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Kinovari (imitazia)


A project, born out in pain by the artistic duo
Lilia Dragneva and Lucia Macari

"KINOVARI-cinnabar (HgS), mercury sulfate-oxide chemical element (crystalline rock) of a reddish color. It is used to produce the oil color. Since it is unstable when exposed to air (it oxidizes easily and loses its color), the artificially produced analog color is used in painting. We have known it by its Russian version "Kinovari-imitazia". So we decided to call the project by the same name, "KINOVARI-IMITAZIA."

Once, when we still were young and exemplary schoolgirls at the arts school, we felt indignation at the impossibility of finding REAL cinnabar paint. Only years later did we learn that such paint didn't exist because of its unstable chemical structure.
Later still, while watching with a teenage sense of tragedy the departing illusions of childhood, we were discussing the repetition we had noticed, especially in the arts. Some of our childhood friends were "like Van Gogh," others were "like Matisse," others still -"like Duchamp." We were struck, and at the same time disappointed, by the real impossibility of creating something new, authentic. All our attempts at finding it were shattered by one of the authorities: Magritt, Beuys, or Kabakov, for instance. Our confusion had no boundaries...
Then we had to defend our final theses; we were handed our diplomas, had to take entrance exams. The student euphoria kicked in. The freedom we all of a sudden had felt pushed us onto the path of intensive experimentation. We had tried everything! Well, almost everything. From painting with semolina to an attempt to build a small fire on a human's head under the eyes of the "flabbergasted audience."
In this quite banal way we gained a reputation of "scandalous" girls and were invited to the just-born Soros Center for Contemporary Art, which welcomed with open arms all kinds of "marginals," in the arts as well as in life. That was when the weirdest things started happening...

At the beginning we were having lots of fun. New people, new discussions, new information tickled our young, still malleable minds. As we were endowed by nature with excessive energy, we started "ingurgitating" the new, "modern" forms of art with unrestrained enthusiasm. Butů The rat started smelling pretty soon...
The newly cooked marginals, whose company was composed of professional artists as well as accidental people, armed with pencils, notebooks and sandwiches, used to go to the SCCA at least once a week and-devoutly chewing-leaf through fresh (and less so) catalogues and magazines of contemporary art.
And pioneer works appeared...
..."That's Andy Warhol!" we used to shout with bewilderment, contemplating a series of colored photographs on the wall...
..."There's Yves Klein!" we were looking at the photographs of works by a young local marginal and didn't know whether to rejoice or feel surprised...
..."Look! A breath short of Pollock!" someone spilled out while watching a video demonstration of another Moldavian performance...
But we felt at the pick of confusion when in one of the Moscow* newspapers we read the following, concerning one of our works:

"... Moldavian artists, following the example of their Mediterranean brethren, are torturing the public (...) by music whose score was written by bullets shot from a shotgun or the keys of a typewriter. Moldavian artists seem not to know-or pretend not knowing-who were Robert Rauchenberg, Niki de Saint Phalle and John Cage, who had clamored and dinned with their installations in the '60s..."

That's when we panicked. What now? So all we did was plagiarism or references in the best case. Or simply a banal schoolgirl's copy. So there was no place for us in the arts! So we were not wanted at this party called life! So we were to be jettisoned!
This was a true existential tragedy. We felt done out of our share, robbed by all those Duchamps, Johnsons, Cages, Paiks, Kosuths... We were being jettisoned and told we were professionally unfit. But we held on...
And all of a sudden, one routine day, the following idea dropped in during a discussion we were having:
"What if we approach this vital problem from the other end?!"

And then we sat down to a computer keyboard, with a meek and extremely modest look, and typed, slowly, mumbling and stammering, this simple, school-like text:

"The low level of the classes on the history of this century's art has had adverse repercussions on the education of young artists. This drawback in the artistic education is a consequence of a shortage of teachers, insufficient teaching aids, etc. "KINOVARI-IMITAZIA" is a contribution to making up for the shortage of information (on the art of the 20th century) by means of an art project based on "copying" or "imitating" works of art made by 20th century artists. "Copying" is a process often used by art students to learn the techniques of producing a work of art. We, however, are not interested in studying the techniques used with a certain medium as much as to learn, identify, or understand deeper a movement or an artist. We called on artists to make copies of art works of their choice from various periods of this century, and then sign them as authors. The copies will be accompanied by text, which will explain the reason for choosing a particular work of art and describe the whole work process. We will not limit ourselves only to copies of "objectual" art; we will also accept to our collection performance, action, video, and other ephemeral artistic events.
The collection of copies will be then exhibited, and later we'll provide continuity to it by "commissioning" new works from arts students and established artists."


* In 1998 we have been in Moscow and took part at International Forum of Art Initiatives which have been held in "Maliy Manezh" hall. We exhibited a videoinstallation called "Transformation of sound into image and image into sound".

** First exhibition from this project have been held on june5-15, 2000.

> Project presentation

Part I
Part I

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