A C T U A L I Z I N G R E V O L U T I O N
A Revolutionary Legacy and the Avant-Garde in the Context of Artistic Research and Contemporary Art Practice
Many European folk rituals contain elements of a subversive nature, relying on This research project focuses on the problem of artistic reflection on history and legacy of revolution. The aim of the project is to practically examine different methods and strategies of reflection on the topic – both in artistic works and theoretical writings – within the context of Artistic Research as an academic discipline [or an interdisciplinary field]. So far, it has never been done before. The starting point here is the understanding of revolution as a kernel of modernity and the origin of modern subjectivity. In the words of philosopher Artemy Magun, “Revolution is an essential modernist concept denoting a historical event which divides history in two and represents a “stopper” against the potential of reverse motion [...] today’s world has been produced, in full, by a revolution that has not yet happened.” In the particular Finnish-Russian context, the revolution of 1917 was the turning point that has generated the complex historical paradigm that still determines the interrelationship between the two neighbor countries. In a certain sense, revolution is an 'ear-worm', a catchy melody that still sounds there on the background; that probably means that it makes sense, sometimes, to listen to it carefully. The research project implies an interdisciplinary field of research at the intersection of art, history, and theory. A research design will employ a several research-based art projects, such as following:
A MUSEUM OF A MUSEUM OF LENIN. A research-based temporary art exhibition dedicated to the history of Lenin museum-apartment in Hakaniemi, Helsinki (opened in 1976; closed in 1993; is now a private flat). There, at Sörnäisten rantatie 1, in the apartment of Finnish social democrat Kustaa Rovio, Lenin lived for a couple of weeks short before the October Revolution, hiding from the prosecution of the Provisional Government, working on his book State and Revolution.
For this project, a small apartment in the building had been rented. The idea of the project is nor to simply to re-create the interior of the house of that time, neither that to make a populist, an entertainment-oriented display. On the contrary, the point is to create a conceptual museum of a museum. The logical operation of 'museum of a museum' is a dialectical one (akin, e.g., negation of negation) that steamed from the strategies of Conceptual art, and based on the methods of historiography [we have no access to the past as such, we only have access to its descriptions – archival sources, interpretations, museum narratives, etc]. The exhibition is to be held in autumn 2017.
THE VERY LAST FUTURIST EXHIBITION. The project combines the method of the actualization [of the leftist avant-garde] with the approaches and strategies of Conceptual art. The name of the project refers to the prominent The Last Futurist Exhibition (1915-1916) in Petrograd where Malevich's The Black Square was shown for the first time.
The basic idea is the renewal and actualization of the programs of the revolutionary art of the 1920s in the two following contexts: the general context of contemporary art, and the particular context of Artistic Research. Actualizing the visual language of the avant-garde (or, more precisely, the avant-garde as the revolutionary mode of visibility) in the context of contemporary art means today to be faithful to the daring creativity and the emancipatory impulse of the artists of the 1920s. Actualizing the avant-garde artists' writerliness as an essential form of artistic research means to provide a bridge between the strategies and approaches elaborated in the avant-garde artists’ writings and today’s Artistic Research as a modern academic discipline. This ongoing project has currently resulted in my presentation Future in the Past as the Imperfect Tense (Kuva Research Days conference, 2015), and in the contribution to the 3rd issue of Rab-Rab Journal for Political and Formal Inquires in Art (Nov. 2016).
Ilya Orlov (1973) is an artist and historian, a PhD candidate at the The Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki. He graduated from the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (a partnership of St. Petersburg State University and Bard College, NY), where he majored in history, philosophy, political sciences and art. His undergraduate work focused on revolutionary mourning rituals in 1917, and he authored an MA-dissertation on aesthetics of nature and issues of landscape in contemporary curatorial studies. Orlov addresses artistic research from the standpoint of critical theory, the avant-garde, and post-conceptual approaches. He has exhibited at the State Museum of Political History, St. Petersburg; the National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow; the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, The State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow. He also participated in the 4th Moscow Biennale; in the Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg. In 2014 he shortlisted for Innovation Prize, the Russian state award for contemporary art. Ilya Orlov is a member of Rab-Rab committee, a board of Rab-Rab: Journal for Political and Formal Inquiries in Art.