Alina Izmailova (b. 1992, Ufa)
I received my Master’s degree from the Faculty of Geology of Bashkir State University and worked at the Academy of Sciences. I am into travel photography which stimulated my move from Ufa to Moscow. Currently I collaborate with various contemporary art exhibition venues as a manager, lecturer, and artist.

March 15, 2019

Today I’m going to do my third shift, which starts at 16:30. It is a public talk with Zhilyaev, and I would like to extract my thoughts over the first couple of days before they are absorbed by the power of and impression from the meeting and work with such a monstrous figure on the same project.

First day, morning shift, March 8.

It was great to return to Garage to work again. A bit gray-ish outside, but it doesn’t affect my mood at all. I remember two very nice girls who worked together with me. We did well with them supporting each other. Not a bad compatibility, although none of us went beyond working matters and some general interest. The first visitors began entering the space very cautiously, but I saw that those sleepy people were not ready to discuss anything enthusiastically, even over a cup of tea. All of them sort of paved their way into the Museum. One of the mediators came up to a female visitor, smiling, but had to retire quite quickly, since this is the first thing a mediator should sense very well—the mood of the visitor who enters our space. It was wrong to superimpose the wish to demonstrate her communication skills so openly. But it turned out to be okay, because right afterwards came a couple who were looking for some quick and easy fun. It’s not so bad then that they didn’t proceed to the mug projects.

I was watching how that same girl, after carefully examining the part with the drawings and folders, went up to the table and started looking at the cups, modestly, not daring to examine them on her own. So, I decided to come up to her, and for a start, I simply encouraged her to look at the mugs together and explain her some details about the installation. Her first phrase and reaction was to close in herself, but then she agreed. The same happened to my invitation to have some tea. We talked for a long time, she is an artist and feminist activist. Even though our cups were about the concept of the “ladder”, of course we discussed a lot of stuff, including, and this is what I really liked, her viewpoint on the importance of the subject of migration that we touched upon. She has an active civil position and even does things that help to materialize these legal needs. We talked about the possibility of affecting the Museum’s work, and she mentioned the ticket prices… We remembered the early stages of the Soviet Union marked by serious intentions and real steps towards equality, the notable performance of female artists, and how it all soon dispersed.

Generally, we were lucky due to the coincidence of the date, her interests and the topic suggested by the mug, which instigated, in this or another way, a talk around the possibility of being independent and responsible for one’s own life and the wish to do so which come people have, while others don’t. She was heading to one of the events taking place that night, so we said goodbye after adding each other on Facebook. There were more activities on that day, more tea-drinking, but it wasn’t as important.

March 10, evening.

Immediately after I came, I was asked to wash the mugs. Ok. But of course, I had a program full of impressions on that day. The very first happened at the Ladder Café installation. A man came up to me, slightly embarrassed and lost, as if not only the museum space was new to him, a place he never visited before, but also, perhaps, the life itself… He said he wasn’t against having some tea, although he usually drinks expensive tea which he orders. He was interested in communication however, so we decided to choose the mugs and sit with them, with a good reason for a conversation. He had seen our museum before from afar, but this was the first time he decided to go in. He rarely goes to museums, the last time he went to an ethnographic museum (a reconstruction of a village) in Bulgaria, primarily because he was on an excursion tour there, and usually, he prefers walking around the city on his own instead. It came out to be that his passion for natural walks derives from the vegan philosophy, lifestyle and… his passion for walking barefoot whenever he is. So, as we burst into a dialogue, I directed him from time to time back to the topic of museology and tolerance, and then he asked, slightly awkwardly and with a timid smile, whether he could take off his shoes, because his feet were wet. I was a bit embarrassed too but full of museum liberalism. In fact, it’s not a crime. And he continued to smile all the time. Said he had already taken them off and would like to observe the exposition and come upstairs to the second floor. I let him walk around the space on his own, inviting him to come back afterwards and share his impressions of the shows.

After a while, when I am already busy with another visitor, I see him. He says he wasn’t allowed to go upstairs without a ticket.

On the same evening I had the chance to get acquainted with the young Ermé (Эрме). He is half Turkish. Very curly and kind. He was accompanied by equally small, although not curly girls. We lay covered by the ribbons and talked about their colorfulness, and that it was as if a from the colorful skies poured down upon us from the colored skies. Then we ran toward the tower and the entire carousel of fun. The girls soon fell behind and disappeared. I went up to Linda’s wardrobe, to play masks with Ermé and write a message in Turkish on the ribbon. And make an amulet in the form of a giraffe. So little time we had to spend together! His mom came. He asked when I’m going to work next time, and whether we could see each other again later that day…

I looked around. I was alone: everything was living and moving in the green of this place.

March 15

Erme came with his mother and sister right to the opening time. The most important thing, he said, is that there exists zone 25 in human brain which is responsible for controlling bad mood, and if this function is broken, the person will always feel depressed. But the conversation originally began with the question if anyone could become an artist. He said yes, but only provided that the person has inspiration. And inspiration is born from a special human feeling, it is something “special”, but “still light-colored”. He judges by himself. Btw, the info about zone 25 is taken from the Smeshariki cartoon.

Later, even his dad came to the Museum. The adults didn’t like the show though.

Towards the end of the day, I met a girl of Asian descent who was very touched by the subject of migration we raise. Especially by what the young generation of migrants who have grown in labor environment has become. She slightly critiqued them. She would like to see a continuation of the project and looked forward to the meeting of Jitlina and Tereshkina with real CIS representatives at Garage. A few young guys joined our conversation. And by what they said I recognized in one of them a visitor who I had a two-hour long discussion with at Elena Nikonole’s artist talk last summer at Garage, when he explained with ease all of the key principles of her work with neural networks. Back then he was still a high school graduate. He said it was his second time at Pavel Pepperstein’s show now, and that he would come and check the Ladder as well. And he did!

We discussed that, in accordance with physical laws, when doing anything, including the making of art, substance makes a transition from one condition to a different one, leading to the release of heat, the expansion of the universe and, ultimately, to its death.

Part 4

I’ve had my fourth shift today.

1. A man came who said that it’s his third time in a contemporary art museum. Following the second, unsuccessful, attempt he thought there still might be some good examples. He accidentally saw a program featuring Gutov and Belov which inspired him to go to Garage. Dmitry Gutov caught his attention so much that he watched a lot of other stuff with him, including the lecture Contemporary Art in 90 Minutes. And it forever changed his attitude to contemporary art. He was puzzled with what he saw at our project. BUT! He accepted it as an opportunity for reflection instead of refusing to comprehend.

2. It turns out that so far, I’ve only met visitors with a positive reaction toward the project of Jitlina and Tereshkina. BUT there is a different reaction too. Other mediators told me that.

3. I’ve got the contact of a teacher based in Leipzig who was really interested in the work by Jitlina and Tereshkina, as she is currently writing an academic paper dedicated to comics. She was really delighted about getting in touch with them.