I, I PLAY
Text published in the catalogue of the exhibition “Here we are. Views of artists on anthropocene”, Paris, January 2016
Does the civilisation start where comes the zabor ?
Yellow and green.
With the municipality impulsion, the zabors (“barriers”, in Russian) proliferate in the residential districts from Moscow. The biased fence protects the grass trampled; each parcel of land is now surrounded. The “baking” of these zabors is quite simple : it needs to weld quickly tubes, line pipe, metal bars, and paint them in an approximate way.
The Muscovite atmosphere is divided in an inflexible way in “domestic space”, “work space” and “transit zone”. It is no coincidence therefore that the zabors have been located in residential spaces, where theses districts are more green. The metal barriers enviously preserve nature, often closed in courtyards of buildings or limited into parks.
Nevertheless, all of this is not that rudimentary. Indeed, the yellow-green are also an important marker of the Moscow’s urban fabric. The saturated and opaque environment. The zabor is indeed one of the historical foundations of the Russian urbanism. Moscou is a City-Fortress and the Kremlin wall is a “zabor” as well.
Sergei Medvedev, professor at the School of Advanced Studies in Economical Sciences of Moscou (EHESE), has clarified the history and the particular meaning of the zabor in Russia in his conference named Phenomenology of Zabor. He talked about the necessity of appropriating, determining and defending the immense space of Russian territory, but also about the political reality where the state controls a layered space, as he controls the inward-looking attitudes and the protection, often paranoid, of properties.
In turn, Ekaterina Vasilyeva, artist, following the line of her research about the linkages between urban environment and natural landscape, gives and documents a complete typology of the zabors. More than 300 pictures reveal at the same time the diversity and the absurdity of this phenomenon.
The artist is pushing the boundaries of her analysis and answers thus with Muscovite barrier’s models, play structures, whose prototypes are real zabors. Once accomplished, the transition from the zabor to the toy, she reformats these structures originally distorted, while anticipating their future degradation. The handling toy deprives the barrier from its repressive function and defines the zabor as an intermediary step in the development of the Muscovite urban space.
I, I play.