Blue Noses – From the Transition’s Archives
Gallery of Fine Arts of the National Museum Zadar, Zadar, Croatia
03. June 2015 - 16. July 2015


Curator: Ljubica Srhoj Čerina

This short artistic era of the 1990s was the subject of numerous theoretical and critical analyses in Russia. For example, it was seen as both a “decade of treason” and a “belle époque”, as well as a decade of “unbridled individualism”, “increased conflict”, a decade of “disappointment in the face of the encounter with the myth of joining the international artistic context”; a decade “in which the life of the artistic community was experienced as a permanent political struggle for spheres of influence”, an “unconditionally brilliant epoch”, etc. This multitude of definitions in itself seems to reflect the “multiplicity” and “unsurveyability” of linguistic practices in the Russian arts scene of the time, the disorientation and lack of a central scaffold: ideological, political, art-philosophical. The world of dispersed and floating artistic figures was, undoubtedly, the image of a completely dissipated world.

It was in this world, at the very end of the decade, and no less than at the dawn of the “new Millennium”, that the Blue Noses artistic group appeared. The mass obsession with the advent of this new thousand-year period was in a way responsible for the group’s creation. Before the New Year 2000, the mass media were stoking their readers’ fear, claiming that computer operating systems were allegedly not programme to work in the new millennium, and that after January 1 all systems based on computer software would stop working: television, air traffic, etc. In order to “conquer fear”, the artists organised an international art symposium in Novosibirsk, which included a staging of the “expected technogenic catastrophe”. They locked themselves up for a week in an air-raid shelter, “with no watches, women or alcohol”. One of the participants of this bunkered self-isolation had brought along a camera, which had not been planned. Thanks to this, and to their wish to “entertain themselves”, the now legendary video performances came about. In short video clips showing a series of comical actions, sometimes on the edge of “idiocy”, we see the participants dressed in fur coats and traditional Russian hats with ear flaps, with blue water bottle caps fastened to their noses. Recalling from cultural history the figure of the clown, they emphasized the parodic character of the actions, primarily in relation to all forms and genres of alienated “modern art”. This fortuitously found ad hoc form of expression would become the template, the formal pattern for the group’s future artistic actions.

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