Sunday 17 May 2009

Trip to Sharmanka Studios (01.02.09)

Russian Kinetic Sculpture Studios - 64 Osborne Street, Glasgow

SHARMANKA (Russian for hurdy-gurdy) was founded by sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky and theatre director Tatyana Jakovskaya in St.Petersburg (Russia) in 1989. Audiences in many countries have been fascinated by its magic, and based in Glasgow since 1996 it has gained a reputation as one of the city’s hidden treasures.

In 1961 it was the time of the Khrushchev "thaw". People started to write and paint in private without joining the official Union of Soviet Artists and Writers. An 'underground' culture spread through people's flats , too widely dispersed for the KGB to control. In 1975 thousands of people queued for hours to get into an exhibition put on at Constantine Kuzminsky's flat.

A few days after closing, all participants were called to the City Department of Culture and told that nothing like that would be tolerated again and many of his friends were forced to leave the country, were arrested or just disappeared altogether. Eduard didn't actively oppose the regime. Like countless others he chose to resist passively. He was one of those known as 'internal emigrants' who left the Soviet Union Psychologically though not physically.

Self Portrait and monkey

"In the belfry of the millennium clock there was going to be the sort of traditional figures associated with mechanical clocks - figures that reflected the life cycle from birth to death. But then it came clear that something else should be remembered from this millennium, the millions imprisoned, murdered, maimed and vanished. Finally we named it Requiem..." Tatyana Jakovskaya (Eduard Bersudsky's wife)

Millenium Clock Tower

Words don't sit easily on Eduard Bersudsky's works:

"they are re-awakenings of old, half-forgotten myths. They spring from the collective memory of us all. When we see Eduard's work we recognise it; it's as though it's always been. This is the hallmark of great art - the rediscovery of what's lasting." - Julian Spalding

Portrait of Eduard Bersudsky

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