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The Blue Noses


Mon 28 Jun 2010, 9:00am–5:00pm
Tue 29 Jun 2010, 9:00am–5:00pm
Wed 30 Jun 2010, 9:00am–7:00pm
Thu 1 Jul 2010, 9:00am–7:00pm
Fri 2 Jul 2010, 9:00am–7:00pm

Where: Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, 84 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

The Blue Noses - 25 Performances About Globalisation
Exhibition runs from Thurs 27 May until Sat 3 July.

The Blue Noses are a Siberian art group whose videos combine schoolboy humour with slapstick action to lampoon world leaders and their politics. Their video work is currently on show at the Film Archive mediagallery for six weeks.

25 Performances About Globalisation has been brought to New Zealand by Marcus Williams, an Auckland-based artist and curator. Williams first met one of the Blue Noses Konstantin Skotnikov and his wife at an exhibition opening in St Petersburg in 2004. They became friends and over the following five years Williams made several return trips to Russia, subsequently presenting Russian art works for public display in Auckland and Dunedin.

Now the work of The Blue Noses, who represented Russia at the 2005 Venice Biennale, comes to Wellington. In 25 Performances About Globalisation The Blue Noses shoot fireworks out of their pants. They wave toy guns. In Americanization one Blue Nose uses a piece of string to force another’s face into a smile while asking, “Are you ok? Are you ok?” If the topics these artists tackle are rather large, they are addressed via a brazen idiocy that sends up the misuse of power.

While The Blue Noses are concerned with world politics, Williams also points to the recent political change in Russia as a catalyst for the groups work. He says the Western revolution of Glasnost and Perestroika has brought political and social chaos, creating vast gaps between rich and poor.

“The levels of corruption in ‘new’ Russia simply beggar belief. They have one of the most powerful and feared mafia in the world. Western perspectives ignore the fact that Glasnost also saw the dissemination of sixty years of economic, social and political infrastructure and replaced it with…nothing. Leaving the pickings for a bunch of Politburo insiders who are now some of the wealthiest oligarchs in the world controlling Russia’s oil, gas, mining, shipping and aero industry."

With titles like World’s Policemen, Export of Democracy and Brainwashing, 25 Performances About Globalisation seems ripe for suppression by the Russian Government. Some have speculated that allowing such openly critical political art to continue makes the Putin regime appear open-minded. The Blue Noses now have a worldwide profile having appeared in Venice.

Yet, despite their success, Blue Nose Konstantin Skotnikov and his family live in a cramped apartment in Moscow where his twin children share a double bed with a board down the middle. As a Professor of Fine Arts with twenty-five years experience, he earns US$70 per month. Another Blue Nose member and his family also live in Skotnikov’s apartment.

The poverty of their situation means they work with ultra cheap materials. There are no high-tech elements to their video work in 25 Performances and Williams draws a comparison with the Russian tradition of the ‘itinerant clown,’ called Skomorokhs.

“The Skomorokhs were court jesters who were the only people able to safely (a bit) criticize the Tsar. As it is to a clown, the body is the most accessible and inexpensive material available to the Blue Noses; props, costumes, low-tech post-production treatments and indeed the concepts themselves, are equally democratic“.

The core members of the Blue Noses are Alexander Shaburov, Slava Mizin and Konstantin Shotnikov. They gained their name when, on the eve of the new millennium (31 December 1999) Mizin, Shaburov and friends locked themselves in a bomb-shelter and made a series of videos in which they wore blue bottle-tops on their noses. The epithet 'Blue Noses' was coined. They gave up trying to shake off the tag in 2003 when they arrived at a hotel to find that they were booked in with the surname Blyunosez.

When asked how ordinary Russians react to The Blue Noses, Williams says, “They laugh and cry at the same time thinking…I was Russia.”

Restaurants to book near The Blue Noses