go with it."
The city rat invites the country rat onto the Persian rug. They gnaw and chew leftover bits of ortolan. Scraps, bits and pieces, leftovers: their royal feast is only a meal after a meal among the dirty dishes of a table that has not been cleared. The city rat has produced nothing and his dinner invitation costs him almost nothing. Boursault says this in his Fables d'Esope, where the city rat lives in the house of a big tax farmer. Oil, butter, ham, bacon, cheese-everything is available. It is easy to invite the country cousin and to regale oneself at the expense of another.
The tax farmer produced neither oil nor ham nor cheese; in fact, he produced nothing. But using power or the law, he can profit from these products. Likewise for the city rat who takes the farmer's leftovers. And the last to profit is the country rat. But we know that the feast is cut short. The two companions scurry off when they hear a noise at the door. It was only a noise, but it was also a message, a bit of information producing panic: an interruption, a corruption, a rupture of information. Was the noise really a message? Wasn't it, rather, static, a parasite? A parasite who has the last word, who produces disorder and who generates a different order. Let's go to the country where we eat only soup, but quietly and without interruption.
The tax farmer is a parasite, living off the fat of the land: a royal feast, ortolans, Persian rugs. The first rat is a parasite; for him, leftovers, the same Persian rug. Nothing is missing, says La Fontaine. At the table of the first, the table of the farmer, the second rat is a parasite. He permits himself to be entertained in such a fashion, never missing a bite. But strictly speaking, they all interrupt: the custom house officer makes life hard for the working man, the rat taxes the farmer, the guest exploits his host. But I can no longer write; the noise, the ultimate parasite, through its interruption, wins the game. In the parasitic chain, the last to come tries to supplant his predecessor. The noise chases the country rat; the city rat remains, for he wants to finish the roast. A given parasite seeks to eject the parasite on the level immediately superior to his own.
I leave it to you to think about this loud noise: the sounds of the street which would make the tax farmer give in; the creaking of the floorboards, the cracking of the beams, which would chase the rats from the building.
Noise destroys and horrifies. But order and flat repetition are in the vicinity of death. Noise nourishes a new order. Organization, life, and intelligent thought live between order and noise, between disorder and perfect harmony. If there were only order, if we only heard perfect harmonies, our stupidity would soon fall down toward a dreamless sleep; if we were always surrounded by the shivaree, we would lose our breath and our consistency, we would spread out among all the dancing atoms of the universe. We are; we live; we think on the fringe, in the probable fed by the unexpected. There are two ways to die, two ways to sleep, two ways to be stupid-a head-first dive into chaos or stabilized installation in order and chitin. We are provided with enough senses and instinct to protect us against the danger of explosion, but we do not have enough when faced with death from order or with falling asleep from rules and harmony.
There is only something new by the injection of chance in the rule, by the introduction of the law at the heart of disorder. An organization is born from circumstances, like Aphrodite rising from the sea.
We are surrounded by noise. And this noise is inextinguishable. It is outside—it is the world itself—and it is inside, produced by our living body. We are in the noises of the world, we cannot close our door to their reception, and we evolve, rolling in this incalculable swell. We are hot, burning with life; and the hearths of this temporary ecstasy send out a truceless tumult from their innumerable functions. If these sources are stilled, death is there in the form of flat waves. Flat for recording, flat for closed ears. In the beginning is the noise; the noise never stops. It is our apperception of chaos, our apprehension of disorder, our only link to the scattered distribution of things. Hearing is our heroic open ing to trouble and diffusion; other receptors assure us of order or, if they no longer give or receive, close immediately. None assure us that we are surrounded by fluctuation and that we are full of fluctuation. And it chases us from chaos; by the horror it inspires in us, it brings us back and calls us to order.
This work represents an intersection of two traffics, animal and technical. A flock of ducks follows the path made of breadcrumbs, blocking the way for vehicles. The sudden intervention of the animal world into the technical one creates a moment of utter confusion, when the automobile traffic, confronting its fragile animal ancestor, turns out to be completely helpless and all its technical power becomes redundant.
from 'The Parasite'
“In late May and early June, we get loads of calls, says Elena Zubakina, executive director of the national Bird Protection Association. People complain that crows attack them. Though usually it happens when they rear their chicks. Crows attack only when there is a danger for their younglings when they are still weak.” ...
Goshawks from the Vorobyovy Gory nature reserve are going restore the biological balance in Moscow by reducing the populations of pigeons and hooded crows that are constantly growing. Specialists hope that the predators will adapt quickly to the city environment and succeed at restoring the natural balance. ...
According to the Vita animal protection center, a mass movement of crowkillers has formed since 2005. Several hundreds of people are conducting shoot-offs in today’s Moscow. Chasing the feathered tribe is mainly practiced by people of property who shoot from their cars’ windows. The shooting occurs at the city waste deposits, in yards and even near children’s playgrounds. ...
“We should not exterminate crows but control their numbers, says Vladimir Konstantinov, Doctor of Biological Sciences and professor at the Moscow normal university. The lengths the city authorities went to! Crows were fed various poisons, drugs that were supposed to reduce their fertility. Nothing worked. And we shouldn’t even try. It’s actually very simple. The essential things is to get rid of scrapheaps. If we do that, there will be much less crows.” ...
“A large population of hooded crows is a real problem for the city, says Viktor Zubakin, President of the Bird Protection Association. Crows take other birds’ nests, they foul a lot. But shooting cannot be an answer. To solve the problem, we should clean and wash up the city, or at least cover up all the dustbins — they are the hooded crow’s main forage resource.” ...
After a day of exhausting work and disgusting food, the two apprentices retire to their bedroom, a damp and draughty lean-to in a corner of the courtyard.
“He is so tired and needs rest so desperately that the shack looks like a palace to him. At last the persecution and misery he has suffered throughout the day have come to an end, and he can relax. But no, some bedeviled cats celebrate a witches' sabbath all night long, making so much noise that they rob him of the brief period of rest allotted to the apprentices before the journeymen arrive for work early the next morning and demand admission by constant ringing of an infernal bell. Then the boys have to get up and cross the courtyard, shivering under their nightshirts, in order to open the door. Those journeymen never let up. No matter what you do, you always make them lose their time and they always treat you as a lazy good-for-nothing. They call for Leveille. Light the fire under the cauldron! Fetch water for the dunking-troughs! True, those jobs are supposed to be done by the beginner apprentices, who live at home, but they don't arrive until six or seven. Thus everyone is soon at work—apprentices, journeymen, everyone but the master and the mistress: they alone enjoy the sweetness of sleep. That makes Jerome and Leveille jealous. They resolve that they will not be the only ones to suffer; they want their master and mistress as associates. But how to turn the trick?
Leveille has an extraordinary talent for imitating the voices and the smallest gestures of everyone around him. He is a perfect actor; that's the real profession that he has picked up in the printing shop. He also can produce perfect imitations of the cries of dogs and cats. He decides to climb from roof to roof until he reaches a gutter next to the bedroom of the bourgeois and the bourgeoise. From therцe he can ambush them with a volley of meows. It's an easy job for him: he is the son of a roofer and can scramble across roofs like a cat. Our sniper succeeds so well that the whole neighborhood is alarmed. The word spreads that there is witchcraft afoot and that the cats must be the agents of someone casting a spell. It is a case for the cure, who is an intimate of the household and the confessor of Madame. No one can sleep any more. Leveille stages a sabbath the next night and the night after that.
If you didn't know him, you would be convinced he was a witch. Finally, the master and the mistress cannot stand it any longer. "We'd better tell the boys to get rid of those malevolent animals," they declare. Madame gives them the order, exhorting them to avoid frightening la grise. That is the name of her pet pussy. This lady is impassioned for cats. Many master printers are also. One of them has twenty-five. He has had their portraits painted and feeds them on roast fowl.
The hunt is soon organized. The apprentices resolve to make a clean sweep of it, and they are joined by the journeymen. The masters love cats, so consequently they must hate them. This man arms himself with the bar of a press, that one with a stick from the drying-room, others with broom handles. They hang sacks at the windows of the attic and the storerooms to catch the cats who attempt to escape by leaping outdoors. The beaters are named, everything is organized. Leveille and his comrade Jerome preside over the fete, each of them armed with an iron bar from the shop. The first thing they go for is la grise, Madame's pussy. Leveille stuns it with a quick blow on the kidneys, and Jerome finishes it off. Then Leveille stuffs the body in a gutter, for they don't want to get caught: it is a matter of consequence, a murder, which must be kept hidden. The men produce terror on the rooftops. Seized by panic, the cats throw themselves into the sacks. Some are killed on the spot. Others are condemned to be hanged for the amusement of the entire printing shop. Printers know how to laugh; it is their sole occupation. The execution is about to begin. They name a hangman, a troop of guards, even a confessor. Then they pronounce the sentence.
In the midst of it all, the mistress arrives. What is her surprise, when she sees the bloody execution! She lets out a scream; then her voice is cut, because she thinks she sees la grise, and she is certain that such a fate has been reserved for her favorite puss. The workers assure her that no one would be capable of such a crime: they have too much respect for the house.
The bourgeois arrives. "Ah! The scoundrels," he says. "Instead of working, they are killing cats." Madame to Monsieur: "These wicked men can't kill the masters, so they have killed my pussy. She can't be found. I have called la grise everywhere. They must have hanged her." It seems to her that all the workers' blood would not be sufficient to redeem the insult. The poor grise, a pussy without a peer!
Monsieur and Madame retire, leaving the workers in liberty. The printers delight in the disorder; they are beside themselves with joy.
What a splendid subject for their laughter, for a belle copie! They will amuse themselves with it for a long time. Leveille will take the leading role and will stage the play at least twenty times. He will mime the master, the mistress, the whole house, heaping ridicule on them all. He will spare nothing in his satire. Among printers, those who excel in this entertainment are called jobeurs: they provide joberie.
Leveille receives many rounds of applause. It should be noted that all the workers are in league against the masters. It is enough to speak badly of them [the masters] to be esteemed by the whole assembly of typographers. Leveille is one of those. In recognition of his merit, he will be pardoned for some previous satires against the workers”.
From "The Great Cat Massacre" by Robert Darnton