Moscow Portraits (1990)

Moscow portraits is a video project, which reconstructs the work and life of the great Russian avant-gardist, suprematist painter from the 1920s – Kasimir Malevich. His ideas and works are transformed through six bizarre portraits of a “man reading Malevich book,” portraits made by unknown street painters working on the street of Arbat in Moscow in the 1989. This project is also a kind of homage to the first public presentation of Malevich paintings in Soviet Union in the 1989 (in the same year when the 6 portraits were made). Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935), Belorussian painter and designer, along with Piet Mondrian is the most important pioneer of geometric abstract art.

But this story is only a plot, which gave Grzinic & Smid the possibility to develop a new video language and aesthetic. The video is an important international collaborative project, which unites artists from different countries (Canada, Japan, USA, Yugoslavia) and artistic fields. These artists were resident artist in The Banff Center for Arts in the 1990 in the program concerning Border Cultures.

The using of computer graphics and animation resulted in a specific aesthetic, similar to cartoons comics books and the performance of the opera singer and of the Japanese artist created a new conceptual video language of the 1990s. Remaking history? No, this is rather a simulation of its political and emotional co-ordinates.

Video installation first presented at the group exhibition MOSCOW PORTRAITS, curated by Grzinic and Stipancic, at the Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, Yugoslavia (September, 3. – October, 7. 1990) and in The Civic Gallery in Ljubljana (January, 21 – February, 8. 1991).

low band, 12 min 11 sec, colour, stereo,
produced by The Media Arts Program,
The Banff Center for Arts, Banff, Canada 1990
video and video installation;
original title: MOSCOW PORTRAITS
written and directed by:
Marina Grzinic, Aina Smid
interpreters: Steffanie Pearce,
opera singer; Bako Ohama, artist;
Trevor Gould (artist, man voice);
camera and editing by: Vern Hume
computer graphics by: B. Timothy Brock
computer animation by: Garry Beirne
original music composed by: Brian Ales
sound by: Kevin Elliott
spoken language: English and Slovenian
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