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Sekretiki No. 18. Steam therapy sessions

One of the basic, though high-maintenance, systems of self-support in the unofficial art environment was being a couple. Among the conceptualists, to work in such a tandem was often perceived as an opportunity to fuse art and life, to nullify the distinction between the artwork and the author. Artists Rimma and Valeriy Gerlovin, who have worked collaboratively since 1972, describe their almost five-decades-long partnership as follows: “Every artist is an artwork and we, working both together and separately while remaining true to ourselves, were simultaneously each other.”

In the mid-1970s, with no opportunity to exhibit or produce large-scale installations, the Gerlovins found a way to keep their imagination under the control of productiveness. They self-published 40 small booklets, each with laconic building instructions for a staged environment of pre-programmed experience. The potential installations were seen by the artists as arranged settings for psychoanalytic exercises. Some of them can even serve as experimental couples therapy sessions, for example the Taboo environment, with its two interconnected cabins.

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