AXIS OF REVOLUTION
Moscow, Russia, 2014
residency at Elektrozavod gallery
with Ekaterina Vasilyeva
two artists walked 45 km in 17 hours from the very North point of the city of Moscow to the very South, carrying a metal construction element of rectangular section of 6 m and 13 kg
Axe de Révolution (2014) is a 17-hour performance, during which the artists silently walked through Moscow from the very North point of it on the orbital highway to the very South point, carrying a 6 meter long 13,5 kilo heavy metal structural element of rectangular section. While the Sun was moving from the East to the West, they were heading forward along a straight 45 km long line through the city, synchronizing their way across Moscow’s circular urban structure, that in its shape reminds the Copernican heliocentric model (Copernican Revolution), and constructing a cross with the trajectory of the Sun. The initial latin term revolution, as coined by Copernicus, means circular motion, while in everyday use it expresses a drastic overturn (usually in political sense). Further from being historically charged with the imaginaire of the Great Russian revolution, this ambivalence underlines artists’ intention ‘to coordinate the movement of a cosmic body’ and their ‘intimate endeavor of inner profound revolution’ .
Axe de Révolution serves as a powerful example of an abstract performance of absolutely non-functional nature, a pure semantic entity, that originated in the specific context and only gains its emotional intensity and meaning in relation to it. After extreme tightening of the internal politics, and return of state violence in 2011, 2014 became the point of no return in the contemporary Russian history. In the heat of war in Ukraine, it became clear that the country has taken the direction of repressive state, the beginning of return to the USSR’s politics of propaganda, state lies, blindness, isolation and nationalism. At this moment in history, two women, carrying a heavy iron beam through the streets of the Russian capital reference at once several layers of political, historical and cultural reality: a famous episode of Vladimir Lenin’s biography — carrying a beam together with the workers on the 1st May, 1920; the routine of construction works in contemporary Moscow landscape; the power relations structured by the city planning. In the climate of hysteria and paranoia that took over the mainstream media reality, the performance was perceived by many as a political protest action. It touched the nerve, provoked fear of another revolt, another anti-state action. A number of journalists, including the ones from state television, normally ignorant to contemporary art, arrived to cover the procession. In 2015 for the performance Axe de Révolution the artist duo was nominated for Kandinsky prize.
text by Katya Krupennikova
published in Cat. The End Of The World, Prato, Italy, 2016
August 11, 2014
AXE DE REVOLUTION
Solution to a problem of a line in space
Action : two persons carry a metal trigger on their shoulders
Duration / Distance : 17 hours - 45 km
Place : city of Moscow
Departure : 5:40 (sunrise) - the very North point of Moscow on the orbital highway
Central Point : 13:24 (zenith) - Square of Revolution, geographical center of Moscow
Arrival : 22:40 (sunset) - the very South point of Moscow on the orbital highway
Lifted from the ground, extracted from the plane surface, this line is shifted to the space, which unfolds around it due to the effort of the carriers. It sets the space in motion, pierces it, makes its mobility tangible, educes it. In relation to landscape and architecture the experience of the size of the tube changes. It ties the bodies of the carriers and at the same time it forces them to stay in distance, sharing the burden.
The axis is a condition: an object which creates meaning that we perceive while marching and carrying. We extract an ordinary gesture (two workers carrying a construction object) from the context of building, we deprive it of its commonly approved functionality and liberate it from class identity. Our action is a ceremony and a ritual.
The axis is a pivot which we create through marching and carrying. It is a foundational element around which events unfold as well time and space. Our movement is an attempt to pierce abstraction and geometry through an unusual endeavour.
The axis is a conventionality: a supposed line which pierces a supposed ring. In reality this vertical axis doesn’t exist - we create it through marching and car- rying. In a plane a movement from North to South is a top to bottom movement perpendicularly to the trajectory of the movement of the Sun from left to right. The movement of the carriers is a motion forwards whereas the movement of the sun doesn’t exist at all: this choreography is possible only due to rotation of the Earth around its axis of revolution. The axis is therefore connection between the factual and the sensed.
Body and city are interrelated. Our relation with a city are conditioned by our bodily experience of it. We are interested in exploring the margins of the city, topographic as well as social and semiotic, and also in enquiring what the city excludes from the mundanity for reasons of utility, practicability and common sense.
Extraordinary and unusual length of the pathway and the size of an object create conditions for extreme concentration needed for accomplishing a mission that has no practical value and purpose. Our movement creates a common experience not of a functional relation, but of a relation of intimacy: sensual experience and interaction between the marching and dynamical space of the city. The city ceases to be an abstract cartographical phenomenon, but becomes a real bodily experience, a long pilgrimage.
Unusual conditions of bodily practice, which we intentionally create, engender a different way of seeing and living the city, which means it maintains a new memory and a possibility of an alternative history.
Ekaterina Vasilyeva & Hanna Zubkova
screenshots from the video, 10 hours