|The Private Moon on a pine-tree in Panfilov's park on Light Up show|
in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Leonid Tishkov, Russian Artist, Travels The World With His 'Private Moon'
The Huffington Post | By Katherine Brooks
Like a character out of some ancient fairy tale, Russian artist Leonid Tishkov can't seem to go anywhere without a human-sized crescent moon by his side. Be it Paris, Austria or Taiwan, the artist can usually be found with his lunar travel mate in tow, lounging on rooftops or dangling off the edge of a boat in scenes that take us back to our favorite childhood books.
Tishkov's most recent obsession -- a love affair with an illuminated, man-made moon -- tugs at the heartstrings of any romantic soul. He's documented the entire experience in a photography project called "Private Moon," inviting viewers to glimpse intimate moments of his strange adventures.
We asked Tishkov about his celestial pal in a recent email exchange, which was conducted in Russian. Anthropomorphizing his moon at any chance he got, he explained how the two met, the intellectual world of Russia, and his hopes for the future of Russian art.
One day I was invited to do an open-air installation in a picturesque place near Moscow. On the shore of the lake was a beautiful old pine, and I suddenly imagined a moon shining through it's silhouette. I remembered the work of the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte which featured a thin moon frozen in the silhouette of a tree. This painting is called "Tree with Crescent Moon" or "Le 16 Septembre ."
So I booked the studio and went to work creating my two meter-long moon with lamps inside. I hung it on the pine tree, stretched out a long cord to the nearest outlet and turned on the light. And then the miracle happened. Many viewers thought that this moon came down from heaven to Earth. In an amazing coincidence, the event was held on the evening of September 16. It will soon be 10 years since my moon jumped from the behind the pine branches in Moscow and began traveling around the world with me.
As an artist, do you often find any inspiration in Russian fairy tales?
Of course! I'm an artist -- a storyteller -- so folk tales inspire me. The ancient Ural peoples who lived in my home told a fairy tale about how a shaman goes into the next world, illuminating the path of the moon. So in all of my photos, I can be seen in my late father's cloak, because he travels with me in this way. There's also a story by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol about how the devil stole the last moon from the sky. I am inspired by poetry as well, like the Chinese poet Li Bai.
How many places have you have visited with your moon?
At first, we were not traveling. I just saw my moon in a forest near Moscow, then on the balcony of my cabin and then on the roof of my workshop. But eventually my moon saw photos of people from around the world and she began to ask if we could travel. So we went! In Austria, I offered to give the moon to anyone who wanted to take her for himself. We traveled to Paris in December. It was very cold! There you could see glimpses of silvery moonlight in a frozen pond fountain of the Louvre and the Tuileries.
Then in the United States my moon was in the Bass Museum in the 2008 exhibition "Russian Dreams." In September, she returned to travel around in Washington. I hope to show her the blossoming plums and the old Cape Henry Lighthouse in Fort Story, Virginia, because lighthouses are the children of the stars and the moon.
Where is the most interesting place you and your moon have visited?
The strangest place was in the depths of the Yenisei River -- this cold, fast-flowing river in Siberia. I took hold of the moon's chain and pulled her onto a fishing boat like a huge, bright gold fish. And I swam with her to a deserted shore.
If you could take your moon to one place you've never been before, where would it be?
I would like to fly with her to the moon, and show her the American flag that astronauts have put there. It sounds very poetic -- the moon on the moon. Here she is, against the background of stars and stripes, while I am in a suit embracing her, hanging in the sky behind the blue Earth. And then, after returning we would go visit Barack and Michelle Obama.
In a poem you wrote about meeting the moon, you say that you are both mythological creatures living in the real world. What does this mean?
All of us are partly mythological creatures. From birth, we build a world around us like a fairy tale, inhabited by our own characters. It's like my favorite book, Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." I am like the boy Max, but I was born on the other side of the world, in a small town in the Urals. I also came up with fairy tales, which I wanted to jump inside of. Fate had me become an artist, and then I was able to give in to my imagination!
As a contemporary artist, how would you describe the art world in Russia today?
I started as a cartoonist in the Soviet era, in the late 1970s. Then my art was censored and I was banned from publishing in journals because I participated in exhibitions abroad. After the revolution of 1990, I painted and created installations with an ironic context, addressing totalitarian myths and creating my own absurd worlds. And I felt free. In the 2000s, I began to work with the theme of memory, and began to tell simple and poetic stories. But being an artist became more difficult. Now, there are few collectors, foundations or grants supporting the arts. The government is trying to exert ideological pressure on the artists as well. But young people resist, with more allusions and hidden hints. Artists will always try to swim against the current.
Who are your favorite contemporary artists in Russia?
From the old generation, I appreciate the artist Erik Bulatov, especially his paintings with text. And from the new generation -- a very young street art artist from Yekaterinburg named Timothy Radya. He recently collected a tower of shields that the police use during crackdowns, and set them on top of a gilded throne. Suddenly, the wind blew, and the whole house of cards collapsed in one second! It reminded me of the old story of King Ubu, which was written a hundred years ago by the French writer Alfred Jarry. History repeats itself, but humanity does not learn her lesson!
|Journey of the Private Moon in the Arctic, video|
|Private Moon in the Arctic, four light boxes, 2010|
|Sky at Shoes Boxes, Moon in Cage, Private Moon on the Bed, Star into Garbage Bag on exhibition|
Horizon Sky in Moscow Planetarium until 27th April 2013
Ярлыки: private moon
THE MAN AND THE MOON
By Tilla Buden
Leonid Tishkov may change the way you see the moon forever. His ongoing project, Private Moon, is a
mobile installation and visual poem telling the story of a man who met the Moon and stayed with her
forever. That man, it seems, could be the wonderfully romantic Russian artist Leonid Tishkov – literally
living the performance of a lifetime as he travels the world with his own private moon. We had a chat
with him about lonely lunar love, and the power of experiential poetry to unite and transform.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished my trip of Private Moon in Republic of China Taiwan. Over a month the moon visited the
strangest and most unexpected places of Kaohsiung and its surroundings. Last week was the opening of
an exhibition Private Moon in Taiwan at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts. There, in the park of the
museum, I built two installations: The Full Moon and The Moon in the Rest at the Childrens Museum of
Art. Right now I am building a new light installation for the museum in Siberia, Chukotka, at the most eastern and northern edge of Russia. The exhibition will be called Fascinated Wanderer. The poetic journey is main theme of my art.
What initially inspired the Private Moon series?
Ten years ago I created this installation with the glowing moon at one of the festivals of contemporary art.
I wanted to make a picture of the reality of my favorite artist – Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. After that
I brought the moon to the roof of my studio on a skyscraper on the South of Moscow, where she shone
to me personally, and brightened my loneliness.
What does this series mean to you?
This is not just a series – it is a performance of a lifetime! I have traveled Private Moon for ten years and
each time the moon reveals more space to me. The moon is a shining point that brings people together
from different countries, of different nationalities and cultures. And everyone who gets in its orbit does
not forget it ever. It gives fairytale and poetry in our prosy and mercantile world.
Private Moon is a project that you have carried on for a few years now, how has it evolved over that
I initially did this project for myself, then it became public. The beginning was in Linz, Austria, in 2009,
when I offered to take anyone to the moon and make a personal light installation where they live. For
more than six months the Moon traveled from person to person. Everyone could feel like an artist,
everyone could experience a touch of poetry. Also – the object (moon) multiplied…
Arctic Moon consists of four parts – two-meters would not fit to the plane that flies from Tromso to Longirbyuen. Finally, in China this year, it has grown to a full moon!
You have described this work as a visual poem, and often accompany your images with poetry too. Which comes first for you, the words or the images?
Poetry is born in the image. Before placing a Private moon in a place that I like, I look at it for a very long
time. Often this is the place that I see as the basis of the poem. In the first pictures you see my country
house, the bed on which I sleep and write poetry, I myself as a lonely poet and philosopher – in the hat
and cloak of my departed father. The world is beautiful around us, you just illuminate it with the light of
poetry! And for me, the light of the moon is the perfect poetry.
Some Private Moon images are attributed to yourself and Boris Bendikov – tell us about working with other artists…
I invited photographer Bendikov to shoot my installation and my choice was a good one. He’s a great
photographer who works for advertising, and he made twelve great photos. Particularly the pictures
on the roof of my studio, where I sit in front of the moon and talk to her. After 2005 I worked with other
photographers or shoot images myself, as the moon travels from New Zealand to the Arctic where I can
not work with only one photographer. My friend, artist Marcus Williams, did the perfect shot in New
Zealand – under volcano Rangitoto. The Paris series were shot by Tim Parchikov, a good French-Russian
photographer. In Taiwan’s story I worked with Chinese photographer Po-I Chen, while in Austria the
moon was generally shot by a lot of photographers.
How has collaboration enriched your art practice?
I am grateful to everyone who walked by my side as I’m carrying the moon around the world. You see,
I’m an artist and a poet, I have no other life but to dance of the dance of the moon mad dervish. And if
someone comes up beside me and will dance with me, and if the stars respond to this dance – then a
miracle happens – an art is born. And I hope that everyone who danced with me got a bit of inspiration
for his work and for his life.
What next for you?
And then I will go to the Milky Way. The show must go on!
Photo from Leonid Tishkov Private Moon in Kaohsiung
Photographer Po-I Chen
Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
We brought the light-box
And put it on the roof of a school.
Po-I fell! It hurt!
I watched a proof photo in Moscow by email and chose a composition.
I-Ching switched on the light.
And miracle happened to a boy from Xsiaolin village:
The moon came down to him from Heaven!