Contemporary art in traditional museum.
Project “Observatory”

Institute PRO ARTE http://www.proarte.ru/ru/programm/festival/07final, Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory, Russian Academy of Sciences http://www.gao.spb.ru/russian/index.html
September, 2007
Curators: Sergei Vassilievich Tolbin, Olesya Turkina
Authors: Elena Gubanova, Ivan Govorkov, Ludmila Belova, Sergey Bugaev - Afrika, Peter Bely (all St.Petersburg), Joulia Strauss (Germany), Susan Klenberg (USA)

Various Observations

The word – “observation” is the most important in astronomy.

The installation is situated in the west department hall of the observatory. Nowadays, direction, administration and Conference hall are located in this building. In the beginning of the Pulkovo there were apartments of the observatory founder Vassily Yakovlevich Struve. According to the local legend, he still shows up there in his dressing-gown and a cigar in his hand. This is not a museum hall; it’s a reception room for director and administration, and sometimes a drink reception room after the science conferences. This is a place, where one anyhow reflects on the past, present and future of the observatory. Photos of the war veterans on the stands, crystal chandeliers, massive sofas and arm-chairs- the elements of the soviet luxury of the fifties…
A lampshade over a round table, four people by the table (we see only their hands); they look through the black and white photos. The photos are mixed up, as are the memories. Something looks familiar, something is forgotten. (a video projection composed of the archive photos).
Through the earphones of the four audio players you can hear the stories about people of Pulkovo, astronomers, their science discoveries and their day-to-day life. In the hall, through the talk, the music of the fifties and seventies can be heard… As old-timers recall, the Pulkovo observatory flourished in the Soviet time from 1956 to 1975. The government was supporting astronomy development and allotted big sums to it. The working and living conditions attracted young scientists. Generally speaking, a unique “scientific heaven” was created there.


They take observations of the stars, the Sun and the Moon in the Observatory. Moreover, the model of exact time is kept there.
How is time being kept in the human memory?
What is kept in the memory: events or feelings? How does the time storehouse look in the human mind: as a chronologically arranged museum exposition or as chaotically flying “galactics” in the universe of the brain?  The photos examination and audio-interviews in this installation demonstrate one of the ways of collecting information by people from their “memory files”.
In the territory of the installation three time periods are showed: the past, the present and the future.
The past is presented by the home atmosphere:  lampshade over a round table, cozy arm-chairs around it, photos and music of the fifties and seventies…
Present time is showed by the contemporary interviews that you can hear, sitting by the table and switching on the audio player.
All the interviews, sounds of music, photos, digitized and recorded will be sent to the museum archives and in this way sent to the future.