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Video and video archive


For more than fifteen years, I – as an artist – have been actively collecting materials such as photos, videos, catalogues, booklets and invitation cards on the activities of contemporary artists from Moscow. From 1989 until today, I have collected information on over 120 exhibitions of Russian art in the West. This material is unique, especially if one considers the fact that it documents an important period, namely the appearance of contemporary
Russian culture in the West after the Perestroika. This gives rise to the question that is most important to me: how should I conserve all of this material? The first, most natural path is to continue collecting material in the hope that with time, Russian culture will become interested in itself, that people will bring the necessary money and time to take on the function of processing it. But as an artist, I understand full well that the archive has a tendency to delete itself, and that my method (the second path) is based upon the active use of this material and its insertion into another context,
into the body of Today. What I mean is the situation in which the collection of an archive and the process of its presentation flow together. In this unified whole, it is often hard to tell where the archive’s basic material ends and where its commentaries begin. Without any interruption whatsoever, the collected documents are included in other exhibitions, publications, installations, once again crossing over into the category of an artwork. This creates a more complex figure for conservation in culture, which could be called a “personal dynamic archive.” The Archive-Alien has more trouble digesting this nontraditional figure in its womb, hiding it in the clandestine organs of its swollen body. In this case, the artistarchivist plays the role of Odysseus, running away of all of those who try to trap him in this or that dead end, in this or that descriptive system. In doing so, he creates the mythological fabric of a narrative that brings real archival material into the world of poetics. After all, the cultural archive has always tended to move in this poetic-mythological direction anyway. As paradoxical as it may seem, omissions, discrepancies, mistakes, gerrymandering, or the feelings and emotions of those who describe various events increase the archive’s chance of conserving its materials.