CASH: IX Shiryaevo Biennale of Contemporary Art



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Юрген Киерспель | Juergen Kierspel

seven white lines

The Head of the village administration never looks surprised any more. Elderly villagers nod their heads approvingly, youths try to make fun of us, local artists help me in my work and visitors just step on my contribution to the symposium without even noticing it. Only goats don't care a fig.

This August has been my third coming to Shiryaevo. My first symposium in 1999 turned out to be 2 days shorter than planned, as I had to be operated on for appendicitis in Vladivostok. In the year 2000 because of the pouring rain we happened only to visit the Repin museum. Only this year I was finally lucky to appreciate the beauty of local nature, the hospitality of the villagers and the company of artists from all over the world.

The weather was great, as well as the food. The house, where I and Oksana lived, was very cozy. There was peace and harmony in the artists' community. If it wasn't for the symposium, who could even dare think about creating anything in this "paradise on Earth"?

But still I had an idea I wanted to realize in Shiryaevo. That's why Roman seized up a can of white paint from Samara for me. My classes of painting, taken long ago, proved quite useful…

Someone told me the main street of the village had been constructed by German prisoners-of-war. That's why, being a German myself, I thought it was only natural to add many years later one more attribute to its look. I am German.… but I'm very prone to self-irony.

During my Russian travels I noticed that in this country cars, not pedestrians, had preference on the road. Loiter one moment - and you'll find yourself under the wheels! Being an incorrigible optimist by nature, I decided to paint a pedestrian crossing sign on the main street of Shiryaevo, at the bus stop, not far from the nearby canteen. They were seven bars of equal width at equal distance from one another; it was monochromatic neoconstructivism, marked with a brush on asphalt.

Me and Oksana started working on the hottest day and went on until unbearable heat and the fumes from drying paint exhausted us completely. Zauresh from Kazakhstan showed me the right way to hold the brush. "This is how I usually paint the walls in my kitchen", ? she said. We were speaking French.

The paint dried out soon. Cars, passing by, helped gradually cover the white bars in gray dust, goats left their excrements on them. After a day or two the crossing looked as if it had always been there. So be it.

The youngest driver I saw in Russia was about 8 years old.

Jurgen Kierspel, Stuttgart