Bububu-2. Crnogrsk dnvnk. Episote 17. New «Jugooceania».

I first got to Jugooceania just before the New Year; a grey gloomy (which the weather further emphasized) building somewhere in the outskirts (that was my second day in Montenegro, and I did not understand it then that it was half a kilometer walk to the “center of Kotor”), with mold, and broken furniture, and rotting magazines from forgotten epochs inside. It would later be discovered that, amid the broken furniture and the rotting magazines, the former shipping company building had tons of true treasures, from stylish bags with first aid kits to sophisticated marine maps of the whole planet; but let me talk about it later.

So far, there was rubbish and dismal inside, and only Guelman with his optimism-without-shores kept saying that the building was being handed over under the management of DEAC, and that rooms would be given to artists, free of charge at the beginning so that they would wash the mold off the walls themselves and put locks in the doors and then create at their pleasure and let everyone look at the “creative lab” on Sundays… and December rain was running down the dirty window panes.

Try sitting down at a hotel window in the main square of some town and watch life starting up. Over there is the last drinker walking, and that is the first postman, then the first window shutters bang. There are two girls walking, and you cannot understand if they are coming back from a night shift or going to a morning one. Then there is a busy manager with a briefcase; you go to get some tea and come back to your seat – and there are two more with briefcases. It is difficult to grasp the moment when the accumulating grains become a pile. The moment at which an empty square turns into a busy one.

It is difficult to appoint any particular day the moment at which Jugooceania turned into the Artists’ House. Yes, the official opening did have a date, a couple of months ago, but at that point in time no flowers by Sergey Gorshkov decorated the hall and no tables by Olga Florenskaya were at the staircase.

Now that the mentioned items have been installed, Jugooceania immediately starts reminding of a museum, with a broad hall on the second floor with current exhibitions of DEAC residents, and higher upstairs there are the studios with painters, engravers, toymakers, graphic designers and all sorts of other artistic people (some of the studios are occupied by the Russian-speaking public, some – by the Kotor union of artists, and European programs are being prepared). A birds workshop from Yulia Khodeyeva (the above photo). The birds are higher, but the roof with the heavenly sight is now closed, and this matters.

It is not just the access to the roof that matters – it is important that all sorts of infrastructure should stick around. At the opening of the Artistis’ House Guelman said that the Artists’ House was a rhyme to the Kotor fortress. Let’s imagine: with a wave of hand, there is a new center in place, five minutes away from the first one – still, in a slightly different geography, with new filling, not the good old but a vibrant up-to-date one. Even now, despite the heat, the lack of buffet and advertising and very high frequency actions from DEAC (we have just had a week with three), and despite the pause in music sessions that have just started in the yard at the bay, – there is a consistently big crown gathering at the open gates on Sundays, and local media have started publishing news items on the exhibitions. It is important to keep this emerging interest up, or rather fuel it up with the bourgeois firewood like cafes on the roof and at the waterfront (licensing takes time), shiny toilets, a souvenir store, contracts with tourist buses so that they would stop here and so on. It is planned to set up a kids zone. The creativity kick has been given, the situation now needs fine managerial polishing. And then, by the autumn, we may actually witness a real hocus-pocus of how to make a second center in an ancient town at no particular cost.

Still, one should not miss exhibitions; they will change several times before the autumn. There are three fresh ones right now: Pavel Brat, Evgeni Dybsky, Yury Palmin.

Brat (now living in Petersburg where he has recently moved from Voronezh) works in a unique technique, he destroys old books cutting them into small stripes, and then mixes this new material up into new works of art.

Their texture fascinates and promises “big future” to the author, the form – in this specific case – seemed a bit too gloomy to me and not yet too inventive; well, the form comes with time.

Dybsky, since long a resident of Berlin, gained popularity during perestroika, which means somewhat political context, but that served for the benefit of art, and Dybsky’s art is delicate and not of the perestroika kind. Patient accurate build-up of solid abstract forms.

brat 17 2
dibski 17There was a time when Dybsky integrated stone, some sort of bast into canvas, but in the Kotor project he only confined himself to painting: precise, restrained.

I miss elements of madness in it, but I would buy such a painting for my office, if I had an office of a suitable size.

The most recently opened exhibition, simultaneously under DEAC and some high-status architectural assembly taking place in Montenegro, is that of Palmin, a respected architectural photographer. In Montenegro, Yury has been taking photos of Yugoslavian modernism. The exhibition has a complicated title “Cryptomnesia” — this is something about false memory. I find the title excessively full of suggestions, and the material is so advantageous that it is dead easy for an experienced photographer with intellect and talent to turn it into beautiful pictures. But my colleagues have, in a tough form, prohibited it to me to say anything about Palmin but ohs and ahs on what a genius he is. So, let me limit myself to the information that Cryptomnesia is good work by an honored artisan, and viewing the photos gives true pleasure.  

You are welcome to join!

palmin 17