Underground Performances 1990-1993
The beginning of the epoch of privatization in Russia naturally had an effect on the activities of the Cherkashin Metropolitan Museum. Especially because the process of privatization in art is an ancient and traditional form.
Since our activity centers on the Moscow subway, we started there. First, 15 objects at the "Revolution Square" station were privatized. This was recorded in documents, in photographs and by the Italian "Super Channel."
The Cherkashins planed to continue the process of privatization of different objects of culture in other metro stations, at the Exhibition of Economic Achivements, and other memorials of the 30's through the 50's in the USSR. The station "Square of the Revolution" was chosen because all of the sculptures chosen for privatization were available in a quantity of four, so there would not be any arguments between owners who chose two twin brother sculptures. For example, N. Kolodzei and K. Brilling both liked a frontier guard with a dog. The commission was able to fulfill their wishes. That performance helped to turn our attention to forgotten images of the 30's and 50's in the USSR.
For this action the Metropolitan Museum was decorated with its first ordinance, "The Ordinance of the Metro of the II Degree."
Moscow, Revolutionary Square" metro station. November 1990. TV Italian Super Channel.
People's Love of "Art for the People".
We wondered if our objects were able to reach and affect our contemporaries. A Russian model from Rome, Velena, willingly agreed to help us find out.
The night she spent in the Metro did not pass calmly. There was a great deal of communication, love and openness in relation to imagery. This was evidently made possible by the powerful charm, beauty and all the other human qualities of Velena. You can see in the photographs how our privatized objects reacted and responded to all this, objects that had been rescued by our contemporaries from the depths of history. They all came alive, smiled, grew warm, and it was hard to believe that they came from Stalin's steely times.
Of course this was an extraordinary thing for many of our citizens to see. This is why when one of our trackmen saw a naked beauty in the arms of a bronze intellectual at 3 a.m., he went tumbling down the rails and disappeared into the tunnel. Love and humanity make everything warm and beautiful, and as you see, surprising. This was the result of this performance of a night of love and humanity.
Moscow, Revolutionary Square" metro station. June 1991.
The privatized objects and images demanded attention. That is why, in the good tradition of our recent past, the management of the Metropolitan Museum announced "Subbotnik," that is a personal initiative to work for free and from the bottom of one№s heart. Most of the new owners of the privatized objects and other cultural workers responded to that call. Muscovites and guests of the capital joined them with great enthusiasm. This process was also recorded by photographs and, this time, by Russian TV. The owners mostly took care of their property. For example T. Kolodzei cleaned her revolutionary sailor. He shined like gold. S. Kouskov, on the other hand, was not occupied with his privatized engineer. He preferred to look after a girl with a rifle gun and a badge stating, "Voroshilovsky Rifleman." A drunken man who approached with the intention of beating us, after hearing my plan of agitation, joined us with zeal and surprised everyone with his enthusiasm. In the end, he himself stimulated the interest of two young passing boys, who joined us also. This action helped our contemporaries to make friends with Soviet material objects from the 30's and 50's. *Under the Soviet System there was a tradition of citizens volunteering to work from time to time for free on Saturdays ("subbotnik").
Moscow, Revolutionary Square" metro station. February 1992.
Preparations for the wedding took a long time- over a year. The difficulty was the question: "how to unite this loving couple?" and the board of directors of the Metropolitan Museum were asked for their input. There were two possibilities. The first was to make Vasiliy alive (like Pygmalion in Greece). The second was to make Irina a sculpture, that is, to make her bronze. We chose the second variant.
At last, the long awaited moment came. Thanks to the directors of the Moscow Subway and Ostankino TV, the ceremony was made official. The bride was in a special dress, her face, hands and clothes all covered with bronze. There were press correspondents, champagne, signing of documents, a wedding party at the Bride's house, presents and toasts.
And thus it was at last accomplished -- the past and present flowed together as one. Hurrah!
For this action, the Museum Metropolitan received its second ordinance, "The Ordinance of the Metro of the First Degree"
Moscow, Revolutionary Square" metro station. January 1993.
This performance was held with the support of the 1 Channel of Russian Central TV.
Underground Beauty Contest "Miss 38".
After the wedding, life resumed to its normal processes for the underground objects.
In March 1993, however, in honor of International Women's day, the board of directors of the Metropolitan Museum together with the Moscow bureau of "Stern" magazine -- its unusual director K. Gloger and excellent photographer H.U. Burkard -- staged the performance: "Underground Beauty Contest, Miss 38" in the "Revolution Square" metro station which accommodates six statues of women and girls of the 1930's. From them three winners were chosen: "Miss 38" was the first; "Miss Photo-Model" was the second; and "Miss Passengers' Sympathies" was the third.
The passengers of that difficult time, naturally, chose the women-worker with the chicken and rooster and an apron full of something tasty.
The committee of 10, voted for "Miss 38" by tossing secret ballots (as it seemed to them) into an urn. However, as would have been appropriate in the epoch we are dealing with, the choice of "Miss 38" was handed down from above. She had to be the woman of proven ability with the rifle and badge saying "Voroshilovskyi Rifleman". The committee was then left to choose "Miss Photo-Model". She turned out to be the almost naked girl-sportsman with a disk in her hand. The contest was conducted in a businesslike and serious atmosphere.
For this action Cherkashin Metropolitan Museum at last received the title it had long been fighting for, that of "All Union".
Moscow, Revolutionary Square" metro station. march 1993.