Armin Linke

Russian Spatiographies
28.06.2013 – 14.07.2013, Triumph Gallery

The idea for the Moscow photo series emanated from the project “The Body of the State.” This project started in 2006 when Armin Linke was commissioned by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities to realize a portrait of the Italian State in terms of architecture. The artist proposed a photographic mapping of several public institutions located in various historical buildings in Rome; thus carrying out both a documentation of and an inquiry into the characteristics of these representational spaces in which functions and ceremonies are performed daily. The result
was a primarily artistic installation program opening up to political reflection.
With the invitation to the 4th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2011 Armin Linke extended this image of power by recording a number of Russian State institutions and research centers. Like in Rome the project in Moscow could only be realized with the cooperation of the respective cultural institutions who actively contributed in the production and selection process. The provided images in this publication depict the golden ceremonial office of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Originally designed in the mid-19th century, the building nowadays stands synonymical for the Russian State itself. Furthermore, we can find official rooms from the Duma, the TASS Press Agency or the Ministry of the Interior and finally the pavilion of an ex-soviet trade fair site which is now being used as an amusement park. At a first glance these space recordings appear as stages, places where the actual power of a State is performed, but at the same time they are transformed in performative agents through the eye of the artist. This aspect is probably most sensibly at stake in the last case where the former ideological function of the architecture has disappeared, but its structural dynamics continue in new contexts.
In the project “Russian Spatiography,” photographs of state institutions are complimented with a series of works made at different times in Baikonur and Nadym. The government conference halls find their mirror images in the desert landscapes: the places where power is concentrated gradually dissolve into the landscapes of the empty cosmodrome, a dilapidated factory and exhibition pavilions that are no longer used for their primary purposes. A country that is vast in territory, with a history going back centuries, is enveloped by its own emptiness, with man’s presence being indicated through absence, and the contrast between the gilded interiors and the arid fields, between the managers and the executors, developing an image of Russia that is suspended between the past and the present.
Armin Linke