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The upcoming exhibition is scheduled for June 11

Dissociated personality is a heavy mental illness which reduces the countless variety of beings, into which a human being is split, to miserable two ones.
                                                                                                          Jerzy Letz

Wikipedia defines phantasmagoria as “a conglomeration of bizarre images, visions, reveries, chaos, confusion and grotesque”. Definition dictionary of the Russian language in 4 volumes, edited by Ushakov, suggests “nonsense – colloquial, impossible thing”. One of the definitions of the word phantasmagoria in the World Mind even states that: “Phantasmagoria (a system of target indication) is a Russian aviation station of target indication for anti-radar missiles X-58 and X-25 MP”.
Except for station (though no one can be sure of anything) all the above mentioned definitions of phantasmagoria are reduced to the determination of the aforesaid as an obvious antonym to the notion of reality. But if this is so, one needs to define first the very notion of reality to be able then to realize what phantasmagoria (e contrario*) really means. The same World Mind defines reality (realis**) as a philosophic term that means objectively existing facts, i.e. really existing (but who is this idiot who guarantees objectiveness of his/her perception?).
The World Mind distinguishes objective (material) reality from the subjective one which is a phenomenon of consciousness. All this is, surely, nice, but what is the point? For example, I am here walking down the objectively real street while an objectively charming lady is walking towards me. And I, being an artist who relates to a concept of reality, depict this charming lady in all her charm. But some of my colleagues, watching this charming lady, depict a disgusting cankered being crawling down the same street, moving its very long tentacles. This is phantasmagoria, damn it, and nothing else!
 

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PHANTASMAGORIA OF REALITY

And here we have the student Pavel Filonov depicting a model, that is to say, a naked man. “What are you doing?” exclaims the professor noticing that, instead of skin, Filonov carefully delineates blood vessels and nerves. “Fool”, Filonov snaps and leaves. However, cancer which corrodes the charming lady, though unknown to herself yet, is objectively no less a reality than nerves and blood vessels concealed under the model’s skin. Why then it is specifically them that are phantasmagoria, but not the model’s skin and not the seductive look of the lady quite healthy in appearance?
There is no one reality, there are many; the thing is that differently from us, simple mortals, a good artist is able to see them. So, it is a grave mistake to endow an artist with such qualities as bold fantasy, bright fiction – all this is just bullshit***. An artist does not invent anything, he just loyally copies the reality which is hidden from our eyes. However, discovering another reality (we have to admit it) is a hard and sometimes dangerous kind of work. That is why Vrubel has to peer eternally long into an opalescent mother-of-pearl of a shell before he sees in it glittering bodies of water-nymphs. Goya will have to become deaf to be able to see demons inhabiting Quinta del Sordo****.
Phantasmagoria is similar to a miracle, but in this world there’s no miracle higher than a miracle of everyday life. As Matisse once said, there are always flowers in this life for those who want to see them. Life consists of miracles, and it is only our fault that we cannot realize this. A peacock at the snow-covered fountain, is it a miracle, a phantasmagoria or reality? Life is full of poetry, but there are just few poets. These words belong to the creator of “Amarcord” *****, an artist in whose works reality is like phantasmagoria, and fantasies are like reality. Often, very often you need the help of artists (for that they pretty much exist) to understand that the world is not flat and boringly grey, but strikingly coloured and multidimensional. Sometimes for that you also need poets, as the one who wrote 564 years ago:

I’m dying of thirst next to the fountain,
Hot as fire, but teeth chattering;
In my own country, I’m in a faraway land;
Near the open flame, I shiver uncontrolably;
Nude as a worm, dressed like a president,
I smile through tears and wait without hope;
Taking comfort in sad desperation;
I rejoice without a single pleasure;
I’m powerful, but without force or persuasion,
Well received, rejected by all.

Nothing is sure for me except that which is uncertain;
Obscure, save that which is plainly evident;
I have no doubt, save of that which is certain;
Science is that which happens accidentally;
I win every time and still lose;
At daybreak saying: “God grant you a good night!”
Lying upside down, I have a great fear of falling;
I have plenty and yet not one possession;
I wait to inherit and am heir to no man,
Well received, rejected by all.

I don’t care about anything, but I’ve taken great pains
To acquire goods, but don’t pretend to have any;
Whoever is kind to me, that’s who I disdain,
And who speaks the most truthfully to me, actually lies;
He is my friend, who can make me believe that

A white swan is a black crow;
And whoever harms me, believes he has the power to help me;
Lies, truth, today it’s all the same to me;
I remember everything, I can’t conceive of anything,
Well received, rejected by all.

Lenient Prince, you may wish to know
All that I`ve heard but did not understand:
I hold myself apart, but am ruled by common law.
What more can I do? What? Get back my wages,
Well received, rejected by all.

 

Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2016 by Laura Prichard

                                                                                     Sasha Okun

* From the opposite (Latin)
** Real, material (Latin)
*** Nonsense. Literally – shit of a bull (English)
**** House of a Deaf One (Spanish).The walls of this house were decorated by Goya.      Now the frescos are kept in Prado. 
***** F. Fellini.
****** Francois Villon “Ballad on the Examination at Blois, transl. by Ilya Erenburg.