PART 2/2: Continued from last weeks post here...
Dmitry lives upstairs from Nadya, also with his parents, grandparents and two dogs. Dmitry sound-proofed his bedroom and creates music within it – another creative outlet he is passionate about. His style is more electronic, as opposed to Nadya’s interest in hip-hop. Dmitry excitedly tells me how he saw Dave Clarke in Fabric while in London, and explains the stark difference in the vibe when Dave Clarke played at that venue, compared with his Moscow set. Dmitry said the Londoners really got into the music, while in Moscow the vibe was quite mellow.
Dmitry is someone who really loves talking about his work and you can tell he really lives for his art – with all the ups and downs merely part of the ride. He points out the graffiti he and Nadya did on the abandoned concrete blocks below their building, noting that construction had started on the building, but the company ran out of money and the building had been left in its current state for years. They painted a sun in one area to give neighbours something nice to look down on.
Dmitry likes living where he does and says it is a great source for creative inspiration. He said if he lived somewhere perfect, he might not think about things like he does. “When everything is good, you would just enjoy it all and not question things which would restrict creativity and thoughts.”
Dmitry’s work is influenced by the “nature of art” and uses various mediums depending on the need of the project. His largest, titled ‘Конструктор’, which loosely translates to ‘Construction Set’, spans over 10 exhibitions, and uses more than 40,000 pieces (which he cut himself) based off his favorite toy (small rectangles with a slit on each side for construction), as a metaphor for “art product”.
Dmitry best describes his work, which he calls a game: “The idea of this four year game is satire on a subject of today’s system of art. Usually it is accepted to call as ‘institutional criticism’. This project is created to show how cold empty selling art is now. All those institutions, fairs, galleries, business-art, festivals, prizes, web sites, collectors, etc – generally they are a cover without the contents. The main thing for me is the idea in art. I can decorate it with fine art; installation, sculpture etc. but the idea is first.”
Dmitry has done really well for himself with exhibitions of his large-scale installation works in all of Moscow’s top galleries at only 26 years. He tells me: “Many people are dreaming of a life like that, but it was only my little art game. And I want to go on playing!”
He took time off from Russia’s art scene last year and went into self-imposed hibernation. Dmitry had reached a point where he had to question what he was doing and why. His installations sometimes take up to a year to complete and receive minimal funding from galleries (the most Dmitry ever received was $1000). Dmitry often needs to fund them himself and call on his friends and Nadya to assist with construction. The financial support he needs just doesn’t exist in Russia. He also talks of widespread corruption and of a dictatorship within the curators – which is something he comments on within some of his installations. Having been involved in the industry for so long, Dmitry had become tired of it.
Dmitry is keen to move with Nadya when she settles on a course. He is no stranger to moving, nor hardship. He was born in the Russian city of Nizhni Tagil, but due to severe respiratory problems and pneumonia as a child caused by factory smoke and wet weather, his family shifted south to the drier climate of Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Baikonur is home to the Russian space program, the site known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Originally built by Soviet Russia, it’s now leased to Russia from Kazakhistan. Dmitry’s grandparents worked at the space centre and he remembers watching the rocket launches. He lived at Baikonur until the family shifted to Moscow when he was about 11 years old. After school Dmitry moved to Saint-Petersburg for university, before returning to Moscow aged 24.
Dmitry, is a good-natured and passionate individual. His passion drives him and keeps him going, despite his frustrations with the system. The first question I put to him was what he would change about Moscow. When I think about his answer now, it makes me laugh.