Colored pencil on paper, 70 × 3700 cm
Video of Stories 53-20 by Nikita Alexeev.
Video: Anastasia Soboleva
Courtesy Iragui Gallery, Moscow
Nikita Alexeev was always fascinated by the existential experience of his own life and his place in the world. The very shape of the scroll in his last large work, Stories 53–20, is a metaphor of life as a sequence of events unfolding in time and space. Scrolls are a recurrent image in Nikita Alexeev’s art. In 1986 he exhibited the emakimono (a Japanese type of scroll) A Brief History of Contemporary Art, or The Life and Death of the Black Square at the spontaneous exhibition Bittsa for Art. The scroll told the story in comic-book form of the journey of Malevich’s painting through the history of art and specific exhibitions.
Stories 53–20 is 37-meter-long scroll about the life of a snail that moves through landscapes which are at times unassuming, at times fantastic and surreal, accompanied by the occasional snippet of news: “1953. The death of Stalin,” “1957. The death of Francisco Franco,” “1996. Boris Yeltsin is elected for a second term;” “2020. COVID-19. Amendments to the Russian constitution...” The choice of a snail as protagonist is far from accidental. It is a very ordinary creature that does little during its lifetime, a small life form that slowly moves through life, barely leaving a trace. We might, however, consider this as a metaphor for Alexeev’s own story, as the dates on the sheets match the dates in his life.