Monday Begins on Saturday

Ekaterina Degot, David Riff

Monday Begins on Saturday is a critical meditation on the potentials and pitfalls of the ever-more ubiquitous yet at the same time elusive notion of “artistic research.” The project takes its title from a novel by Soviet sci-fi writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky about a fictitious research institute staffed by a motley assemblage of fairytale beings and mad scientists who are trying to solve the problem of human happiness through magic. The first iteration of the Bergen Assembly attempts to “read” this narrative through a literary and intellectual re-working of the novel for today. A montage of newly commissioned artists’ projects and historical material, punctuated with fragments from literature, and quasi-fictional curatorial annotations, the Assembly is conceived as an aggregate or archipelago of fictitious research institutes—a little like the departments in the novel—“hosted” by existing institutions in Bergen. This constellation forms a retelling of the Strugatskys’ animal fables, ethno-fictions, scams, and tall tales through the golems and projections of our own time, in this age of hypercapitalist necromancy. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, a print version of the curatorial montage with newly commissioned and anthologized theoretical, literary, and artistic texts and contributions. An international symposium featuring artist’s talks and panel discussions with the project’s contributors also takes place during the opening days of the Bergen Assembly.

Ekaterina Degot and David Riff were invited to realize the first edition of the Bergen Assembly, a new art trienniale in the city of Bergen, Norway, - a rare case of Russian curators realizing an international project. The outcome was highly original – the exhibition dealt with the contradictions and injustices of our time without being didactical or illustrative, and activated the potential of the critical imagination and narrativity, so important for Russian culture. Visually, the exhibition was highly original as well; the curators opted for 11 venues instead of one, presenting them as eleven fictitious research institutes with a reference to the novel most important topics, - Institute of Disappearing Future, Institute of Imaginary States, Institute of Love and Lack Thereof, and others. Almost all of the venues were turned into a spectacular theatrical installation invented by curators themselves. The whole ensemble was polished to the slightest detail.

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