Moscow - Conversations - Not to talk - Brotherhood - Inspection - Success or not - Gorbatschovism - NOMA - Ideologization of Unknown - Structure - Context - Performances - LINKS
Die Auflösung und Umgestaltung des Ostblocks seit 1987 korrespondierte mit Entwicklungen und Neuorientierungen auch in der Kunst und Kultur der ehemaligen Sowjetunion und Rußlands. - Die Gruppe "medizinische Hermeneutik" war einerseits eine direkte Reaktion auf diese Phänomene, andererseits entwickelte sie einen neuen Standpunkt, aus dem Kontext der Kunst heraus, aber darüber hinaus gerichtet. Auffällig ist zudem, mit welcher Konsequenz und Erfolg sich die Gruppe und ihr Umfeld als Kristallisationspunkt einer "konzeptionellen Moskauer Schule" inszeniert haben.
Das folgende Gespräch führte der Autor im Juni 1997 mit Pavel Pepperstein, einem der Gründer der Gruppe, in seinem Kölner Atelier, wo der Moskauer zeitweise arbeitet.
Da Pepperstein kaum deutsch spricht, der Autor kaum russisch, wurde das Gespräch in englisch geführt und erscheint auch in dieser Form und ohne Korrektur. In den Links finden sich Verweise auch auf russische Texte und Websites zur medizinischen Hermeneutik im engeren und die besagte Schule im weiteren Sinne.
Klärende Ergänzungen des Autors, die in der Schriftform des Gespräch sonst unklar geblieben wären, sind [in Klammern] gesetzt.
The dissolution and reform of the eastern block since 1987 corresponded with developments and reorientations in culture and art of the former SU and of Russia. The group 'medical hermeneutics' was a direct reaction to these phenomenon, but also it developed a new point of view, out of the art context but aimed beyond. It is also striking to see how the group succeeded in presenting itself as a crystallizing point of a 'moscow conceptual school' of art.
This conversation was held by the author in June 1997 with Pavel Pepperstein, one of the groups founders, in his cologne studio where he works from time to time.
As Pepperstein speaks merely german and the author merely russian the conversation was held in english and is presented here without corrections. Links to russian texts and websites are at the end of this document. Explaining remarks of the author are set [in brackets].
What was the starting situation for the group?
One of this dialogues was translated and published in german, so you can read it, it was about freedom, it is called "contraceptive conversation about freedom". In this dialogue we were discussing one idea of performance. The Performance was: we make big balls of snow in wintertime, then we move with big balls, each man and woman has one ball, [sitting and] holding in a flat in a room, around big table, each has a ball in front of him or her, and then we must speak, only one rule: we do not speak like men, but we have to imagine us to be gods. And in process of speaking, each of participants must observe the process of melting of the snowball. (illustrates) Because: form of ball is absolute form, ideal, at first we identify with this ideal form, in the beginning we are gods, we created our own worlds, like each of us had created the universe. But, because we are sitting in a warm room, the balls will melt and we have to think about this. And speak [about melting]? No, the question is, how this process willl influence our speech. And of course, at the end, when balls are absolutely melted, when we have only dirt in our hands and this uncomfortable feeling in our trousers, we are men, not gods anymore, we have lost our divinity.
We didn`t realize this performance, because thinking about
it we deeply meditated about this idea, so it was not neccessary to realize. But the
idea of this not realized performance did absolutely influence our work. You can read
it in the catalogue of Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, it is a book edited for our exhibition
... We make conversations with tape recorder.
During the third conversation, brotherhood,
following the logic of our discourse, we decided to make a group "Inspection medical
hermeneutic". It was NOT about brotherhood, NOT connected, like a system of rings,
a chain with nine rings (illustrates).
Taste but not eating? Yes, tasting, not eating, I doubt that it is very good english.... (laughter)
Again - the last conversation: about brotherhood. We found it the
most agressive of this list of words - it is one of the
most totalitarian projects, like the society would be a family.
Then we were talking about how to protect against this brothers, we are not brothers
although we are talking.
[The concept of] Brotherhood is very old, from archaic rituals, when in tribals younger teenagers should be isolated in a magic house, were very hardly treated from spiritual teachers, they must learn magic rituals - this was brotherhood for them, it was always spiritual unity, it starts when you are taken from family, from mother, like in monastry (Kloster) or army. In ethnology they call it "male houses".
Conscience! - Mind, honour, (Gewissen) - in russian it is...: UM chest sovest, is very very important for russian philosophy and spirituality, it is aristrocatic ethic complex. They don't speak about spiritual practice, meditation for instance, they say UM - for my interpretation it is from sanskrit, like um mani pamtme um- cleverness is like lotus flower. Also has a meaning like proudness.
Then we start with another text, we called it "unsere gemütlich Kampf" [german for: our pleasant fight], it was one text in german. Just one of the preambles of founding our group.
But the main thing was the idea of inspection, we were not group but inspection. Everyone around us were doing something - working,
But the highest category, we called:
So for many artists of our surrounding of artists, friends, it
was funny influence
on them, because it was time when the west became
important; and consciously
or not they started to think about success or not in context with western curators, critics,
visitors. And we tried to create alternative "government for art",
alternative system of criterias.
First we told the artists to work less, to stop. They all wanted
to prepare for a possible career. They made the psychic condition not so good with so
much work. So we made propaganda for not so much
Was the old [political] system still valid [in 1987]? - It was the time of deep Gorbatschovism, liberty, Perestroika
- but nobody knew it was going [to stay] this way or to a new totalitarian system. We
were not optimistic, many pessimistic, even we.
Our first public lecture was in Moscow University in January 1988 on a conference
called "new languages in art".
And we created special formula which could be used as
a base, fundament for this "Ideologization of Unknown". We called it Formula of Unknown:
Another definition of this lecture was a new term for circle of
Moscow conceptual art. And
this word is NOMA (writing on interviewer´s block) - Normalna! - Like "normalna"
without "r". This word became deeply to language, everybody use it, was very
... sucessful. It is a voluntaristic word but comes from a group of associations, first
of all: Nom - was in old egypt: districts in egypt that were named
by parts of Osiris' body.
So it is possible to say this lecture was historic, it was a successful
preposition, became part of dictionary of russian art, at least.
Medical hermeneutics - does it still exist?
- Yes. Next idea was the idea of "void canon", like book of laws - concept
of void, emptyness is also central idea of conceptualism. In spring 1988 we start to
work on second book [after
that first book with 9 conversations].
The group is closely defined? -
More of structures of Medical Hermeneutics, there is history of structure, it could be a longer story of itself.
...performances... Like the chess tournament, a big table (illustrates)... Instead of chessboard it was just white papers, instead of chessplay we were writing dialogues on paper, was very funny, some were philosophers, some were friends which were very comic [funny], third group were women who worked in the institutes. 1. group, philosophers, reacted on the word "hermeneutic", 2. friends, they react on us because they knew us, 3. women, they react on word "medical", each on a different side of the table. The women asked us about medical questions, different type of healing, psychical etc. So they asked us to help them.
What means of action and communication are used? - Exhibition, installation, art pieces. Sometimes we teached, for example
I was guest professor in Frankfurt, Hamburg. We gave a lot of lectures, cooperations
with authors, a lot of literature. Literature is very central for russian culture, as
central column. Then performances, for example institute of philosophy in moscow, "seance
of simultaneous discourse", we invited different people. - So, we are not fixed
on a certain type.