(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.     Berlin                                                  


      E-E Evgenij Kozlov: Exhibitions

The Kozlov Collection “2x3m”
on Palace Bridge, St Petersburg

Первая выставка на Дворцовом мосту
The First Exhibition on Palace Bridge

July 22 /23, 1990

Leningrad / Saint Petersburg

Concept and Organisation: Ivan Movsesyan

Page 1: Text (Hannelore Fobo) and Video (Yuris Lesnik)

To Page 2: Photo Documentation (Hannelore Fobo) >>




“НА МОСТ / To the Bridge”. A video by Yuris Lesnik, 1990


Collection “2x3m”. The First Exhibition on Palace Bridge, St Petersburg.
Text: Hannelore Fobo, January 2019

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov standing in front of the Southern segment of Palace Bridge raised open.  The exhibition displays Kozlov's collection “2x3m”, five of Kozlov's own works from the cycle “New Classicals”, as well as a number of works belonging to other artists. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov standing in front of the Southern segment of Palace Bridge raised open.
The exhibition displays Kozlov's collection “2x3m”, five of Kozlov's own works from the cycle “New Classicals”, as well as a number of works belonging to other artists.

Paintings, left column:
Oleg Kotelnikov “Still life at 90˚ C” (“2x3m”)
Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro:
“Self poisoned? No, been hunted!!! (To Evgenij Kozlov) (“2x3m”)
Igor Ryatov, Oleg Kotelnikov
Central column: Georgy Guryanov, (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: five works
from the cycle "New Classiscals"; unidentified work, Inal Savchenkov.
Right column: Ivan Sotnikov “Christmas Smile “(“2x3m”),
Vladislav Gutsevich “Cossack. The Moon in the Fourth Quarter“ (“2x3m”),
Elena Bogdanova “Flecks of Sunlight” (“2x3m”), Vyacheslav Mogilevsky “Heaven” (“2x3m”), unidentified work, and Dmitri Egorov?
Bottom centre: Slava Shevelenko"Marta"
Bottom left: Andrey Medvedev?, right: Timur Novikov




On the night from the 22nd to the 23rd of July 1990, one of the most spectacular exhibitions of Soviet / Russian art took place on Palace Bridge, close to St. Petersburg's emblematic buildings – the Hermitage, The Admiralty Building, Peter and Paul Fortress, and the Kunstkamera. It displayed works from (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov's collection “2x3m”, five of Kozlov's own works from the cycle "New Classicals", as well as a number of other works by Kozlov’s artist friends.

Palace Bridge is a double-leaf bascule bridge across the Neva river, connecting the city centre with Vasiliev Island. To let commercial ships sail through during the navigable season, between April and November, its central part opens twice at night, with its two segments being raised to an almost a vertical position.

Palace Bridge, Saint Petersburg. Right: Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral at Peter and Paul Fortress. The picture, taken on an early summer morning, sees both segments of the central span in the process of being raised. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

Palace Bridge, Saint Petersburg.
Right: Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral at Peter and Paul Fortress.
The picture, taken on an early summer morning,
sees both segments of the central span in the process of being raised.

Ivan Movsesyan conceived the concept of turning the southern segment, opening towards the Winter Palace (Hermitage) – on the right in the picture above –, into a huge exhibition stand of 30 ms height and 27 ms width.

When the police blocked the traffic shortly after midnight, at 0.45 a.m., the artists immediately started to fix the paintings to the bridge railings, completing the whole process within twelve minutes – just three minutes before the bridge opened at 1.00 a.m. Trucks from Lenfilm Studio illuminated the paintings as they gradually appeared from the blackness of the night.

Despite its exceptional scale, a rather small number of people watched the event – participating artists and their friends, as well as some walkers enjoying the night.

The presentation lasted no more than an hour. At 2.15 a.m., cars again crossed to Vasiliev Island.

If carrying out large-scale ideas is an artist’s natural desire, the project nevertheless owed its realisation to a specific combination of circumstances – created by a particular moment in time and its protagonists.

The late-perestroika period had finally lifted a number of restrictions the Bolshevik state had imposed on artists – in the first place on independent artists. Censorship had been in effect since 1917, at times applied with more ferocity, at times with some flexibility. Additionally, individuals’ lack of financial autonomy and the impenetrability of official structures made it impossible to realise anything grand and powerful not supported by the State.

In the late 1980s, with perestroika progressing, Leningrad artists started squatting a number of empty buildings earmarked for major repairs. This was tolerated by local authorities (I leave aside the question of bribe money). The best-known squat was a huge apartment building located on Fontanka river embankment 145, “Fontanka 145” in short (Набережная реки Фонтанки 145 / Фонтанка 145).

In 1989, (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov moved his studio “Galaxy Gallery” from Peterhof to a spacious apartment on the third floor of Fontanka 145, where it became ”Русскоее Полее“ – “Russkoee Polee” or "The Russian Field”. The double “e’s” are pronounced as “ye-ye”: The Russian Fie-yeld. In 2005, this double “e” became his signature E-E.

Artist squat at Fontanka embankment 145 – Fontanka 145. On the third floor: Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

Artist squat at Fontanka embankment 145 – Fontanka 145.
On the third floor: Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Among the artists working at Fontanka 145 were Ivan Movsesyan, Yuris Lesnik, Georgy Guryanov, Aleksandr Nikolaev, Oleg Kuptsov, Viktor Snesar, Gera Malyshev, and Eduard Stranadko
right: “Tanzpol”, the first Russian techno club, mananged by Aleksey und Andrey Khaas and Mikhail Vorontsov. It had the same address, but a different entry

“The Russian Field” soon became a meeting place for Leningrad artists, international journalists and curators, but Kozlov was particularly interested in utilising the space available to him for large projects.

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov “Любовь к Прекрасному / Love For the Wonderful” Oil on canvas, 2х3m, 1990, from the cycle “Новая Классика / New Classicals”. Left: Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro "Politburo", mixed media on offset print, 1990. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
“Любовь к Прекрасному / Love For the Wonderful”
Oil on canvas, 2х3m, 1990, from the cycle “Новая Классика / New Classicals”.
Left: Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro "Politburo", mixed media on offset print, 1990


Here he painted the cycle “New Classicals”, each of the six motifs in a 2x3m format – the largest primed canvas available. But Kozlov also wanted to provide other artists with the possibility to unfold their creative potential with the help of a large format. In early 1990, he started inviting leading artists of the Leningrad art-scene to create a work in a two by three size, thus laying the foundation for his collection “2x3m”. Oleg Kotelnikov was the first to contribute to the collection with a homage to Keith Haring. Ivan Sotnikov, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro and others soon followed.

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Three works from the collection “2x3m” Left: Oleg Kotelnikov “Натюрморт при т. + 90˚ / Still life at 90˚ C”, oil on canvas, 1990 Right: Ivan Sotnikov “Рождественская улыбка / Christmas Smile”, oil on canvas, 1990 On the floor: Elena Bogdanova (Nika) “Солнечный Зайчик / Flecks of Sunlight”, work in progress. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Three works from the collection “2x3m”
Left: Oleg Kotelnikov “Натюрморт при т. + 90˚ / Still life at 90˚ C”, oil on canvas, 1990
Right: Ivan Sotnikov “Рождественская улыбка / Christmas Smile”, oil on canvas, 1990
On the floor: Elena Bogdanova (Nika) “Солнечный Зайчик / Flecks of Sunlight”, work in progress


Ivan Movsesyan lived on the second floor of “Fontanka 145”, and he was a regular visitor to Kozlov’s studio. Perhaps Kozlov’s works and collection inspired him to his Palace Bridge project, or perhaps he was looking for works of art large enough to be visible on a “wall” measuring 30m by 27m; most likely, it all went together.

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov From left to right: Evgenij Kozlov, Ivan Movsesyan, Andrey Tyubin, Geory Guryanov Photo: Andrey Fitenko; (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: painted vintage print, 15.2 x 23.8 cm, 1990

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
From left to right: Evgenij Kozlov, Ivan Movsesyan, Andrey Tyubin, Geory Guryanov
Photo: Andrey Fitenko; (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: painted vintage print, 15.2 x 23.8 cm, 1990


Kozlov's drawing from 1999 was inspired by the picture above.

Kozlov's drawing from 1999 was inspired by the picture above.

Whatever the case, the exhibition on Palace Bridge was not a site-specific art project – or street art, for that matter, if we consider street art to be public art or art created in public locations.

In this respect I do not share Ivan Movsesyan’s opinion, published in his interview with Anna Matveeva in ARTGID (artguide.com) on 20 April 2016. In the introduction to the interview, Matveeva quotes Movsesyan’s statements about the 1990 exhibition as the “first moveable street art“ (“первый в мире движущийся стрит-арт”) and “Most works were created specifically for the exhibition on the bridge (“Большинство работ было изготовлено специально для выставки на мосту“) more >>.

However, with regard to the first of those three Palace Bridge exhibitions (1990, 1991, and 1992), we can definitely say that the vast majority of exhibits were created independently of the exhibition.

This includes Kozlov's five works from the “New Classicals” cycle (“Love for the Earth” in a day and a night version, “Love for Work” and “Love for the Wonderful”, also in a day and a night version) and the six works from the collection “2x3m” (Oleg Kotelnikov, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro, Ivan Sotnikov, Vladislav Gutsevich, Elena Bogdanova 'Nika', and Vyacheslav Mogilevsky). These eleven paintings covered a total of sixty-six square metres.

Completed with other “pre-existing” works on canvas by Inal Sachvenkov, Igor Ryatov and some others, they were arranged to three different “strips” or “bands” displayed on the bridge in parallel columns. These columns constituted the main part of the exhibition. Four works fixed separately to the bridge railings separately might have been created specifically for the exhibition. Among them was a very large work by Slava Shevelenko dedicated to Marta, his wife. The others were by Dmitri Egorov, Timur Novikov and (probably) Andrey Medvedev.

.

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov. Hannelore Fobo painting a work for the collection "2x3m”, 1990. Photo: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Russkoee Polee / The Russian Field, studio of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Hannelore Fobo painting a work for the collection "2x3m”, 1990


I also created a work for the collection I had hoped to show at the exhibition. Alas, the oil paint took time to dry and was still moist when Ivan Movsesyan started nailing the canvases together, creating those three “strips”. Each consisted of five to six works connected to each other with the help of wooden beams keeping them stretched. They were transported to the bridge rolled up.

“Collection 2x3m“ at “Nevski Prospekt Underground”, an exhibtion of Leningrad artists during the Festival "Les Allumées", Nantes, France, October 1991. The “Collection 2x3m“ Photo: Hannelore Fobo

“Collection 2x3m“ at “Nevski Prospekt Underground”, an exhibtion of Leningrad artists during the
Festival "Les Allumées", Nantes, France, October 1991.
The “Collection 2x3m“ showed works by Kozlov, Savchenkov, Sotnikov, Mamshev-Monor, Lego, Mogilevski, Nikolaev, Gutsevich, Leladze, Smirnov, Fobo, Kotelnikov, Pavlov, Bogdanova, Strelnikov, Luthe. Left: Hannelore Fobo, right: Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro

Besides, I had the pleasure to see my painting at the second exhibition of the collection “2x3m”, at the large St. Petersburg Festival “Les Allumées” in Nantes, France, 1991, where it was exhibited next to Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro’s second work in Kozlov’s “2x3m” collection, “This is not Love. (Dedicated to the German Unification. To Russkoee Polee 1990). Alas, both of Monro’s works disappeared from Kozlov's collection after “Les Allumées”.

Yuris Lesnik’s ten-minute video about the Palace Bridge exhibition – called, rather laconically, “To the Bridge” [НА МОСТ] – shows that not all works delivered to Ivan Movsesyan’s studio were actually being displayed. I assume that the rolls of canvases were getting rather heavy. Once fixed and unrolled on the bridge, the weight of additional paintings might have torn the canvases apart.

In fact, the other four works mentioned above – those fixed separately – were all rather light, as they were made on textile or plastic, not canvas.

 

Studio "Gold and Silver", Fontanka 145 From left to right: Ivan Movsesyan, Yuris Lesnik, Andrey Gamayun, Vadim Ovchinnikov. On the floor: Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro “Self poisoned? No, been hunted!!! (To Evgenij Kozlov)”. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

Studio "Gold and Silver", Fontanka 145
From left to right: Ivan Movsesyan, Yuris Lesnik, Andrey Gamayun, Vadim Ovchinnikov.
On the floor: Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro “Self poisoned? No, been hunted!!! (To Evgenij Kozlov)”

Ivan Movsesyan’s studio, where the preparation work was completed, was another important social venue at Fontanka 145. He shared it with Yuris Lesnik and Georgy Guryanov. The studio was called “Gold and Silver” and was also known as “Boys Club”. Its attraction was the turn-of-the-century tiled stove, decorating the room where Ivan Movsesyan was assembling the paintings. Frenchman Vincent Lego depicted the stove in a painting he gave Kozlov for his collection.  

Vincent Lego, untitled (Tiled Stove at the Boys Club), 3x2m, 1990

Vincent Lego, untitled (Tiled Stove at the Boys Club), 3x2m, 1990

Yuris Lesnik was the first person to film and record his artist friends with his video camera, editing the recording with special effects. He filmed Kozlov in his studio, made a video clip for the New Composers and is best known for his “Pirate Television” movies featuring Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro as a television presenter.

Georgy Guryanov had achieved great popularity as the drummer of the band Kino. But he was also a painter, and after the band’s leader Viktor Tsoy died in a car accident in August 1990, he dedicated himself fully to painting. Guryanov did create a painting specifically for the exhibition, although it was originally intended to become part of Kozlov’s collection “2x3m”. It consisted of nothing else but two huge phalluses painted in the colours of the Russian flag – blue and red on white canvas.

Andrey Gusev, Ivan Movsesyan, Andrey Gamayun, and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov. Painting by Georgy Guryanov. Photo: Hannelore Fobo
Andrey Gusev, Ivan Movsesyan, Andrey Gamayun, and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov.
Painting by Georgy Guryanov


This simple composition is certainly not one of Guryanov’s “typical” works. A typical work would be figurative, like the huge self-portrait we see on the next page in picture 9 more >>. Rather, the blue and red phalluses make a bold statement. In 1990, they broke a double taboo: as a symbol of same-sex love and of Russia as an independent state, which happened only a year later. In Yuris Lesnik’s film we see Guryanov carefully painting the borders his motifs. Unlike myself, Guryanov used acrylic paint, which was then still “deficit” – difficult to acquire –, and his work dried easily. Unfortunately, it never made its way into the “2x3m” collection, for whatever reason. A similar, but smaller version of this symbol decorated the “Tanzpol”, Russia’s first (private) techno club, also located at Fontanka 145. more >>

In this way, “Fontanka 145”, more exactly, the studios “The Russian Field” and “Gold and Silver” became the protagonists of this striking art project. Yuris Lesnik refers to this with the opening titles of his video: “Russian Field and Gold and Silver present”, using an ingenious combination of Latin and Cyrillic letters for the studio names – РYCSKOEE EE POLE EE EE [transcribed RUSSKOEE POLE EE EE] and ЗOLOTO CEPEGPO [transcribed ZOLOTO SEREGRO, with a G instead of a B].

Yuris Lesnik (right) with his video camera mounted on a tripod. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

Yuris Lesnik (right) with his video camera mounted on a tripod

When I published Kozlov’s archival copy of Lesnik’s video in 2014, I decided to add a few more titles to provide additional information, but the contrast to the original titles remains clear. Because the quality of the video is rather poor (due to multiple copying), I also added one of my photographs to the very end of the video. We are nevertheless very lucky to have at least this copy of Lesnik’s video; in this way, his video and my own pictures complete each other.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov installing the exhibition of Hannelore Fobo's photo documentation  of the Palace Bridge exhibition. Planetarium, Leningrad / St. Petersburg, March 1991.  Photo: Hannelore Fobo

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov installing the exhibition of Hannelore Fobo's photo documentation
of the Palace Bridge exhibition.
Planetarium, Leningrad / St. Petersburg, March 1991


Looking back, it seems surprising that this monumental exhibition was not supplied with a written documentation – a brochure, leaflet or similar. At least I can say that nothing was prepared for the night of the exhibition. Accordingly, there was no announcement providing the exhibition with a particular title. Retrospectively, after the second and third exhibitions on Palace Bridge (without Kozlov’s participation, although some works from his collection “2x3m” were displayed), the one from July 1990 became “The First Exhibition on Palace Bridge”. It can just as rightfully be called “The First Exhibition of the '2x3m' Collection.” This is a matter of interpretation.

The whole event felt more like a private party than a big show, yet there was a sense of mission. The main purpose was to create an absolutely new aesthetic experience in a public space in the very heart of the city. The artists demonstrated that they were ready to both challenge and continue St. Petersburg’s cultural and artistic tradition, kept in store at the Hermitage and Kunstkamera. They did not need institutional recognition to declare themselves as artists – just as Leningrad born Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky had rejected, in the 1964 trial, the judge’s question “Who has recognised you as a poet?” They proved to be right. Works of Guryanov, Gutsevich, Kotelnikov, Kozlov, Mamyshev-Monroe, Novikov, Shevelenko and Sotnikov are now all in important national and international museums, among them the Tate Gallery, the Centre Pompidou and the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz.

Returning to my remark at the beginning of this article – the “specific combination of circumstances”: It is now quite clear that the “particular moment in time” could not have lasted very long. It was a moment “in between” – ideological pressure had been lifted and the new economic situation seemed to offer artists only chances, not constraints. Some artists were able to buy their own apartment by selling no more than one or two paintings to foreigners. But “success” had not yet become a symbol social distinction. The community of independent artists from the 1980s was still vaguely intact, and new ones formed around such art-centres as Fontanka 145, fostering an atmosphere of mutual support and amicability.

Artists watching the exhibtion. From left to right Denis Egelsky (with white trousers), Timur Novikov, DJ Alexey Haas (behind Novikov), Dmitry Egorov, Elena Bogdanova, Alexander Nikolaev, Konstantin Mitenev. Photo: Hannelore Fobo

Artists watching the exhibtion.
From left to right
Denis Egelsky (with white trousers), Timur Novikov, DJ Alexey Haas (behind Novikov), Dmitry Egorov, Elena Bogdanova, Alexander Nikolaev, Konstantin Mitenev


The next generation of artists may have had more opportunities at a younger age, but the art-world they entered of was more fragmented and competitive. As a result, the ability to promote oneself became increasingly important. These artists had to be more professional – not as artists, but as experts in marketing. Of course, Kozlov’s generation did not escape this pressure either, but many had made themselves a name before the new times demanded courting curators and museum-people instead of hanging around with artists. This proved to be of great help after 1990. We may even say that in Russia, such an activity as “curating” started only in the 1990s, and young art-historians becoming professional curators emerged from those very artist circles of Kozlov’s generation.

Last but not least, it is today unthinkable that such an exhibition should be carried out as a self-organised low budget project. Of course, some people from the city government had to support the project, but they kept a low profile. Today, a project of this scale would surely demand an important institutional framework, months of preparation and a lengthy discussion about its patriotic stance. And it would be accompanied by a major press campaign.

Hannelore Fobo at the opening of her photo documentation of the Palace Bridge exhibition at the Planetarium, Leningrad / St. Petersburg, March 1991. Photo: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Hannelore Fobo at the opening of her photo documentation of the Palace Bridge exhibition
at the Planetarium, Leningrad / St. Petersburg, March 1991


Postscript.

Almost exactly twenty years later, on the night of 14 June 2010, a group of political activists known under the name of “Voina” – “War” –, painted a giant phallus on another St. Petersburg drawbridge: Liteiny Bridge near the Bolshoi Dom, the local headquarters of the FSB, the successor organisation to the KGB. The action was called “Dick Captured by the FSB”, and the picture of the phallus went viral, earning the group the prestigious Innovation prize in 2011, awarded by an independent jury on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Culture.

The action is a typical example of Russian “stiob”, an anarchic form of wittiness meant to provoke or expose some kind of authority. Sociologists Gudkov and Dubinin defined the stiob as a specific type of “intellectual sarcasm, consisting in the public or written diminution of symbols, achieved by deliberately using the symbols in question within the context of a burlesque”. If it is true that staff members of the FSB reacted to Voina's action with humour, as reported in the press, then the art world took it more serious than the institution it supposedly undermined.  

The exhibition on Palace Bridge wasn’t a stiob. It wasn’t a reaction to a hated political system, it was a gesture of love – Love for the Wonderful, Love for the Earth, Love for Work, to quote the titles of Kozlov’s works from his “New Classicals” cycle.

There might be formal similarity between Guryanov’s phallus painting and the one by Voina, but their messages were diametrically opposed. While Guryanov celebrated his coming out, Voina declared “f… you”. The stiob, as Kozlov says, expresses concern with a closed space, not with the world. The stiob throve under the communist system, especially during its late period, the 1970s and 1980s, and was particularly popular among Moscow conceptualists. The fact that the stiob is still being acclaimed as an outstanding artistic expression exemplifies that Russia continues to be a post-Soviet society.

Всему своё время – Everything has its time.

Hannelore Fobo, January 2019.

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Uploaded 21 January 2019
Last updated 22 January 2019