News of faculty

27 Feb 2013

«I come out of the presumption that it is the mind that defines the reality»

Oleg Kulik - is one of the most influential figures in Russian modern art, whose art projects and performances always draw attention of the professional community, critics and viewers alike. Having found time in his busy schedule, Oleg met up with the students and visitors of the «Art management and gallery business» RMA program.

«I consider myself an avant-garde artist that had never hoped to reach big success, which wasn't really possible in the Soviet Union until much later on. In the 60's and 70's there was an entirely different prevailing philosophy: if you didn't suck up to the authority, then you by default had to go underground which was the only place where you could maintain your artistic freedom. Our fathers and grandfathers have gone through the same situation, and it seemed to us that it would never end. Back when I was 27 years old, I was literally sitting and crying that my works will never reach the Western audience. I was absolutely certain that this situation would not change.

I come out of the presumption that it is the mind that defines the reality. Of course, there are some artists that build their body of work by first studying marketing, people's psychology, market demand etc. They gear themselves fully toward the existing world and the way it functions, in which case, the reality does in fact begin to shape their minds. However, I myself am accustomed to going by what originates in my own mind, which requires me to trust my own intuition above anything else out there. And I was lucky enough to be surrounded by the artists to whom art is also a true passion.

Back in 1991, me and Anatoly Osmolovsky had been sitting around and discussing art. It was then, when it has dawned on us that we were nowhere near being the gallerists. In those 4 years from 1991 to 1994, not only we didn't have any real collectors around, but it wasn't entirely clear if the art itself was actually present at all. And so we've discussed: how can we render the situation which would bring about the collectors? That is when one of us came with an idea: for the art to truly re-emerge, we must do something to generate a genuine interest toward it, and to lay the ground that would give rise to the new gallerists, collectors etc.

That is when we began organizing our performances. And the first journalists that came out of our environment, began writing about us and our work. Then, gradually, the first gallerists also began to come out from within our environment. In those 4 short years a whole new system had steadily emerged, that had eventually consumed us, turning us into its first victims. All these people who had been opening up the museums, who generated collections, who created the art etc. eventually they ended up trumping the idea of art itself, since they have falsely concluded that they, in fact, were the most important element of what constituted the art in the first place. In many ways, this has happened because, unlike in the West with its contiguous cultural inheritance, our curators and gallerists do not feel the prevalence of the artist himself above the rest of the chain. That is why we now have a thriving British, French, American art, but virtually no Russian art to speak of. It only existed back in the 90's, when we took part in every biennial, and enjoyed the attention of the Western press.

This development, however, was inevitable. Back then we have formed a humus, which through the process of decay would then allow the new sprouts to shoot out. We have anticipated that it would last about 10 years. First the oligarchy would take part in it, then their wives, then perhaps the government etc. They will all be investing their money in art, until the next crisis hits that would wipe out the collectors, leaving only us and the humus behind. And only after these life's lessons, we can then again unite our ranks under the banner of art, and the rest of the society will then truly follow us».

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