[ Image: Miina Hujala ]


HUHTIKUU – KESÄKUU
April / June
/

ILYA ORLOV
1917: Weighed, Up-Measured, Divided


Ilja Orlovin näyttely Alkovissa käsittelee vallankumouksen representaation mahdottomuutta,  tässä tilanteessa liittyen vuoden 1917 vallankumouksiin, ja erityisesti maaliskuun 1917 mielenosoituksiin, jota Orlov on tutkinut. Näyttely käsittelee Orlovin sanomalehti-arkistosta löytämää kuvausta banderollista, jossa oli kuvattuna kolme sanaa ’punnittu, ylös-mitattu, jaettu (suomeksi vapaasti käännettynä.) Valokuvaa lipusta ei ole löytynyt, mutta 'lippu' on jättänyt vahvan jäljen mielenosoituksia kuvaaviin artikkeleihin.

Next exhibition in Alkovi will be from artist / historian Ilya Orlov. It examines the unrepresentable moment – in this case attached to the revolutions of 1917 which Orlov has studied already for a period of time. He came across a description of a banner in the newspapers reporting the demonstrations on March 1917. The image of the banner hasn’t been found anywhere but it had left impression on the reporters – possibly due to the specific words it contained: Weighed, Up-Measured, Divided (here translated in english.)


"How to approach the experience and nature of revolution, the revolutionary moment of the 'rupture of time', giving the condition of the impossibility of [mimetic, metaphorical, sensual, etc.] representation in art, as well as that of the principal inaccessibility of time as a pure transcendental designation in our human perceptual experience? Perhaps, the answer lays somewhere in between object and word, image and enunciation.           

            
 The idea for this work came while I perused 1917's newspapers reports on the funeral of the victims of the February revolution in Petrograd on the 23rd March 1917 – a grandiose demonstration with more than one million participants involved, described by contemporaries as completely unprecedented “parade and review of all the revolutionary forces.” Giving the apparently huge multitude of flags, slogans, and banners involved in the demonstration, it looked it was not by chance that three of the major newspapers described in details the same banner they have noticed among the revolutionary crowds. As reported, it was a “huge banner with the image symbolically depicting the year of 1917 divided by the revolution into two parts: the Past with all its horrors – suppression, inequality, tyranny, and the Future, full of hope and happiness; the caption on the banner was: 1917: Weighed, Up-Measured, Divided.”   

                    I investigated the issue in the historical museums in St. Petersburg, but failed: there was even no photo-documentation of the banner remained. All I had was the 1917 newspapers reports. On the other hand, I had no illusions about the artistic quality of the banner: I kept in mind that the visual culture of that time (between the February and October revolutions of 1917) was quite conservative – a neo-classicist and symbolist imagery combined with the Jugendstil fonts was the dominated visual morphology, even for the revolutionary banners of the period. 


It was a time of economic crisis and instability, a hard situation at the front, universal euphoria over revolutionary liberation, total uncertainty about the future, and potential social fissure. Who among the artist of that time could reflect the proper way all that multiple political tensions and contradictions, that revolutionary “rupture of time”, that “division the time into two parts”? I guess it were the avant-garde artists, whose works were not recognized by the public of the period. The exemplary of the possible language came to my mind was V. Tatlin's Corner relief (1915) with its ropes stretched in tension between two walls, and the strange form hanging on it, in the corner. I think in March 1917 he could hold the same line. I decided to combine two approaches – that was to re-create the lost banner slogan 1917: Weighed, Up-Measured, Divided in Tatlin's way."  


   - Text by Ilya Orlov

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 neo-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 and Checkpoint Helsinki’s Finnish Landscape- exhibition in Seurasaari. 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.

More about the artist:
ILYA ORLOV







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