"to be Controversial" - a Social View on the Russian Art Piece at the Venice Biennale in 2013 ("Russia: Never overturn")

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: Booth 57
Oral Presentation
Elena ROZHDESTVENSKAYA , Sociology, National Research University, Moscow, Russia
The author analyzes the art piece, which was established on the basis of national competition concept art with the focus of  Russian national idea. The roly-poly , a 5-meter-high dynamic sculpture, featuring a wooden log crowned with a double-headed eagle, which rises back up when pushed over, is showcased at the biennial contemporary art fair in Venice.

Visual analysis of the subject contains a political representation: the conjunction of the images of majestic orb and traditional doll, the roly-poly, creates the effect of dynamics, together with the provocative slogan “Try overturn” as an invitation, defiant challenge to the aggressive counter- play with the audience.

The subject of textual analysis represents 458 art concepts involved in the digital competition, they  demonstrate significant meaningful references for the understanding of the national idea in Russia. Several steps of coding in the qualitative  tradition of grounded theory summarizes a thick description of the different thematic fields. As a result, the top ten most important components of the national idea in order of importance are: state symbols, family and children, Christian symbols, animalistic imagery,  anthropocentric imagery,  moral and humanitarian values, liberal values (2.4 % of the total number of ideas), environmental values, the idea of revival and patriotism. Interpretation of the narrative (N130) core focuses on the change, transformation, physical effort, glorious death, salvation and hope.

In general, the analysis of this art piece reflects an important condition for the modern media presentations - the idea of conflict, the collision of  ideological spaces. But the authors of sculpture understanding of national idea as "a thought that gives us the strength to improve life" is visually aggressive, and substantively - rather archaic.