Words, that are not

What do words resemble? Leonid Lipavskiy probably thought they resemble atoms: the cores of words spin, repelling or attracting letters, and thus new words come into being. This 1935 scientific fantasy testifies to the emancipation of words. Just like objects, they have been liberated from the control of man and lead their own materialistic existence. Words once set free, released from their cages in 1913 by the futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, have now come back to us a hundred years later at the exhibition of Sergey Shekhovtsova (Porolon), together with the city's doves or pigeons, who have roosted on the words "Мир" (Peace) and "Love".

Porolon – a unique sculptor who can transform everyday foam rubber into the image of literally Everything – decided to present a world of abstract concepts, special words that represent the fundamentals of life and that are also prone to change beyond recognition (surely everyone knows that peace is war, from George Orwell's experience in the international detachment in the Spanish civil war in 1936).

Porolon avoids the most widespread politicized approach of representing words as convenient tools for society's theatrics. His versions don't reference the slogans of Komar-Melamid, Erik Bulatov, or Barbara Kruger, or electronic displays with Jenny Holzer's exhortations, or the seductive neon mantras of Bruce Nauman or Tracy Emin. More specifically, it's all there, but in the form of reality itself, already familiar, adapted to ideological trends, technological innovations and the human factor, as pigeons grow accustomed to their ledges and adapt to the bustle of feet on the sidewalks.

Porolon's words are metaphors for what we are living right now. Our freedom is a block of cheese with one end stuck in a mousetrap. And naturally it's written in English, like hope and love – three souvenirs from the countercultures of the 60's. Our hope is a frayed and worn rope, or a rainbow fountain of spray escaping a can of energy drink. Our leisure is motley graffiti on a concrete fence with a lonely palm tree visible behind it, and of course this is "rest" while it is also "the rest" – all that was left for us. Our anger is made out of nails from the Zero artists, or maybe from the rust of developed socialism, while heaven is old brickwork hidden behind a thick layer of plaster. And up on top, our peace sticks out over the roof, covered in pigeon droppings, glowing in a red neon tube next to its neighbor, the surveillance camera. And we also have harmony, the most complex word, with stray badminton birdies and tennis balls that have lodged between its letters. Harmony is teetering on a barrel and is balanced at the end by a brick, for what else could it be? Although it looks suspiciously like the uninvited balls are what is steadying it.

In Porolon's world, everything is exact, everything is true, and everything is "the realism of real life," in the words of Dostoevsky, who was thinking of those striking occasions when the nature of things is suddenly enlightened by a moment of truth. Art, as we all know, exists because of such paradoxical events. Porolon is mindful of the faith that overshadows his craft. And perhaps this is why he unites "Hope," "Мир" (Peace) and "Рай" (Heaven) with the oldest beginning in human history expressed in two languages: "Once upon a time" and "Жили-были". In both cases, this "once upon a time" is represented by a fence. There are gates both here and there at the castle, and the skull of a totem cow is impaled on a spike to protect against neighboring evil spirits. There are some minor differences between the households, but the most important thing is they both have a flower pot and a planter hanging on the fence – because as soon as they erected a stockade, they had to decorate it. Maybe the builder and the landscape designer were one and the same, combining both of the world-changing forces: restrictive and expansive, destructive and creative.


Ekaterina Andreeva