THE OPEN LETTER. To the artists in Russian exhibition at the Louvre Museum in Paris:
Yuri Albert, Andrei Monastyrski, Igor Makarevich, Vitali Komar, Vadim Zakharov, Yuri Leiderman, Valeri Koshlyakov.
Yesterday I learned that my work was banned from going out of Russia for the Louvre show. Immediately, I received an e-mail from Guelman gallery proposing to resolve the situation by exhibiting other works from this series, not censored by the Russian authorities. To avoid the unnecessary aggravation of French-Russian relationships, the works [digital graphics] shall not cross the Russian border but will be printed in Paris. Without a moment's thought, I accepted this proposition. But today I read Guelman’s blog where he announces your decision to boycott the exhibition should Russian authorities stand by their choice, he then thanks you and says that your endorsement is no longer necessary, as the situation was resolved to mutual satisfaction. I was very touched by your support.
I was thinking about it the whole day. And realized, that everything was resolved too craftily. I got a good media exposure and now am ready to spoon of cream. My cooperation with Guelman is convenient to all. I imagined how the Russian ambassador in Paris would smile while opening the show, pretending everything is just fine.
For the past time, I have been in constant contact with artist Oleg Mavromatti, who was refused the Russian passport renewal and threatened with extradition to Russia from Bulgaria [where he currently stays with his Bulgarian wife]. His situation is very serious. I thought how ugly it all finally turns out. My condition is similar to Mavromatti’s. But while my work could be printed in Paris anew with old prints “imprisoned” in Moscow, the new Mavromatti cannot be printed in Sofia or New York, with the old one being jailed in Russia.
So, I decided to abandon this ingenious idea with prints and wrote to Guelman of my decision. With my refusal to participate in the Louvre show, I would like to draw attention to the close ties between culture and political power in Russia and to open up this situation through its aggravation. For my banned work, actually, was created for this exact purpose, and it clearly showed the idiocy of idiots.
For the show to take place as scheduled, and to avoid the unnecessary face loss in front of the unsuspecting French exhibition partners, I extend the following demands to Russian authorities who created this morbid ensituation in the first place. My works must be brought to Paris directly from Moscow as it was initially planned. Russian artist Oleg Mavromatti should be granted his passport renewal. His situation is so absurd and threatening, that it does not even compare to my, generally humorous, story.
Without these two demands being properly addressed by Russian authorities, I refuse to participate in the Louvre exhibition.
It seems to me that this event at the Louvre could be leveraged out. If the eight of us press it in Paris, the Russian Ministry of Culture will be shaken by this move. We always try to solve these kind of problems when it is already too late: when Yerofeev is already tried in court, and Mavromatii is proved to be illegal. I know this from my own experience. We always create the understated "realistic" goals. And since everything looks "normal", we quickly forget about it.
The Louvre exhibition does not pose any serious questions of art. It is simply a demonstration of how everything is wonderful in Russian contemporary art. And this is precisely what I strongly want to contest. I think that boycott of this exhibition will be adequately perceived by artists, and the general public in Russia. By this we will demonstrate our attitude to that monstrous shit that mixes into contemporary Russian culture.
I would be honored by your support, even after this quasi-settlement of the conflict. I certainly understand, that am forcing you to new manifestations of your positions.
But, after all, nothing has really changed.
Avdei Ter-Oganian. Radical Abstractionism. 2004. Works from these series were recently banned from leaving Russia for the Louvre exhibition scheduled to open on October 14, 2004
This work calls for perforced amendment of the constitutional system of Russian Federation
This work assists in formation of armed groups (gangs) in aid of attack on citizens
This work serves an inciting religious hatred
This work afronts His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
This work publishes false facts, discrediting honor and dignity of the Mayor of Moscow Y.M. Luzhkov
This piece was created with a view to aesthetic pleasure
This work desecrates the State Eemblem and Flag of Russian Federation
This work serves for denigration of national dignity of persons of Russian and Jewish origin
This work calls to the infringement on life of a public official, V. V. Putin for the purpose of termination of his public and political activities
This work calls for abuse of corpses, or the destruction or desecration of graves, gravestones and cemetery buildings
This work procures to use of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances
This work encourages individuals under legal age to sexual intercourse, sodomy and lesbianism with the author
This work forces into prostitution
This work serves to total or severable extinction of Russian citizens by homicide, causing wrongful harm or injury, perforced obstruction of procreation, mandatory abandonment of children, perforced resettlement, or otherwise creates unjustified living conditions of life persuant to their physical destruction.