"Beauty Free", installation, "FAIR" exhibition, Royal College of Art , London

External link: http://www.cca.rca.ac.uk/fair/exhibitors/E.shtml

In the "BEAUTY FREE" project ESCAPE criticizes the market-like devices imported by Russia from the West in 1990s. In its project ESCAPE offers to the spectator to buy not just belongings or personal things of the painters, but social images and statuses typical of Russian society. Anton Litvin, Bogdan Mamonov, Liza Morozova and Valeriy Ayzenberg are not just artists, they are representatives of different social groups of the population, i.e. middle class, intelligentsia, women, newcomers etc. Thus "ESCAPE" manifests an image or a model of modern Russia. The project consists of a number of objects forming the installation and posters representing each of the social groups mentioned above. Another part of the project is a movie-performance filmed in one of Moscow trendy shops. The "ESCAPE" participants mixing with the crowd of customers pretend to be mannequins. Absurd immobility of their poses emphasizes an artist's ambiguous position in the contemporary society: while being and remaining a creator he has to take a certain social role. From time to time the members of the group make a slightly noticeable stereotype movement changing their pose e.g. a middle class representative flips a coin, an intelligentsia member riffles a newspaper etc. and then they freeze again.

One of the most significant expositions at the "Fair" was the one called "Beauty Free" presented by Moscow group Escape. Having paraphrased Lev Tolstoy's saying "An artist is one who is able to depict anything" they say "An artist is one who is able to sell anything". The members of Escape group called own artistic style P-Art, i.e. PR ART (public relation art). Though they confess that by present their PR creative attempts have not yet brought them great income. At the Fair the partipants of ESCAPE Anton Litvin, Bogdan Mamonov, Liza Morozova and Valeriy Ayzenberg represented a gallery and were selling their own works. The main work was a video shown on a large screen. An expensive shoe shop on Manege Square, a crowd of customers and visitors. Among them there are Escape members standing in frozen poses as if playing a children game of motionless figures. Each of them symbolizes a certain member of modern Russian society. Ayzenberg is a "newcomer", Mamonov is an "intelligentsia member", Litvin is a "middle class member", Morozova is "simply a woman". A copy of this film cost $300. Besides for sale there were posters $700 each and various absurd and ridiculous objects for the price of $600 - 1200. British visitors were watching and praising and remarked: "That's interesting, turns out Russians have completely the same society of consumers as we do".

"Fair Game of Art Business" by Nikita Alekseev, "Inostranets" #17, 2002.

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