Al Gallery.St.Petersburg  http://www.album-gallery.ru/index.php?p=206

curator Stas Savitsky

Family portrait in the interior


10 objects made of plastic.
Each object consists of 2 plastic sheets, the distance between them is 8 sm.
The inner sheet is covered with mirrored plastic. The outer sheet is covered with photos, taken in the Rembrandt Hall in the Hermitage. The photos represent two portraits: “Portrait of a Man” and “Portrait of a Boy”.
Most of the pictures exhibited in the Hermitage, including these two, are covered with glass. The reflections, appearing on this glass, became the theme of the project. Reflections of the today on these objects intermix with the photos of the 17th century portraits.

Contemporary interiors become the part of the image themselves and, as the object is based on the reflections, the image will be different each time depending on the environment.


“Family portrait in the interior” by S.Savitsky


There is no better cemetery for art than museum. Art lover is annoyed there all the time by bossy wards, by mean babushka-custodians, ready to attack anyone, who spends more than two minutes in front of a picture; tourist crowds, than can hardly be managed even by a skilled policeman. And this is just a thin end of the wedge.
Almost a quarter of all exhibits may be hardly seen at all, being either permanently surrounded by a crowd, or out for an exhibition, or hanging somewhere in the darkness, or covered with glass, playing with specs of light and reflections.

And yet, no matter how angry you can be with the temple of art, you cannot do without it. You still have to come here cap in hand, restraining yourself from breaking its military order.

In his time, Italian conceptualist Vito Acconci, could not resist this temptation and discreetly followed museum visitors, until they found this strange spy behind themselves.
“Art and language” group arranged optical illusions, replacing fragments of museum interior by a picture that made it hard to distinguish one from another.
The most inventive established their own museums. Marcel Dushan had a portative museum with mini copies of his own major works, carefully arranged in a small suitcase.

Ludmila Belova arranges herself in museum. She is interested not in the collections and masterpieces, but in everyday life. As on any secure facility there is more than enough of routine. Just to imagine one day of a lady custodian, who has to sit in one room for nearly 8 hours!

In her recent video installation Ludmila has told the story of the Hermitage museum staff. It is very unusual to see museum’s plain everyday life in close-up, with famous masterpieces serving as background. A little person and a big story is one of the main themes of Ludmila Belova. To imperial grandeur and epoch-making events she prefers private life stories. Several years ago she created an alternative history museum that consisted of not the usual exhibits, but incoherent recollections and scattered stories of ordinary people.
“The family portrait in the interior” is another try to give a homey touch to museum. During her photo session in the Hermitage, when she daily life and characters of the museum personnel, the artist’s attention was drawn to the pictures, covered by glass. One can never see the whole picture at once, as the glass always reflects the interior of the room. Museum hides art from us, creating new obstacles. And so quite often instead of a picture we see reflections of yawning tourists, a girl looking out of window, or a profile of dozing old woman. The old things live not only their past life but the present life that surrounds them and has no connections with their story. The photographs on the plastic sheets represent two pictures by Rembrandt “Portrait of a man” and “Portrait of a boy”. It is hard to see the portraits behind the reflections on the glass. On one portrait you can see a curtain behind which there is a half open window; on the other picture you can see reflection of the vase, standing across the room in the corner; on the third portrait the face of Titus is covered by a profile of an old man. The secret of the half transparent cover of these photographs is that they show not just fragments of the museum interior, but they are supposed to reflect the interior around them at the moment. These pictures are the glass in the glass with still reflection. They will live the shared life with the viewer, dissolving life around them in the transparent antique images. The more optic layers there are, the easier the life with inaccessible masterpieces.
We are given chance to run away from the museum-prison, where everyone watches everyone: attendants after custodians, custodians after the visitors, visitors after exhibits (that can be hardly seen), and wards watching after everyone at once. As in the famous film by Visconti, seeing a picture brought in the interior and common life, we learn plenty of new details that seemed superfluous before. It promises not new joys, but new melancholy. The result will not take long: the picture will obtain charm and enigma, that museum failed to save.