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Valery Katsuba: RUSSIAN ROMANTIC REALISM. Shanghai Center of Photography, 12.07-29.08.2021

Russian Romantic Realism: Valery Katsuba  俄罗斯浪漫现实主义:瓦列里·胜叶

下面是英文后面的中文

Shanghai Center of Photography, 12 06. — 29.08. 2021

 

“Valery Katsuba is a master of aesthetics, and he describes the human body with the precision and elegance of Praxiteles; but within each of those beautiful bodies, he finds a beating heart.” 

Andrew Solomon

 

As the writer Andrew Solomon notes, Valery Katsuba does something marvelous in his elegantly arranged figure compositions. This thing, once spoken of the aura that any great work of art should possess, is the magic that draws us to Katsuba’s pictures. And, however we choose to describe it, in his photographs this “aura” exerts a very immediate effect on our senses. It is exactly for reasons of those beautiful bodies, which dominate the frames with their powerful physical presence, that Katsuba’s visual language has ready appeal for all who encounter his pictures. It speaks of a very human desire, the yearning within us for a perfection that we know we will never attain for ourselves. At least, not in the usual flow of a mundane life.

At times, as in the example of Air Flight Moscow Luzhniki (2010), or Air Flight: Birds (2011), the bodies appear as if cut out of a real-time/real-world space, in part because Katsuba captures them mid-air. In the first group, the bodies of Moscow aerial gymnasts, or trapeze artistes, are shown suspended mid-way through the soaring arabesques of their flight with only blue sky behind them. In the second, taken using black-and-white, the backdrop is the interior covering of a circus tent, which equally obfuscates our reading of the space vis-à-vis the performer’s daring flying high, high above the ground.

“Circus aerialists and acrobats, they are favorites from my youth,” Katsuba says. “In a sense, to me, these projects are a dream come true. I aspire to go (up) there, where everything is light, beautiful and clear.” As indeed the photographs make the world appear to be. These minimalist frames lead us to the almost singular purpose of marveling at the majesty of the human form, its extraordinary reach, elegant curves and disciplined energy.

There are reasons of experience and chance that inspired Katsuba to focus on what he terms “phiscultura”, or physical culture. First, there is the usual formative experiences accrued to childhood which he notes above. A broader interest in the visualization of sporting bodies was prompted later by discoveries of vast collections of photographs on the subject that Katsuba uncovered in the late 1990s whilst working in the Central State Archive of Film, Photo- and Phonographic Documents of St Petersburg (StPGAKFFD). This came before he had conceived of embarking upon his own career as a photographic artist, but was already producing large-scale photo shoots for other photographers. The discoveries uncovered in StPGAKFFD were without doubt a huge inspiration for the development of Katsuba’s personal photographic style. Both experiences take their place within the wider context of his upbringing, the world of the Soviet Union, in which he was nurtured to adulthood.

What sparks the immediacy of Katsuba’s photographic expression is the striking, often unexpected combination of bodies and environs. In the grand tableaux he conceived for a series featuring gymnasts and ballerinas in juxtaposition with various iconic works of art, the elegance of the figures is accentuated by the drama of their surroundings; stage-like settings that we recognize as the once-common eighteenth and nineteenth-century majesty of grand museum halls or similar architecturally ornate spaces. We marvel once again as we read the beauty the photographs parade, the tension between perfection and power that reverberates across the picture plane.

Yet, at the same time you feel something more subtle at work in these deftly constructed pictures. You walk away aware that the thoughts prickling your brain as to the message and meaning we might read into the photographs are much more nuanced in the effect they project. The subtitles are less readily identifiable, or so reductive as the “body beautiful” surface. Consistent with the means by which we extract the maximum insight into each experience that accrues to life, these discreet elements rely upon our individual powers of imagination to discern. And, I suspect, to our grasp of modern history vis-à-vis what we know of the contemporary era in which the photographer Katsuba, born in the Republic of Belarussia in the Soviet Union in the mid-1960s and coming of age during Perestroika (1980s), came to choose both his subject and the all-important twenty-first century moments of the shutter click.

One obvious example might be the style and scale of the architectural spaces Katsuba chooses for his settings like those in the museum or grand academies of art. History shows us that similar structures are to be found the length and breadth of Europe, in an abundance of buildings that evolved through time from one grand civilization to the next, from the Greeks to the Romans to the French, from Renaissance to Baroque to Gothic, each new era and locale accumulating forms, borrowing designs, and mixing-and-matching and enriching structures as time rolled forward. The majority of such palatial buildings were conceived as symbols of national prowess, the heights of a nation’s scientific engineering, or the magnitude of the wealth that accrued to its industry and trade, both fields being requisite if a nation hoped to project its aesthetic sophistication as the cherry atop its geo-political standing. And, as something to be emulated by all. Naturally the majority succeeded in these aims for these edifices remain revered through to a present in which they are almost inalienable emblems of national character. A century ago in Russia such palaces, as occupied by the White Russian aristocracy, became the very symbols of social decay, of a self-contained elite disconnected from a poor, lower class mass of workers struggling to sustain an existence. The response was revolution: a seismic shift deftly evoked in a scene in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1928 film October: Ten Days that Shocked the World, which shows a glittering crystal chandelier gently swaying in the cavernous hall of a vacated palace in St Petersburg, its former occupants having fled the uprising of the masses against them and all they stood for. Today, many of these former palaces are public spaces, enjoyed by all, despite being enmeshed in an increasingly complex net of contentious historical narratives.

Katsuba finds a great deal of inspiration in the shifting manifestations of aesthetic expression through time and history.

 

“I have always been interested by the relative constancy of landscapes- whether natural or architectural -and the human fates, faces and historical eras that go through them. I am interested in how, through time, our plasticity, our views, our body shape changes- or whether these things change at all.” 

 

In numerous of Katsuba’s series, his points of reference in the format and composition of a photograph are very specific and precisely conceived. This is perhaps most direct in a wide-ranging series titled The Model: Classic and Contemporary (2008-2019), which takes a cue from the century-old studio practice of drawing from a model in the life room. Here, gymnasts and sports people mirror the poses of classical bodies, in juxtaposition with actual works of art. The presence of the human body in art as an object of sensory delight and as a bearer of meaning can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, who enjoyed the male body as if it were a sculptural object. Katsuba mimics most directly in those of his photographs taken in museums.

In the case of the several photographs from a series titled “100 Years On”, Katsuba’s specific trigger came from a single image in the photo archive which showed an early art academy in action.

 

“In the late 1990’s, when I was working in the archive, I happened to see a photograph of a life-drawing class in Professor Makovsky’s studio taken in 1914 at the St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts by Karl Bulla. [Ed. Bulla is variously described as the first great Russian photographer, and the father of Russian reportage photography]. The photo captured my imagination and I asked to make a copy. Even before that I was intrigued by the Academy itself. I remember returning from the Mariinsky Theater after its performances and every time wanting to select a route that would take me to Zamyatina Lane, which would lead me to Neva Embankment, which opened the view onto the Academy…  It majestically rose before my eyes and excited me by thoughts of what may be behind its walls.”

 

From time to time, Katsuba was granted permission to make photographs in the Academy, just as he was doing in the Mariinsky Theater. On one occasion, “combining the objects of my desire when I photographed the Mariinsky Theater’s prima ballerina, Oksana Skorik, in the Academy museum.”

 

“But neither photographing athletes, nor ballerinas gave me complete satisfaction, and the Bulla photo would not leave my imagination. I felt that I was missing an essential element of what suffused the air of the Academy; the energy of creation, the silence of labor in which artworks are born and take on their final forms.

“Fifteen years passed since I printed out that academic photo, and then by accident, I bumped into Semyon Mikhailovsky [art historian, and rector of the Academy in St Petersburg]. That meeting became the beginning of the project “100 Years On”. Exactly one hundred years after Karl Bulla took his photo, I found myself with the opportunity to make photographs within the Academy studios, and to include students, models and professors. The Academy has remained constant for over a century. It is a perfect setting for exploring questions of continuity and change, especially given that the space carries the memory of generations of artists and the captivating magic of creativity.”

 

The story of Russia’s art history follows a trajectory and timeline that similarly units most parts of Europe. A narrative that begins primarily from the diverse beginnings of the ancients across the globe and which lead to the civilizations of the Greeks, the Romans, and on through the shifting spotlights of different cultures at different points in time that bloomed and faded as artists reinvented the language of expression according to the times, weaving local exigences as and when they flourished. The early twentieth century was a moment in which a new wave of change was challenging the existing status quo. In Europe, the Moderns were coming into their own, evolving new notions brought forth by Courbet and Delacroix, Manet and Degas, and on into Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and the convulsive impact that the arrival of Picasso had.

French influences on Russian culture were especially strong, but by the time of the early twentieth-century moderns, Russian artists were doing some pretty amazing work themselves. Encouraged by a deal of intense exchange between artists in Paris and St Petersburg, they were striking out in dramatically new directions. Picasso became involved with a group of artists settled around St Petersburg, which included writers, poets, artists and performers, contributing designs to the creations of composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) and ballet master Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929). For example, the leading female artist Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) melded his influence with that from Russian folk arts in her paintings and specifically her costume and graphic designs for the Ballets Russes. Katsuba delves into this rich seam of Russian creative expression in various of those subtle nuances. He also pays his own homage to the legendary figure of Vaslav Nijinsky (1899-1950) in Decision 2011, recreates the unparalleled levitation upon which the fame of the extraordinary ballet dancer was early founded, as one of several images in a series he titled “Nijinsky and the Diamonds”.

Then, there is more recent Russian history. Katsuba’s photographs point us to the distinctive aesthetics of the Soviet Union. A specific prompt here, and extraordinary visual resource had also been discovered during his time in the archive was a massive volume of images of sportsmen and women, of “more than half a million images from the period 1860 to 1996”, which is one of the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. Among these was the archive of the early twentieth-century photographer Karl Bulla – who took the 1914 photograph of the academy – and his sons. Although Bulla’s photographs capture athletic bodies in a pre-Soviet age, the distinctive concerns with male physique seem to have deep cultural roots, for the style finds force in the Soviet preferences for body culture. A perfection, discipline, mastery, and prowess that became an image wholly entwined with the soviet ideology, the determination of the body politik. The field of Olympic sports in the era of the Cold War was dominated by one after another astonishing Soviet or Eastern Bloc gymnast. They certainly mesmerized me as a small child: who didn’t want to fly like a Soviet Olga Korbut or Natalia Shaposhnikova? The muscular physique of the male body particularly exemplified a spirit commensurate with the new Utopia being built behind the iron curtain, which every now and then burst out to garner another slew of gold medals before retreating into the largely unknown massive training camps that lay behind it.

Katsuba’s images are clearly staged and, thus have a conscious aura of performative distance about them. Yet, are we drawn into the world he presents to us. It is, in part, the presence of that “beating heart”, which Solomon describes. Solomon is also the author of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in the Age of Glasnost published in 1991 (Knopf, New York), for which he spent some time in the USSR in the late 1980s, where he saw beyond the gruff surface of the Russian “bear”. Katsuba points the way too, because even though it is obvious from motifs in the photos, like the figures’ expressions, the precision of their postures, and the calculated ornament of the settings that this world is unmistakably Russian, its aspirations, together with its indelible seam of romance-are ones all peoples share in common, no matter who we are or where we are from. As in all great Russian literature, this presence serves to posit delicate questions as to the nature of change between differences eras of time. Human emotion is the very core of our existence.

 

“Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!” 

Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

 

As if moved to pay homage to Russia’s extraordinary literary tradition, Katsuba created a number of seemingly narrative frames, which shift the setting to nature, to the land, in the countryside or simply covered with snow. Far Away from Home, 2004-2011, uses such tropes to convey the romance of melancholy, or as if richly-colored memories tinted with nostalgia. In his Russian Olympic Project for the Winter Games in Turin, 2006, Katsuba takes as models Olympic sportsmen and women, photographed in the rural towns or villages that are their native places. The compositions conjure scenes remembered from his own youth, thus contrasting then with the now of a modern gaze and sensibility.

 

“I ask my heroes to stop, and they stop in front of the camera as if in the infinity of time and space, exposing their greatness, beauty and fragility. That is how I wish to remember them and to talk about them. I photograph them like this, assuming that an artistic photograph will capture the elusiveness and the emotions it aroused in me. At least, I do everything I can to preserve them.”

 

Similarly, «The Seasons» (2000-2005), which includes a group titled “My Friends”, captures the informal gatherings of Katuba’s friends and family in the countryside near their dacha retreats over a period of years. The pictures proffer a vision of Bohemian life bristling with harmony, and creativity. These individuals remind us of great poets, writers, artists, and performers, sensitive souls whose integrity and idealism remains intact, untouched by the world of materialism, the desires that consumerism spits out, manufactures inevitably. The expressions of Katuba’s friends speak of the world at the start of the new millennium, a time when fear of uncertain tomorrows appeared to be becoming a thing of the past.

Today, we feel our world-that being both the specific nation where we were born, and the wider global one we all inhabit to some degree or another -to be on the cusp of a seismic socio-economic and cultural shift (I write this as a European who has spent more than half her life in the East, thus looking at both worlds within and from without). Of what specific nature we cannot yet say. That is for future historians to reveal and, not least, artists who are at their best exploring cultural phenomenon through richly timeless means in the manner that Katsuba does through photography. At this moment in the grand river of time, seen through the prism of a world of social change catalyzed by the global phenomenon that was (is) the 2020 pandemic, the posturing of the figures in his photographs, their often introspective gaze, seem to point as much forward to the self-reliance upon which we will necessarily depend as they direct our gaze back to the past.

 

 

Curator

Karen Smith

 

 

 

Somewhere there is a simple life and a world,
Transparent, warm and joyful. . .
There at evening a neighbor talks with a girl
Across the fence, and only the bees can hear
This most tender murmuring of all.

But we live ceremoniously and with difficulty
And we observe the rites of our bitter meetings,
When suddenly the reckless wind
Breaks off a sentence just begun —


But not for anything would we exchange this splendid
Granite city of fame and calamity,
The wide rivers of glistening ice,
The sunless, gloomy gardens,
And, barely audible, the Muse’s voice.

                              Anna Akhmatova

 

 

 

 

 

俄罗斯浪漫现实主义:瓦莱里·卡苏巴

 

“瓦莱里·卡苏巴是美学大师,他如普拉克西特利斯那样精确而优雅地描绘了人类的身体;而在每一具优美的身体中,他发现了一颗跳动的心。”            

——安德鲁·所罗门

 

正如作家安德鲁·所罗门所言,瓦莱里·卡苏巴编排优雅的人体摄影令人叫绝。和任何伟大艺术品一样,卡苏巴的画面中的“氛围”像是拥有某种魔力深深吸引着我们。无论我们如何用语言描述这种氛围,它都直接影响了我们的感官。那些美丽的躯体用它们有力的肉身存在主宰着画面,而正是它们让每个看见卡苏巴照片人都被他的视觉语言深深吸引。它讲述了一种典型的人类愿景,即我们内心对自己永远无法达到的完美的向往。至少,这种愿望在日常生活中无法实现。

有时,比如在作品《空中飞行,莫斯科,卢日尼基IV,莫斯科》(2010年)或《空中飞行:飞鸟》(2011年)中,这些身体看起来像是从真实的时空中切出,部分因为卡苏巴拍摄的是主体在半空中的状态。第一组照片展示了莫斯科空中体操运动员或空中飞人表演者身体悬在半空,在飞行中做出迎风展翅的姿势,背景只有简单的蓝天。第二组照片使用了黑白拍摄,背景是马戏团帐篷的内部篷布,相对于演员飞得离地面很远,很远的胆量,也同时混淆了我们对空间的理解。

“马戏团的空中飞人和杂技演员是我年轻时的最爱”,卡苏巴说,“某种程度上,对我来说,这些项目实现了我的梦想。我渴望去那上空,那里的一切都是轻盈、美丽和清晰的。”事实上,这些照片让世界看起来确实如此。极简主义的画面将我们指向了一个似乎独一无二的目标:惊叹于人体的壮观——它那非凡的伸展,优雅的曲线和训练有素的能量。

一些经历和机会激励了卡苏巴,从而使他专注于他所说的“Phiscultura”,或形体文化(physical culture)。首先是上文提到的他童年时期惯常的经验。上世纪90年代末,卡苏巴在位于圣彼得堡的中央国家电影、照片和录音文件档案馆工作期间发现了大量关于这一主题的照片收藏,从而他对运动中身体的形象化产生了更广泛的兴趣。尽管当时他已在辅助摄影师制景拍摄作品,他还未成为一个独立摄影艺术家。在克兰斯诺戈尔斯克发现的这些照片收藏无疑对卡苏巴个人风格的发展有着巨大的启发。这两段经历都发生在他青少年到成年的大背景——苏联。

让卡苏巴的作品瞬间抓住眼球的是身体与环境惊人而出乎意料的组合。在宏大的场景中,他构思了一组以体操运动员和芭蕾舞演员为主角的系列作品,他们与各种标志性的艺术作品并置于同一画面中,人物的典雅在具有戏剧性的周围环境中更加突出;舞台般的布景常被被视为的十八、十九世纪庄严风格大型美术馆大厅或类似的华丽建筑空间。当我们读到这组照片中展现的美,以及回荡在照片表面的完美与权利之间的张力,我们会再次惊叹不已。

然而,与此同时,你在这些巧妙构思的照片中感受到了一些更微妙的东西。当你走开时,一种想法会萦绕在你的脑中,你觉得我们从照片中可读的信息和含义比它们展现的效果更为精微。照片的深层含义不易识别,或者说不能以表面看到的“身体美”论之。与我们从生活中积累的每一次体验中极力提取洞见的方式一样,这些微妙的元素需要我们的个人想象力来进行甄别。想,据我们所知现代历史和我们对摄影师卡苏巴所处时代的了解——他出生于1960年代中期的苏联白俄罗斯共和国,并在改革重组时代(Perestroika)成年(1980年代)——他既要选择他的主题,又要选择在21世纪所有重要时刻按下快门。

一个明显的例子也许是卡苏巴为他场景所选择的建筑空间的风格和规模,他经常将背景设置在博物馆或大型艺术学院。纵观历史,类似的结构出现在整个欧洲从古至今所建造的大量建筑物中。它们从一个伟大文明到另一个伟大文明不断发展,从希腊人,到罗马人,到法国人,从文艺复兴到巴洛克,到哥特。随着时间的推移,每个新的时代和地区都不断积累着建筑形态,借鉴设计以及混合搭配,同时也丰富了结构。大多数这些富丽堂皇的建筑被认为是国家实力的象征,代表着一个国家科学工程的高度,或是工业和贸易所积累起的财富总量。如果一个国家希望通过它的艺术成就能为其地缘政治地位锦上添花并被所有国家效仿,那就必须在这两个领域不断提升。当然,大多数国家在这些目标上都取得了成功,因为这些建筑物直至今日仍备受推崇,几乎成为不可剥夺的民族性象征。。一个世纪前的俄罗斯,俄罗斯白人贵族占领着这类宫殿,这些精英阶层的贵族自绝于挣扎求生的贫穷下层工人群众,连同这些宫殿也成为了社会衰败的象征。结果就是革命。在谢尔盖·艾森斯坦1928年的电影《十月:震惊世界的十天》中,电影里的一幕巧妙展现了一个巨大转变的发生:在圣彼得堡一座废弃宫殿空落落的大厅里,一个闪闪发光的水晶吊灯轻轻摇曳,而它曾经的主人已然逃离了反对他们及旧制度的起义群众。现在,尽管这些过去的宫殿仍陷于日益复杂且充满争议的历史叙事网中,但其中的多数已经变成了公共空间,受到公众的喜爱。

在随着时间和历史不断变化的审美表现形式中,卡苏巴找到了大量的灵感:

 

“我一直对风景——不管是自然还是建筑­——相对稳定的特性,以及经历这些风景的人类命运、面孔和历史时代感兴趣。随着时间的推移,我们的可塑性、观点、体型如何变化,或者这些变化是否真的发生?这些令我好奇。”

 

在卡苏巴的许多系列中,他在照片形式和构图上的参考都非常具体、精确。这点也许最直接地体现在了内容多样的《模特:经典和当代》系列中(2008-2019)。该系列借鉴了一项已有百余年历史的艺术实践方法,即在客厅临摹模特。在画面中,体操和其他运动员复刻古典人体雕塑的姿势,与实际的艺术作品并置其中。作为愉悦感官的客体和意义的承载,人体在艺术中的存在可以追溯到古希腊时期,古希腊喜欢男性的身体,就好像它是一个雕塑品。卡苏巴对这点的最直接模仿就是他在博物馆拍摄的那些照片。

构思《百年纪念》系列中的一组照片时,卡苏巴的具体灵感来自于照片档案库中的一幅图像。该图像显示了早期一所艺术学院的活动。

 

  “20世纪90年代末,当我在档案馆工作时,我碰巧看到1914年卡尔·布拉(Karl Bulla)在圣彼得堡列宾美术学院马科夫斯基教授工作室里拍摄的一张人体绘画课的照片。(作者:布拉被誉为第一位俄罗斯摄影大师,也是俄罗斯报道摄影之父)。这张照片激发了我的想象,我要求复印一份。在那之前,我就对学院本身很感兴趣。我记得马林斯基剧院表演结束后,我每次回家途中都想选择一条能带我到扎米亚蒂娜巷的路,它引我到涅瓦河堤岸,在那就能看到列宾美术学院的景色……它雄伟地出现在我的眼前,当我想到在这高墙之后的种种,我就很兴奋。”

 

就像他在马林斯基剧院一样,卡苏巴有时也获准在学院拍摄照片。有一次,“我在学院美术馆拍摄了马林斯基剧院的首席芭蕾舞女演员奥克萨娜·斯科里克(Oksana Skorik),这次拍摄结合了我想拍的各种对象。”

 

  “但无论是拍摄运动员还是芭蕾舞运动员,都无法让我完全满意,而且布拉的照片在我的脑海里挥之不去。我觉得我缺少了一个弥漫在学院空气中的重要元素:创作的能量,以及艺术作品从诞生到最终呈现的过程中那静默的劳作。

     在我打印出那张学院照片的15年之后,我偶然遇见了塞米翁·米哈伊洛夫斯基(艺术史学家和列宾美术学院院长)。这次见面成为了《百年纪念》项目的开始。在卡尔·布拉拍摄那张的照片整整一百年后,我发现自己有机会在学院的影棚里拍照,并且可以学生、模特和教授合作。一个多世纪以来,学院一直保持不变。这是一个探索连续和变化的问题的完美环境,特别是这个空间还承载着一代又一代艺术家的记忆和迷人的创造魔力。

 

俄罗斯艺术史的故事遵循着一条和大部分欧洲国家相似的轨迹和时间线。主流的叙事从古代开始延续到古希腊、古罗马,然后随着不同文化在不同时期重心的变化而盛开、凋零,随着艺术家依据时代并结合当地的迫切需求重新发明的表现语言而繁荣。二十世纪初是新变革浪潮挑战既存现况的时代。在欧洲,现代主义者逐渐崭露头角,库尔贝(Courbet)、德拉克罗瓦(Delacroix)、马奈(Manet)和德加(Degas)持续带来新的观念,印象主义、后印象主义、还有毕加索的出现接踵而至,带来剧烈的影响。

法国文化对俄罗斯的影响尤其强烈,不过到了二十世纪初,俄罗斯艺术家们也创作出了自己的杰出作品。受巴黎和圣彼得堡艺术家之间大量交流的鼓舞,他们朝着崭新的方向发展。毕加索和一群在居住在圣彼得堡周围的艺术家们有了交流,这个小团体中有作家、诗人、艺术家和表演者。他为作曲家伊戈尔·斯塔文斯基(Igor Stavinsky(1882-1971))和芭蕾舞大师Diaghilev(1872-1929)的作品提供了设计。 例如,著名的女画家纳塔利娅·贡恰洛娃(Natalia Goncharova(1881-1962)在绘画作品中受到了毕加索与俄罗斯民间艺术的影响,而这种融合尤其体现在她为俄罗斯芭蕾舞团所作的服装和平面设计中。卡苏巴深入研究了俄罗斯丰富的创意表达里的各种细微差别。他还通过《尼金斯基和钻石》系列中的多幅作品向传奇人物尼金斯基[1]致敬,其中的一副作品《决策》(2011)重现了使这位杰出的芭蕾舞演员年少成名的无与伦比的悬浮感

卡苏巴的作品中还指向了更近的俄罗斯历史。他的照片为我们展示了苏联独特的美学。他在档案馆工作期间,惊人的图像资源对他构成了一个明确的提示。他们发现了大量男女运动员的图像,“超过50万张照片拍摄于1860年至1996年期间[2],这一收藏的数量如此庞大,世上绝无仅有。这其中包括20世纪初摄影师卡尔·布拉的和他的儿子维克多的档案——前者在1914年拍摄了列宾美术学院的照片。虽然布拉的照片所拍摄的是前苏联时期的运动身形,但这种男性体格的独特关注似乎具有深厚的文化根源,因为在苏联人对身体文化的偏好中,这一结合了完美、纪律、控制力和高超技艺的形象和苏联的意识形态与身体政治决策完全交融。冷战时期的奥运会,一个又一个难以置信的苏联或东方集团国家的体操运动员主宰着赛场。当时还是小孩的我,他们当然让我着迷:  谁不想像苏联的奥尔加 · 科尔布特或娜塔莉亚 · 沙波什尼科娃那样飞行?男性身体的肌肉体格尤其体现了一种与铁幕后面正在建造的新乌托邦相称的精神。他们不时出现,狂揽金牌,之后又退回铁幕后那未知的巨大训练营中。

卡苏巴的照片是明显的摆拍因此照片中有意识地营造着一种表演舞台独具距离感的氛围。然而我们仍被他呈现给我们的世界所吸引所罗门描述的“跳动的心”,在一定程度上,是存在的。所罗门是1991年出版的《讽刺塔:开放时代的苏联艺术家》[3] 一书的作者,他为此在20世纪80年代末在苏联呆了一段时间,在那里观察到了俄罗斯»«性粗野外表之外的特性。卡苏巴也指出了这一点,因为,尽管从照片中的元素——例如人物的表情,精确的姿势以及环境里经过精心设计的装饰中可以明显看出这无疑是俄罗斯的世界,但这种渴望以及不可磨灭的浪漫气息是所有民族所共有的的,不管我们是谁,或是来自哪里。就像在所有伟大的俄罗斯文学中一样,它的存在对不同时代之间变化的本质提出了微妙的质询。人类的情感是我们存在的核心。

 

“噢!人有时是多么渴望逃避无意义的人类辞令的枯燥,逃避那些冠冕堂皇的语句,躲到无法言喻的自然中去啊!不得已求其次,能逃入冗长无休的劳作中、酣睡中或真正的音乐中也好,不然就沉湎在含情脉脉的无言的理解中!”

  ——鲍里斯·帕斯特纳克,《日瓦戈医生》

 

仿佛是为了向俄罗斯伟大的文学传统致敬,卡苏巴创作了一些看似叙事的画面,他将背景转移到自然风光、土地、乡村或简单的被雪覆盖的地方。《远离家乡》(2004-2011)便用这样的画面来传达忧郁的浪漫,或是在色彩浓郁的回忆染上一丝怀旧。在他的《都灵冬奥会——俄罗斯奥林匹克项目》(2006)中,卡苏巴选用奥运会男女运动员为模特,在他们家乡的乡村小镇或村庄拍摄。这些作品让卡苏巴联想到自己年轻时的场景,从而使过去与当下的现代凝视和感性形成了鲜明对比。

 

«我要求我的英雄们停下来,他们停在镜头前仿佛他们置身于永恒的时间和无限的空间中,显露出他们的伟大、美丽和脆弱。我希望以此来记住他们,谈论他们。我将这一刻拍摄下来,希望一张艺术照片能捕捉到我内心的难以捉摸和情感至少,我尽我所能来保存它们。”

 

同样,《四季》系列(2000-2005)中一组名为《我的朋友照片记录了卡苏巴的朋友和家人多年来在他们的乡间别墅附近举行的轻松聚会。它们描绘了波希米亚生活充满和谐和创造力的景象。这些人令我们想起伟大的诗人、作家、艺术家和表演者。这些敏感的灵魂们,他们的正直和理想主义完好无损,他们不受消费主义所滋生的对物质世界无止境欲望的影响。卡苏巴朋友的表情代表了那个新千年之初的世界,那时对不确定的明天的恐惧似乎已成为过去。

今天,我们感到我们的世界——不仅是我们出生的某个国家,也是我们在某种程度上居住的更广泛的全球网络——正处在社会经济和文化发生剧烈转变的风口浪尖上。(作为一位在亚洲度过了大半生的欧洲人,我能从局内局外的角度观察两个世界。)我们还不能说出这种变化的具体本质。这只能靠未来的历史学家们去揭秘,而同样重要的是,艺术家们正在竭尽所能用各种不受时间影响的方式探索文化现象,就像卡苏巴通过摄影所做的那样。这一刻,在时间的长河中,从2020年至今的世界疫情这一全球现象所催化的社会变革的角度来看,他照片中人物的姿态,那些大多内省的凝视,似乎不仅让我们回望过去,更将我们指向我们赖以存续的自主精神。

策展人

凯伦·史密斯

 

 

须知简朴的生活总在某处,

还有透明、温暖和快乐的光……

那里,姑娘隔着篱墙与邻居在暮色中交谈,

唯有蜜蜂听到其中最温柔的情语。

 

而我们庄严而艰难地生活,

尊重我们痛苦会晤的那些礼仪,

当一阵冒失的风吹起,

几乎打断才开始的话语,

 

——但不论用什么,我们都不会交换

这座荣誉和灾难并存的花岗岩之城,

它宽广的河流漂着晶莹的寒冰,

黑黢黢、不眠的花园,

还有隐约可闻的缪斯的歌声。[4]

—— 安娜·阿赫玛托娃

 

 

[1] 尼金斯基 Vaslav Nijinsky (1889~1950) 波兰血统的俄国芭蕾演员和编导。20世纪的芭蕾史上,素有“最伟大的男演员”之誉。

[2] Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, “Muscle Maryas”, 卫报,January 28, 2006

[3] The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in the Age of Glasnost, published by Knopf, New York, 1991

[4] 译文选自《须知简朴的生活总在某处》,《阿赫玛托娃诗选》,汪剑钊译, 人民文学出版社

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