Multimedia Complex of Contemporary Arts,
ARS 06 KIASMA Museum, Helsinki
9 X 9 M
5 DVD PROJECTIONS, 150 COMPASSES,
WOOD, DRAWINGS, PHOTOGRAPHS
The project concept is based on a conventional fallacy that there are lands, countries and places, where life is better, simpler and happier. Lands where one wants to go to. In the memory of generations this urge is subconsciously excited by the process of substantial rejuvenation, which cherishes the notion of EDEN – the promised land, where the imagination lures restless souls to. The Russian soul strives to reach the poles, seeks warmth, sings foreign songs, praises the Chinese cuisine, and celebrates religious holidays of every confession. In this restless movement, following the clear idea of going to where «the grass is greener», to every individual, social groups, and political elite alike, an illusory «where» opens.
By carrying out his artistic research, Alexander Ponomarev made an effort of defining the reference point, the zero reference location and verifying directions, as he was swimming along the Prime (Greenwich) meridian to the Antarctica. An examination of spatial relations in order to identify their true ethic and aesthetic landmarks is what the artist finds important. As Ponomarev explains, «In the field of ideas, the «absolute zero» is nothing but the ultimate beginning, the liberation from prejudice, false knowledge and superstition. It is never late to start from the scratch, as long as the navigation aids are functioning properly…» Moving across the ocean surface, the artist keeps the energy focus centred on the ship. His own artistic considerations allow the author to «wash eyes» and carry out the «adjustment of directions ». The artist himself acts as a compass; his sensors are the organs of sight, hearing and touch. With their help, he describes directions in keeping with the course of the vessel along the prime meridian to the north, south, east and west. His artistic and scientific equipment is the vessel with its navigation aids and the crew, as well as a special green laser-like device, which enables a more precise adjustment.
The installation divides the exhibition space into four major directions. The east is mysticism, mystery, the beginning. The west is rationality, order, consistency. The north is austerity, force, purity. The south is happiness, warmth, wellbeing, hope, novelty. This division invites the viewer to pay attention to each of the cardinal sides of the world. The four projections on each of the four walls are linked with the line of the marine horizon. A wooden table of considerable size, its top being covered with compasses, needles of which float in alcohol, occupies the central part of the hall. The horizon line on the walls changes slowly, reflecting the shooting of directions done during the voyage. Major features of landscapes at all sides of the world and all directions seem to be focused in the exhibition hall, being structurally linked together with the horizon line. Every three minutes Ponomarev’s head emerges on the four screens. His eyes are fixed on the table. The tabletop islit. There is a pause of meditative strain, and all four heads turn (for example) to the north: – one head looks at the table, two others - the eastern and the western ones – are in profile, while the southern one shows its back. The northern head slightly blows at the table, and the needles of 200 compasses simultaneously point to the south, emphasizing the southern direction. After another two minutes the heads show themselves again; the same happens, but emphasizing the north, and then the west and the east. The needles are controlled via an audio channel in agreement with the video sequence. The installation was presented in the multimedia complex of contemporary arts at the Vtorzhenie exhibition at the First Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art; it contained an extensive series of drawings made in the manner of a logbook, several videos and the central piece, where the needles of 150 specially manufactured compasses rotate and change their direction to point to different cardinaldirections.