The idea of creating a parallel world is at the heart of every one of the seven spaces we built for ‘The Strange City’. They are worlds which will be completely separated from our own everyday reality, and the 'City' as a whole, because of the walls surrounding the inside space which will form such separation.
The context of the space, city and museum is always very important to us, especially at The Grand Palais. The Grand Palais itself is a separate world inside of Paris, and our ‘city’, is also the same kind of ‘separate world’ inside of the Grand Palais. Every time we worked on the installation, we were spending time inside the city, inside the building, inside the space, trying to feel the atmosphere and the attitude of the people living or visiting those parks, museums, streets, spaces. This is crucial to producing artwork that resonates with the people.
Russian conceptualism as it is perceived by the West, and understood by the Moscow Conceptual School, is the production of strange, individual projects. However, every day we can still observe someone’s individual project as strange and very conceptual. Therein lies the similarity.
The twenty first century is the movement to the future, but one that may look back into the twentieth and nineteenth centuries, and so on. In our work, we consider ideas that were here long ago, and Constructivism is one of these ideas.
There are quotations of certain ideas, books and visual images from the cultural history of art, literature and even music, presented alongside some from the present, and proposals for the future.
This journey asks the visitor to reflect on many aspects of memory: private, personal and collective. It will at times remind the visitors of a book they read as a child or indeed the book that they are now reading once again.
There is no connection with The Red Wagon. The Red Wagon was an attempt to create a metaphor for the history of the Soviet Union from its beginning to its end. The Strange City is not about local, but universal ideas and problems.
We don't really talk about the urban environment or the city literally speaking. It is more of a fantasy, a concept of ideas, like an identical city existing on another plain, or another reality that we can only see if we go to a certain place on a certain mountain. It is about the cultural legacy of humanity, which is preserved not only in museums but also in our mental memory. We are not trying to teach or prophesize. We are not prophets, or teachers. We offer the viewer a general idea: what if, or: maybe, or: somewhere at some time...And the viewer has to decide by himself or herself what personally they see or visualize beyond these fantasies or images.
In our opinion all radical changes can be dated from the year 2000. Before that date, idealistic and elevated ideas dominated the art world because of the importance placed on museums and non-profit spaces, whose directors and curators were influencing the climate both inside and outside the art world. The art world – including most of the collectors – was breathing such air and consequently the commercial aspect was mostly hidden. Then, the ship was turned upside down and the bottom became the top, so all material became about ‘The Art of the Deal’ or ‘Deal of The Art’.
We were lucky to meet a lot of great people who influenced not only us personally, but also the art world as a whole. These include: Jan Hoet, Jean Hubert Marten, Carl Zeaman, Dominic Bozo, Robert Storr, Gerard Mortier. Sadly some are not with us anymore, but others are still working. As for the events, the destruction of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall and September 11th, 2001. Those are the most defining moments of the 20th century, which left a very deep, albeit different impression not only on us, but on humanity as a whole. ― [O]