Totalitarian Bestiary consists of two photo installations: “Trouble” and “Totalitarian Bestiary”. Twelve images make up any exhibition.
“Totalitarian Bestiary” is a glance to inhabitants of an imaginary world: journalists, executioners, office workers, superheroes, advertising managers, police generals and little boys. As well as the fantastic encyclopedias of medieval monks, the hierarchy of the totalitarian bestiary does not separate its residents between best-ones and worst. They are simply laid out neatly in rows on gaudy, bright backgrounds. Like the heroes of a medieval bestiary, the characters of this bestiary accumulate new meanings as it is seen as a whole description of some part of the world.
“Trouble” is a plasticine installation based on the literary works of Gregory Khasin, a writer and translator from St. Petersburg, Russia, who has been living in the United States for many years.
How do we work with children?
The collaboration began as Benjamin Bush started attending a free/democratic school in the Berlin district of Pankow, where many students were involved in the creation of a clay world.
At that school, a whole cultural tradition thrived, in which older children passed along to younger ones the techniques they need to work with clay on “boards”, as they referred to them. The children who developed deep skills as modelers became the owners of a developed world with intricate details, complex characters and elaborate goings-on. Those who were still learning, gradually building their somewhat unsightly “boards”, shared details about the creation.
After about a year of this activity, Benjamin felt able to create “anything you can think about” out of clay. In parallel, in his home studio, Benjamin began to make plasticine people, planets and other projects with his mother, artist Nika Dubrovsky, who recently moved with her family from New York City.
The photographer and her friend Margarita Kabakova tried to shoot these works, but she wondered: how should these items be photographed? Would a “white box” be better? Will a plasticine layouts work out for future movies? Perhaps, a separate genre?
Many of the original plasticine mini-worlds in Benjamin’s free school were fantasies based on computer game played by children at home. What fantasies were based on the world created by medieval monks?
“The Basilisk is the king of snakes.... People see him and run for their lives, as just his odor can kill. Even by looking at a man can he kill. And though this creature the Basilisk might win... God does not leave us without retribution”.
Where did his ideas come from?
Such a series of strange creatures lived their lives, brought into being by literary texts and social structures that still surround us. There was a connection, there, between children and adults, fiction and reality, the professional and the amateur, the terrible and the ecstatic....
Creating Together: The plasticine world workshop
What can we accomplish together with children during the workshop? After all, it will last only two hours, as the exhibit took two years to be ready.
Regarding the art, what is most important is not the process of creation, and the social relationships that arise among people.
During this lesson, we will offer participants a “base world” – a large cardboard surface in the center of a table. Each participant can make his own part and add it to the common work. Anyone may add a resident, a house, a tree, a monster or anything else. All the pieces will be put together, in order to create a unique world, a collective work of all participants.
Totalitarian Bestiary – an exhibition of Margrita Kabakova, Nika Dubrowski, Benjamin Bush, Gregory Khasin
Galerie Vinogradov, Chodowieckistr. 25, 10405 Berlin
14 October, 7 pm
On Saturday, October 22 at 14:00, there will be an exhibition workshop “Plasticine Worlds”.