Since April 12 an intelligent Russian dog lives in a specially built box inside Deitch Projects' space. Come and see it yourself - a pretty good doggy home with steel door, observation windows and stuff. That's the place for 'I Bite America, America Bites Me' performance by Oleg Kulik, Russia's most prominent radical artist. During three weekends (and two weeks in between) he is going to be a dog. His performance, curated by Mila Bredikhina, and organized by Jeffry Deitch, is a kind of opposite to famous perfromance with coyote by Joseph Beuys - 'I Love America, America Loves Me'.
Leaving Moscow Oleg Kulik has given the in.sider editor an interview: what he feels about, fears and expects from his first trip to America.
S.K: Oleg, why America?
O.K: For me America has always been what usually Europe was for intellectuals here. That is a keeper of great culture and of inviolable values, which America is typically deprived of. Knowing about Beuys's action, I've been thinking about how to answer. Untill there was Soviet Union, we had no ways to contact the West and there couldn't be any dialogue. When independent Russia became open, Western illusions about it disappeared - we became a malign loveless creature, like a mad dog. Then I got an idea of making a performance quite opposite to the famous Beuys' perfromance. If Beuys went to America as a human and contacted America symbolized by a coyote - in other words, cultured Europe met wild America) - then I'm coming there as a dog, as if wild Russia meets civilized America.
S.K: What do you feel about 'conquering' America?
O.K: I'm afraid of America, I fear that it might turn me into an animal. But I'm a kind of winning artist, I can't let myself lose. That's why I turn my inevitable defeat into a gesture, into a performance.
K.S: You're lucky to hit one of the best places in New York. How did it happen?
O.K: Oh, it's like a dream. I knew quite a few American curators. Of course I heard much about Jeffrey Deitch; his briiliant show 'Post-Human' was really an event of the decade. But first Ronald Feldman asked for my proposal, but after some time he forwarded me to Exit Art. I sent there proposal, and got no answer. Once at night I was awaken by a ring, and a voice said "Hello, I'm Jeffry Deitch". My wife, Mila Bredikhina, - almost asleep - spoke to him and then said the following: It was Jeffry Deitch, he said you're a great artist, and he wants to make your exhibit. I was ready and almost immediately sent my proposal. In a couple of days Jeffry replied - everything's OK, we're doing it. Terrific situation!
K.S: How did you plan your performance?
O.K: During preparatory stage I've changed several models of my doggish behaviour in American performance. First was wild aggression. Then - total unawareness, no contact with viewers, like I'm 'the other'. But within some time I understood something about human qualities of Americans, and now I'd rather be a philosophically open-minded dog, ready for dialogue.
K.S: Now, that you know everything's gonna happen, what's your forecast of the situation?
O.K: Although there was launched advertising - 'Flash Art', 'ArtNews' and so on - Jeffry Deitch told me recently that many people in New York are confused about this performance, some are afraid. I thought this event was known to a rather narrow circle. Though with such a weird popularity, I have to change the accent. Of course, I'd be standing on my fours, but you may be foorfooted in a thousand ways. I'd be a thinking dog, open to communication. Let the attitude to me be even negative. My concern is to change the sign from negative to positive. I shoud sponge out expectations. My appearance in Deitch Projects is even more important for Russian contemporary art than just for myself. Since Ilya Kabakov was the only Russian artist accepted by the West, and now he is absorbed - he was even chosen for Whitney Biennale as 'an American artist' - we had no chance to get into international art scene. I feel that I have to make my best, or Russian art would be left in a marginal zone yet for some more time. So, good bye Moscow, bow-wow New York...
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