Such urban parasites as pigeons and rats, the common nettle and dandelion are at one and the same time in conflict with, and the product of, the city’s cultural environment; staying at the periphery of public attention, they occupy new territories, delimit and occupy environments, or take over the empty spaces which emerge out of urban renovation and development.
Proclaiming equality between all biological species, the artists fill the temple-like grain store of the All-Russian Exhibition Center with invasive flora and undesirable plants, which spread beyond the territory normally allocated to them by humans, and use them as a metaphor for the evolution of any expansive form of life.
The triumph of harvest, the fruition of undesirable plantlife, collected from different districts of Moscow, unfold in the “Grain” Pavilion which was built for the opening of the All-Russian Exhibition Center in 1939. Under the district flags of the city, everyday examples of rampant plant life – common nettle, tarragon, pigweed, burdock, dandelion – invade the space.
Outer Green celebrates harvest and abundance as well as the endless cycle of life and death in the modern age, which thousands of years after the invention of agriculture still creates “blind harvesters”, who are out there to collect the yield of lives on the battlefields of wars.
The cultivation of domesticated plants is celebrated in the interiors of the “Grain” pavilion: the depictions of potatoes, cabbages, grapes and wheat, etched onto brass-coloured stained glass windows have survived to the present day, whereas the painted murals depicting pastorals on the greenhouse production, fat herds and mirror carp of Mosoblsovnarkhoz (the Regional Economic Council of Moscow Region) have disappeared from the pavilion’s walls without trace.
The All-Russian Exhibition Center, originally built to celebrate the technological developments and agricultural achievements of the Soviet era, has since the dissolution of the USSR become a bohemian flea market. The new life of small businesses was conceived amid the dust and rotten flesh of the former citadel to materialistic ideology. Since then small forms of life, both flora and fauna, have occupied this huge drowned ship.
The big and small “mystery plays” prospered here for twenty years among sharks, butterflies and relict fish. Today the All-Russian Exhibition Center faces a new phase of dynamic reconstruction and modernization – and soon this period of history will be buried by yet another layer, and new cultural agents will take over the territory of the Center.
until October 31, 2014
Urban Fauna Lab
All-Russian Exhibition Centre
pav. 59, Grain
119 Mira Ave, Building 59, Moscow