More than a hundred years ago, in 1911, the artist Amedeo Modigliani opened a “portrait gallery” of Anna Akhmatova with a series of 16 pictures made during their meeting in Paris. However now, after all these years, the image of Anna is multiplying in invisible mirrors as if not getting rest to artists, readers and admirers, to researchers of her work and myths subversives. Her image demands timeless presence in the present.
What place does the art work of Anna Akhmatova take in space of European and world culture? How are the tragic collisions of her life are understandable for people of other cultural and historical context? The artist Uri Katzenstein faces these issues in the experimental exhibition project “Anna. The Destiny”.
For the artistic dialogue with Anna Akhmatova the artist chooses her composition “Lullaby” (1915). Uri Katzenstein delicately perceives the existential anxiety that fills this piece of poetry. The folklore by its form lullaby of Akmatova (the tale about Tom Thumb) in the second quatrain deviates from the fairytale and passes to the things which trouble and don’t give rest to the lyric heroine. The reason of disturbance – the world war and the participant of this war being in mortal danger, Nikolay Gumilyov (he is not named precisely but it is clearly understood). By the end the lullaby turns into a prophesy-prayer about salvation and immensity of human disasters.
Uri Katzenstein has turned the temperate by the pictorial means and strict by its form this piece of poetry into a new video art object: he translated it into a language of cryptograms invented by himself, put it to a musical rhythmical base and added the voice of a Jamaica blues singer. In the background – video sequence about crumbled by time and oblivion the architectural and sculptural monuments as a metaphor of totalitarian conscience, that cyclically turns back to the humanity with threatening frequency. A human is simultaneously a subject and an object of these cataclysms.
The second important Hubs of the conception – the photo made by Leonid Gorodetsky in the Tsarskoye Selo in 1915. On this photo - Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov and Lev Gumilyov aged 2. Not only the year of the photo and the year of writing the "Lullaby" coincide – on the photo and in the lyrics are the same heroes, including the nonpersonified participant – the world war (Nikolay Gumilyov was wearing the uniform of a subaltern officer of Russian army, with a St. George Cross on his chest). Uri Katzenstein transforms the photo into a video, making the characters change their places, disappear and appear again, “replicating” their ways of disappearances and comebacks into the space of memory and culture.
Uri Katzenstein is an Israeli artist, sculptor and musician, maker of musical instruments and sound machines. He was born in Tel-Aviv in 1951, attended an art school; studied in the academy of sculpture in Milan, in the Art Institute of San Francisco. In 1969 he was ordered to the Israel Defense Forces, took part in the Yom Kippur War (1973). In 1970-1980-s he performed in several musical bands of avant-garde and experimental style. Participant of the Venice Biennale of 2001, the Buenos Aires Biennale of 2003. His works have been exhibited in museums and galleries of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Israel, European countries, USA and South America. Katzenstein is laureate of several prestigious awards and prizes in the field of culture and art.
Under the auspices of the St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum.
13 July – 13 August
The Museum of Anna Akhmatova in the Fountain House (Liteiny pr., 53)