Axe de Révolution, 2014
site-specific performance, Moscow, August 2014
courtesy of the artists
(Katya Ev & Hanna Zubkova)
Axe de Révolution (2014) is a 17-hour performance, during which the artists silently walked through Moscow from the very North point of it on the orbital highway to the very South point, carrying a 6 meter long 13,5 kilo heavy metal structural element of rectangular section. While the Sun was moving from the East to the West, they were heading forward along a straight 45 km long line through the city, synchronizing their way across Moscow’s circular urban structure, that in its shape reminds the Copernican heliocentric model (Copernican Revolution), and constructing a cross with the trajectory of the Sun. The initial latin term revolution, as coined by Copernicus, means circular motion, while in everyday use it expresses a drastic overturn (usually in political sense). Further from being historically charged with the imaginaire of the Great Russian revolution, this ambivalence underlines artists’ intention ‘to coordinate the movement of a cosmic body’ and their ‘intimate endeavor of inner profound revolution’ .
Axe de Révolution serves as a powerful example of an abstract performance of absolutely non-functional nature, a pure semantic entity, that originated in the specific context and only gains its emotional intensity and meaning in relation to it. After extreme tightening of the internal politics, and return of state violence in 2011, 2014 became the point of no return in the contemporary Russian history. In the heat of war in Ukraine, it became clear that the country has taken the direction of repressive state, the beginning of return to the USSR’s politics of propaganda, state lies, blindness, isolation and nationalism. At this moment in history, two women, carrying a heavy iron beam through the streets of the Russian capital reference at once several layers of political, historical and cultural reality: a famous episode of Vladimir Lenin’s biography — carrying a beam together with the workers on the 1st May, 1920; the routine of construction works in contemporary Moscow landscape; the power relations structured by the city planning. In the climate of hysteria and paranoia that took over the mainstream media reality, the performance was perceived by many as a political protest action. It touched the nerve, provoked fear of another revolt, another anti-state action. A number of journalists, including the ones from state television, normally ignorant to contemporary art, arrived to cover the procession. In 2015 for the performance Axe de Révolution the artist duo was nominated for Kandinsky prize.
text by Katya Krupennikova
published in Cat. The End Of The World, Prato, Italy, 2016