CASH: IX Shiryaevo Biennale of Contemporary Art



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Юрий Альберт

Blindfold tour VIII
museum project

I have been always interested by the place and destination of spectators in the fine arts, and many of my works are dedicated to the phenomenon of место “spectatorship”.

This time, offered is an ordinary tour of the Samara Picture Gallery for the invited participants. The guide is supposed to articulate the text in a usual manner должен: “Look there, in this picture you see so and so”. The only difference is that all the participants will be blindfold. The tour will last for about an hour, and all the time the persons on tour will try to imagine or recollect the masterpieces described by the guide, simultaneously counteracting the fear of stumbling over something, falling down, or bumping into the wall.

Similar performances have been once conducted in many museums of the world from Italy to Moscow, including the Berlin Picture Gallery, the Town Museum of Perugia, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and in the Ludwig Museum in Cologne.

I have always been of the opinion that imaginary art or recollected art is better and more interesting than what we see in reality, and it is my hope that all the participants will see by their inner vision such an art that I am unable of imagining at all.

Yury Albert

Fragment of the review «Check for durability: Shiryaevo biennale» (a part 2)

News agency CULTURE GiF.Ru

Finally, long-expected Albert has come. To conduct an action in Samara Art Museum of “Blindfold excursion” type. Before going to halls everybody's eyes were bandaged with black bands and started the excursion impressions of which can be compared with nothing. To cognize the visual worked senses that usually do not participate in the process – hearing and touch. Usually it is not allowed talk loudly, touch anything, one just gazes at the pictures, shrinks into himself and becomes pure sight, flesh cover sort of disappears. Here fleshliness comes back: one touches walls, doors, and feels himself volume in space, which should be saved from injuries. One touches those who going next to him to direct them or find out direction, speaks aloud where to go next. Museum rules are violated but spectator anxious fellowship is created. Hearing intensifies, out of what a museum guide says suddenly one starts to distinguish figures of speech, like: “as you see”, “obviously” and other similar ones, which sound like a wipe. One starts to experience general mistrust to words: "on the right you can see a portrait of Katherine II”. Is that really it, is it fraud or
not? And then something deeper – if the museum guide interprets it correctly? But still, it was interesting to listen to pictures.
Especially touching was a museum guide's story about Perov's picture “The Blind”. "The picture shows a magnificent view of Russian nature – rivers, fields, and hills. The blind beggars grope along the road that goes from the church on the hill. They are pitiful because they cannot see that beauty. That's why all is left for them is going to church".
One of Albert's action participants addressed to the guide asking her to let him tell about one of the pictures in an art hall of the beginning of the 20th century. She allowed guessing how he was going to do that. "The case is that I can talk about it with my eyes closed. It belonged to my grandpa and grandma. I liked to sit in an arm-chair beneath it. When hard times came my parents sold it to the museum. This is Sapunov's school. Fruits lie on the surface of a polished table and reflect in it. If to gaze at it, one can see also reflections of three men in the table. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky to see them". That time no one saw them but everyone believed they exist.
The guide confused in an avant-garde hall: if one can tattle for hours about triumph of Itinerants narrative discussing varieties of life of picture characters, then here it requires accuracy of description and not earthy one but of an art critic. Malevich's “Living in a big city” was described as follows: “This is an absolutely abstract picture. Malevich said he pictured “Metropole” hotel. We can see townspeople faces somewhere”. Here one of women from audience required the narrator to find her position, if there are faces on the picture then it is figurative and not abstract. There was no distinct answer. Although the picture can be called abstract if we consider an abstract picture to be the one on which there is nothing concrete to be seen. And for all action participants it was equal to the “Black Square” from the point of view of intesionality.

Diana Machulina

Catalog 2007