Relative Exhibition

V.B.: When I try to compare the artistic life of that time with that of today, the main difficulty is to document it: To find actual, real events, not only internal processes. Concrete shows, actions and events.
Y.L.: The main history of that time is a history of being introduced to each other, getting to know each other. It was the same in Moscow – just as in any underground scene.
Exhibitions were not the main thing. We saw each other every day and each work was immediately discussed, so the exhibitions had more to do with the wish to acquire some minimal social status. To gain at least some attention from the older generation which was hanging out at Solnechnaya at Rita’s. On one hand we knew this wasn’t the main thing. On the other hand, just the mere notion that you participate in an exhibition, that your work has on purpose been taken from your studio to a different venue, it hung among other works and somebody came especially to see it - my God!
V.B.: You did participate in the exhibition “Relatives”? Tell us about it.
Y.L.: The story goes like this: First, a real exhibition of works had been planned. Once Rita gave us a hint: “You’d like to make an exhibition? Look at these walls, you can’t hang anything on them. For two years I’m telling Seryozha to do something with it”. What she was saying was: Renovate them. And so we did. – And we got stuck there, especially Lyonya and I. Lyonya was a DIY sort of guy, but the rest of us, especially I absolutely wasn’t. Lyonya’s principle was that an artist has to know to do everything. He taught me how to put up a canvass. He taught me how to make a stretcher. At Rita’s he taught me how to plaster the walls. And for several weeks we were plastering the walls. Seryozha, who had to plaster the walls, too, wanted to exhibit his and Lyonya’s collaborative work. But when we were finally finished with doing the walls, it became clear we wouldn’t be making an exhibition but a project called “Relatives”. I was a bit confusing, but because it was Lyonya who had done most of the walls, he kind of had the right to choose what to do.
V.B.: I wonder how you reacted to this suggestion.
Y.L.: I was quite far from these things. And when I started to take an interest in art, I was most interested in abstract expressionism (it is the newest, the most recent art, and everything else is just jokes). But I can say that over a long period of time I make the same conclusion. In Odessa for longer time I was quoted “Well what – performances?! Well, OK then, if Seryozha wants me, I will make him performances.” But somehow I wasn’t much into it.
V.B.: As far as I know, quite a lot of people came to the exhibition and the reaction was different…
Y.L.: The artists of the older generation reacted to this with a negative sense of irony. Honestly, I didn’t get really into it. I had the feeling I was playing someone else’s game. When visitors arrived, I honestly followed Lyonya’s instructions, which were: Tell people about the images (of the artist’s relatives) which were hanging on the wall. And so I told them: This is my sister Larochka from Leningrad, this is this, this is that…

(from the interview with Leonid Vojtsechov

V. B.: Then there were no concepts like "Curator", "Concept"?

L.V.: This exhibition and several other ones afterwards were like curated by me. Idea for that exhibition was in a kind of blende. First we rushed around the town saying that there would be unique pieces in new techniques. As a result there were works with a photographs of parents attached to them. Not only photographs - but those who came to exhibition were taken by guides (changing every hour-hour and a half). Leiderman and Anufriev with a pointer – who is a relative, who is an uncle of whose, where he lives, what profession has. The Peppers, besides, had opera bass for father. So a person would leave the place with a head full of it. "This is uncle Isya, he already left for Brooklyn, and before he lived in Tulchyn...", etc.

V.B.: From the point of view of terminology of those times, was there a word "curator" – simply word? L.V.: Even in Moscow it appeared somewhere around 1990, and in Odessa there was no such word. But I managed all the exhibition – choosing the photographs, composed them on that ruins, I glued them.

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