Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky: “Everywhere in the world there are wars of memory”
In the Hermitage has opened four exhibitions dedicated to the upcoming 100th anniversary of the revolution.
How the main Museum of the country is responding to modern trends, “AIF” said the Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky.
By the way, on the eve of Day of Russia he was awarded the state prize of the Russian Federation “for contribution to preservation of national and world cultural heritage”.
Mark or celebrate?
Vladimir Kozhemyakin, “AIF”: Michael Miller, made the Hermitage for the coming 100th anniversary of the revolution? Because then, in October of 1917, the Winter Palace was at the epicenter of events.
Mikhail Piotrovsky: the October revolution — one of the greatest events of our history. Bad, good, but it is largely determined all other events of the twentieth century — wars, fight red and white, right and left, and the prosperity of Europe. Even German fascism was born as a response to the Russian revolution. There are many questions in which it is necessary to understand to step aside. What we are doing.
It is not so easy to tell in the Museum of the revolution — he is not about the war of 1812, when placed in the halls of uniforms, swords, breastplates, and all the success is assured. Especially in 1917, all happened right here in these walls. In thematic exhibitions scattered around the Palace, we tried to recreate a General picture of the wild chaos that was going on here.
For example, we all know about the storming of the Winter, but few know that the main rooms of the Palace at this time has turned into hospitals. Then moved the provisional government, it became the seat of numerous Commission — seething human whirlpool, people came and went, the doors were not closed, and, in fact, in coming here to arrest somebody, there was no problem….
— What kind of exhibitions it?
Their until four. For example, the exhibition “From the Serving pantries. The decoration of the Russian Imperial table XVIII — early XX century” — a collection of luxurious Russian Imperial porcelain dinnerware from more than 1,200 objects intended for ceremonial decoration of the “top tables” during receptions in the Imperial residences and Grand-Ducal palaces.
Very impressive, a solo exhibition by German artist Anselm Kiefer — his dedication to the poet Velimir Khlebnikov, who predicted the revolution. Scenery installation Kiefer — “the gloomy German genius” and the artist No. 1 in the world today, I associate with strings Mayakovsky “was Blowing, as always, the October winds as blow under capitalism…” gloomy Petersburg weather and the threat of war.
The exhibition “1917. The Romanovs and the revolution. The end of the Empire” humanly talks about the art of the early XX century, the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, the End of Empire” humanly talks about the art of the early XX century, the part of the Russian Empire in the First world war and last years of the life of the Imperial family that the photographs and video, painting and applied art, historical documents and weapons.
The exhibition “1917. The Romanovs and the revolution. The end of the Empire” in the Amsterdam Hermitage
And the exhibition “Eisenstein. October in Winter” reflects the work of Sergei Eisenstein, who created the canonical image of October, was the leader of a parallel revolution in the Soviet and world cinema and was created out of the then reality of a beautiful fairy-tail.
In fact, he lied to the viewer, but all of the events of 1917, in fact, was such a huge ambitious staging: the Bolsheviks had read books about the French revolution and decided that in Russia everything should be exactly the same. That is, if the king abdicated, must be arrested and tried for crimes and not just take and let go — as, incidentally, could be done. Once in Paris stormed the Palace of the French kings of the Tuileries and the Louvre, so we need to storm the Winter Palace. They did a myth — here and now. This reflected Eisenstein in his films.
— In your opinion, need to celebrate or mark this date — the anniversary of the October revolution?
— Better note. When begins to celebrate some historical event, then it is often overlooked, and that, in fact, celebrated.
You just have to make a pause in your daily routine. It’s like Sunday for Christians, Friday is sacred for Muslims or Sabbath of the Jews — meaning not the day of rest, but also time when to stop in daily running, to pray and to think about his life. The revolution part of our history, and it must, without fuss, to remember. The more that people around the world think hard about what we had created in the seventeenth year.
— What explains the incredible interest in history, which appeared in Russia in recent years?
— That in itself is good. History should know. Especially now, when there are so many different interpretations. People began to wonder — what is it like, really? That’s why it need a historical exhibition: the Museum where the things are genuine, not particularly made up. All clear — see, learn, read on.
But the current interest in history already, we can say, is off the charts. It is too unhealthy and intemperate.
Because everyone thinks that he knows history inside and out. Everyone is trying to shout down each other throat and to play the previous battle. This war memory, which overshadow us the truth. There is a feeling that history is not a science but a field for battles in the present and the future.
For example, the war of 1812 can be a cause for reflection about the contradictions of the era, and propaganda on the subject: what the bastards were French, and we, on the contrary, the characters. Depends on what goal to set for ourselves. The Museum takes a genuine subject and tries to make it into the dialogue of cultures. It’s completely different.
— They say that Russia — a country with an unpredictable past. Why do we have all the time maintained the war of memory — unlike other countries? Why can’t we live in that sense?
— Probably, we are those people too — I can’t calm down. Russia is a very young country, and such state and public system boil, wasting fresh forces. In the same way as, for example, Islam is a young religion. In fact, everywhere in the world there is war memory.
Let’s see what gave the French, when it was the anniversary of their revolution — turned her upside the head, doused with mud, why not just imagine! Now in the UK starts Brakcet, Wake up Ireland and Scotland, revive old grievances, and soon there is also boiling passion… But, it never turns into a tantrum: Europeans, unlike us, at the right time can stop.
— Europe called “continent of the sacred stones.” Its inhabitants relate to it with awe. Why are we their sacred stones that gather, scatter, dragged from place to place and from them constructed the temple, the mausoleum, the scaffold?
— Roerich said, “From ancient wonderful stones fold stages to come.” We are here not particularly different from Europe, just young, don’t really know what to do with their past is to destroy the memory of it, rebuild or leave as is. Cruel historic battle took place in our relatively recent. Here we roam with their stones, thinking, where would accommodate them. Although from how we treat history, our future depends.
This is realized in the Hermitage. We are the guardians, not the owners, and have no right to dispose its heritage as you want — because it doesn’t belong to us, and are generally very conditional. We got it, he admired the original — and passed on to descendants.
But man is weak, and sometimes wants to prove himself: and here, I can then dispose of — for example, to destroy all the churches, and then to build again. Or revenge: to destroy what has created the rich. Hatred someone falls on historical monuments, buildings, paintings, sculpture or, say, the Palace porcelain sets, which were all broken during the French revolution.
When you’re too emotional, you lose respect for the history. Although the story is time, which flows from infinity to infinity, and we are only a small piece in the gap. Therefore, we must honor their past, as well as parents, and grandparents. And not as we do — like no one read, and God is with him.
Respect for history is brought up in museums, but in particular, and through the conflict — because we see among our visitors a whole category of different people who do not consider the Museum as a sacred place and assume that there you can specify to scream, to break something… But people should know their place: it is only a grain of sand, and it is not necessary to imagine himself great Creator of history.
Punish the monuments!
— The question of Syrian Palmyra: why terrorists kill not only people, but also ancient monuments? This is just barbarism, stemming from ignorance? Or attempting to drag the world back to the middle Ages?
— No, this modern process of the XXI century — the same struggle with memory. Palmyra for Islamic fanatics they’re idols, so, we must remember the commandment “do Not make yourself an idol”, which Islam sometimes adheres quite firmly and immersed in absolute monotheism, “Take the idols dangerous as the temptation. Here are ancient sculpture, which you can take for gods, so it is better to destroy…”.
But, destroying Palmyra, fanatics prove their weakness coming from inferiority complex — as only the weak can believe that someone can “believe in gods” and begin to worship all these prehistoric figures.
In addition, Palmyra is a pre-Islamic history of the Arabs — the Syrians, Iraqis and other peoples. The story that they are proud of and which thereby prevents a radical currents of religion… Hence the reaction of LIH: “Let’s tear down that there was nothing to remember.” Everything just seems new, but in the past you can find plenty of such examples — for example, Christians have also destroyed ancient monuments.
Great pride of an implacable fight, and cruelly to punish the destruction of cultural monuments is to fight for Palmyra, ancient city. Yes, there are people dying — but it’s a fair war when you’re protecting the historical memory of mankind. There is not only Palmyra, but also many other Christian values in the same Syria, e.g. in Aleppo, or in Northern Iraq or in Afghanistan. We must protect them, as well as during the Second world war, we defended not only people but also monuments of Leningrad.
One thing is clear: this is not barbarism, not the middle Ages, but the PR-technologies of the XXI century in the hands of skilled professionals. And suicidal, recruited by the Islamists, too, originate from the death cult that originated in modern civilization. They are just another side of the phenomenon of child suicide that occurred recently.
“Thanks to the” Internet and TV in the world has transformed, and someone had disappeared altogether real fear of death — even to the detriment of the survival instinct. Thousands of people have ceased to understand clearly what death is — and someone else’s, and their own. They think that it’s not real fun, like that TV show or computer game.
“The Museum must not become a farce”.
— How do you feel about “virtual” exhibitions of painting, where for a hefty price for a ticket to the visitors instead of the real patterns offer a projection on the wall? Whether you want museums that “animated art”?
— There’s nothing — to a particular exhibition it is possible to see a copy, reproduction, and projection art. We have learned to make very exact copies, which in the opinion of the uninitiated, indistinguishable from the original. However, the Museum still needs to exhibit the originals.
In fact, it is a question of psychology: for example, if the picture is signed “Leonardo”, all look and admire: “Brilliant! What a beauty!”. And write that this is another author, and all — and, like, stuff, move on. And where, in this case, the real meaning of art?
— It is clear that should be the pillars that guarantee the permanence in this world. But the world is changing, should change and Museum. How do you see the future of the Hermitage?
The Museum preserves not only historical memory but also of her things. So it should not change drastically — for example, go to virtual reality or to become a farce, a place for entertainment. Its mission is the link between the past and the future, and that’s enough without any extraneous games.
Once the first Museum built in Alexandria before our era, called the “Museion” — that is, the temple of the Muses, their refuge. It was a religious, research, educational and cultural centre with its library, which, incidentally, was also on the state. Scientists who become employees of the Museion, studied natural philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, geography, medicine, music theory, linguistics, and other Sciences. There was gathered the widest collection of everything you can find in the world, and people were trying to put together this picture of the universe.
In recent years, museums around the world began to absorb many different music and arts — theatre, music, and performance, and even elements of policy — for the perception of visitors of different levels. Museums are becoming more and more synthetic and, of course, will thrive in the future. As long as their not destroyed, as Palmyra.