The Taman Decameron exhibition by Sergei Kulikov and Nikolay Smirnov

The monument by N.A. Lvov, dedicated to the Stone of Tmutarakan and erected in 1803 in a Phanagoria church. Drawing by I. Ivanov, engraving by A. Ermolaev. From the book by A.N. Olenin Letter to Count A.I. Musin-Pushkin about the Stone of Tmutarakan found on Taman Island in 1792. St Petersburg, Medical Printing House, 1806. Digitized by the Russian State Library
In The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, a group of ten young people decide to isolate themselves in a villa in the countryside during the Black Death in 1348 and spend two weeks 'quarantining'. The plague described in The Decameron was brought to Europe from the Genoese colonies of the Northern Black Sea region, including Mapa (Anapa) where it had arrived from the depths of Asia down the Silk Road. Other than depicting the pandemic-stricken country, Boccacio's Decameron is considered one of the first humanistic utopias: by telling stories in solitude, the characters create new worlds and embody an ideal community.

We take The Decameron as a method and as a structure and superimpose it on the whole of Taman, circling back to the path made by the Renaissance pandemic. The exhibition is based on the results of two studies: architectural and figurative-geographical phenomena, geo-utopian imagination and the history of the two epidemics in the area. The display comprises the most striking cases, which manifest the genius of the place, and is made up of three parts. In the 'scene', or location, part we will talk about the liberation of the mazanka hut and the eclectic monument by architect Nikolay Lvov, dedicated to the Stone of Tmutarakan. The second part will explore the narrative of the two deadly epidemics in the area: the mid-14th century plague and the epidemic that caused the destruction of local Colchis boxwood circa 2014. Lastly, the local context is full of attempts to embody ideal territorial utopias, which is manifested through communes, artels or art communities. Following in their footsteps, we use The Decameron as a method and display the exhibition against the pastoral backdrop of the Golubitskoe Estate.

The participation of artists who live and work in Taman in the exhibition is another result of the curators' study of the local area. The invited artists convey the local context and work with the subject of territorial utopias/dystopias, communes and communities.

The exhibition will be on view at the Golubitskoe Art Foundation's gallery from 10 December 2020 to 3 April 2021.

About the participants:

Sergei Kulikov (b. 1976, Moscow, Russia) is an architectural historian, analyst and expert in sociocultural programming and urban and rural development. He studied Art History and Theory at Moscow State University, focusing on urban planning and especially on the concept of the ideal city in the Italian Renaissance. At the Golubitskoe Art Foundation, he conducted a field study of the cultural landscape, and put together an eclectic atlas – a short architecture guide of the Taman Peninsula.

Nikolay Smirnov (b. 1982, Moscow, Russia) is an artist, geographer, curator, and researcher of spatial practices, and representations of space and place across art, science, museum traditions and everyday life. As part of the Golubitskoe Art Foundation residency programme, he is working on a research paper on the 'geo-utopian and geo-eschatological imagination of Taman' and The Taman Decameron exhibition, which also includes the field study for the Mechanics of the Epidemic project, dedicated to the multi-factor processes of the spread of the epidemic (both human and non-human, mental, geopolitical, etc.)

Alina Desyatnichenko (born in 1991, Tashkent) is a documentary photographer and artist. She moved to Krasnodar Region (or Kuban, as locals call it) at the age of 16. In her solo projects, she reflects on the category of the ideal, examining this subject in different social contexts.

The ZIP group is a Russian art group established in Krasnodar in 2009. Current members: Evgeny Rimkevich, brothers Vasily and Stepan Subbotin. The ZIP group has founded the Krasnodar Institute of Contemporary Art (KICA), the CAN independent street art festival, the Pyatikhatki artist residency and co-founded the Typography Center for Contemporary Art in Krasnodar.

Vladimir Migachev (b. 1959, Kucheryaevo village of, Oryol region) studied art and graphics at Kuban State University. The artist's works can be found in the ARTSTORY Gallery of Contemporary Art (Moscow), the Kovalenko Art Museum in Krasnodar, the Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art (St Petersburg), the Museum of Fine Arts (Vladikavkaz), the North Caucasus branch of the State Museum of Oriental Art (Maykop), as well as in private collections.

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