Since we have this artwork in front of us, I will tell how I came to this form of artwork, painting the
real people and putting them into the expositional space. It happened for the first time last year. By
the way, here is a poster from the exposition that we had in the city of Köln, in Germany. It was
called “Quarantine”. We were invited to do a website, or to be more exact a special project site for
the city of Köln, by several Russian painters. There is this neighborhood “Garden”, which is multicultural,
where Russians, Turks and Arabs live. A little bit of everyone. The administration gave the
painters an old store, which went bankrupt. It was called “Schlecker”, these stores stay empty now all
over the country. So the local administration gave the artists a room of this store and asked them to
do something there to attract the locals’ attention to art. We arrived to participate in this project.
There were drunkies by the entrance of the store, who came there every day like if it was their work.
We came to the art gallery at 9 in the morning and they were there already, at the corner of the
store. All day long they looked at us, like we were doing something, through the glass of the
window, and we looked at them, how they drunk all day long until six and then went home. I asked
the local artists, who invited us, if we can get these people, these drunkies that look at us, enrolled
and they said that we can try. We talked to them and I offered to paint portraits of all the participants
of “Quarantine”, these drunkies, and place them in the fore-window of the store. When the dark part
of the day came, the fore-window was illuminated, and, since the portraits were drawn on thin
paper, they were equally seen from the street and from the inside of the gallery. These drunkies were
very happy to participate. Moreover, for the first time during the existence of the art gallery they
came to see the exposition, brought their wives, children and pets. They were glad to participate.
Until the end of the exposition they stayed at the space, talked to us. What is funny is that I received
several orders from their friends, who also wanted such portraits. So it was their first experience.
Lately, there are a lot of projects, that are investigational for me. I arrive. For example, I had a project
that I did in the region of Krasnoyarsk. There was a small residential area, the miners’ town Borodino
in the region of Krasnoyarsk. There is the biggest surface mine in Russia there. Throughout the
whole history of this town, actually, it appeared thanks to the exiles. All its history is the history of
exiles: first – from tsarist Russia, then – from the Soviet Union. Now it is a more or less normal city,
but all the ancestors of the modern citizens are, actually, exiles. For example, arriving there I started
working very closely with the local history museum, we looked up the people’s stories, how they got
there. Then, these stories of the people formed a part of my installation. I had an interest to make an
installation about these people. A lot of times I myself do not know, how successful the artwork is
going to be. Usually, when I finish all of my artworks they either seem unsuccessful or unfinishedto
me. It always feels that something better could have been done. Like the saying goes, there is no
limit to perfection. On the other hand, I always look at the reaction of the people I work with. It is
important for me how people value the artwork.