Vadim Zakharov, Andrei Monastyrski. Mouse Hunting
Stella Art Foundation at Mytnaya ulitsa
November 4 – December 5, 2004
Exhibition program of Stella Art Foundation-Russia starts with the exhibition of two cult authors. Andrey Monastyrsky - one of the fathers and main ideologists of Moscow conceptual tradition, Vadim Zakharov - its main participant, collector, archivist and publisher. The word "cult" means here not so much "fashionable and elite" as concerns cult and culture. Zakharov' and Monastyrski's total installation "Mouse Hunting" seems to clearly show this connection - connection with Eastern spirituality. No one can find any sociological intonations in this project, it doesn't have any signs of all these "contemporary and up-to date" tendencies, that became standards of present art scene. But "Mouse Hunting" is witty and elegant. Zakharov installs the form of zen rock-garden in the gallery space, and Monastyrski surrounds this garden with photographs pierced with "golden" rivets reminding constellations.
Andrei Monastyrski on the project: "In the Odes of Wei section of the ancient Chinese book Shi Jing there is a poem called Large Mouse. Its refrain goes like this: "Large mouse! Large mouse! Do not eat our springing grain!" The "large mouse" which appears for the first time in this old verse (symbolizing an exploiter and blood-sucker, among other things) has subsequently become a classical literary "character". In some sense, it is this mouse which is also the real central figure of our exhibition "Hunting the Mouse" - at least, it is clear from the exhibition's title and the context it creates. The cheese in Vadim Zakharov's installation serves as a sort of a bait for this mouse, while my three owls under a gauntlet from the Golden Lines series and the image of an eagle's (or it could be falcon's or hawk's) head on a truck on the Biokombinat sheet of the same series are, in effect, the actual hunters of this mystical gigantic mouse".
Vadim Zakharov on the project: "My installation is based on a story of a mouse I once thought of. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, a mouse found its way into an old monk's bowl lured by a huge piece of French cheese with inimitable, heavenlike smell. The monk saw the mouse, smiled, scratched its ear and said: "Well, I give you this piece of cheese as a gift forever. Put in on the sandy floor of our monastery garden and keep it safe as your own precious self. Because if you eat this piece which is many times your size, you are going to turn into an elephant and die." The mouse didn't eat a single crumb of it since then. The very next day, the old monk disappeared from the monastery never to be seen again, while the mouse still lives and is going to live so long as the untouched piece of cheese lies on the sand.
I think, the monk meant one very simple thing: it is impossible to comprehend more than could be grasped by one single mind. The mouse got the point at once - unlike me, an author in a mouse skin, still remaining in full ignorance. I don't understand a thing. I got lost in space and time. I drift between countries and continents. My clothes, my thoughts became rags and tatters of diverse cultures and associations, and yet I am at the same point wher I began. I am sitting before the cheese, full of indecision, and begin to guess that if I don't eat the cheese, I won't ever understand anything, but, if I do, I'll lose the eternity and my the peace of mind".
The Foundation has published an illustrated catalogue of the exhibition with essays by Vadim Zakharov, Andrei Monastyrski and Vladimir Levashov.