Est Memoriale

Artists: Ciro Vitale and Pier Paolo Patti
Location: Shiryaevo Village, Samara, Russia
Year of completion: 2013
Researcher: Giusy Checola

Est memoriale, a project composed by an itinerant exploration, a happening, a photo screening, a video and a temporary installation entitled Somewhere, has been publicly presented on the occasion of the VIII Shiryaevo Biennale of Contemporary Art, the largest event of contemporary art in Samara Region. Shiryaevo is a traditional Russian village, an isolated place with 487 residents according to 2010's data, that lays right on the bank of the Volga river, in a wide valley between the Zhiguli Mountains.

The installation Somewhere, the core of the project, consisted of a huge photograph placed on the roof of an abandoned dacha (typical Russian seasonal house), representing the Nikolai’s naked breast, an elderly dweller from Shiryaevo, which is marked by a tattoo depicting Lenin on his left and the cross with Jesus Christ just in the center.

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Est Memoriale has been conceived around the biennial's theme "Screen: between Europe and Asia” that, as curator Nelya Korzhova states, questions the demarcation line of the communication field and the property of the communication as a game in globalized times, in which billions of displays are incorporated. The idea of the trip as the starting point of the project, from Italy to Russia via Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine and back, came up with the artists' need for an autonomous geocultural investigation. It aimed at understanding what remains alive of the Soviet Union in the space between them and Shiryaevo, attempting at getting rid of Western stereotypes and expectations, whilst questioning how we “belong” to a certain thinking system. Somewhere is the result of their experience, that they intended to alter in order to create a paradox, since it revealed the persistence of contradictory Eastern and Western common issues, as they finded in the images and forms of Salvation.

Concerning the relevance of the investigation, it's meaningful that artists obtained financial support for producing the project not only from Russia and from Italy, but also from the global community, thanks to a crowdfunding internet campaign.

Tourists and visitors of the Shiryaevo biennial, who landed in the village with boat trips from Samara, were introduced to Est Memoriale project by going into an open truck and looking at the sequences of pictures turned into images of Eastern memorials by artists taken during the trip, in order to be introduced to Somewhere and its monumental implications as form of representation of cultural, political, social and religious traits of Samara context according by artists. They had the chance to know closely the local dimension by sleeping in the Nikolai's house, thanks to the biennale format that aim at creating a micro-economy by giving financial support to Shiryaevo residents.

The installation, located in the village epicentre, activated strong discussions among locals, artists and visitors, between who knows the effects of the “real socialism” and who knows those of the “advanced capitalism”; between who saw in the monumentality of the image the representation of a collectivity and those who saw the celebration of an individual.

Since the XIX century the evolution of the Shiryaevo historical, cultural and landscape identities, that lead to its touristic vocation, have been affected by the images of the place created by the outdoor paintings of Russian Plein Air movement. In 2013, Ciro Vitale and Pier Paolo Patti have marked the conscience of the place (its landscape) with the image of a territorial paradigm, by representing simoultaneusly a simple Russian man (the society), Lenin (the history) and the cross (the faith).

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency