Manifesta 10: Iron Arch / Souvenir
Watch Iron Arch on YouTube:
Public sculpture Souvenir and video Iron Arch were a special commission for the 10th edition of Manifesta Biennial that took place in the city of St Petersburg in Russia in 2014. The work was presented as part of the programme of art in public space curated by Joanna Warsza. The work was a reaction to the annexation of Crimea in spring 2014 and Russia’s military aggression in the territories of Ukraine.
Norman’s artistic intervention addressed Russian government’s fear that revolutionary sentiments could spread from the neighbouring country to the main squares of Russian cities and shake the ruling regime. During Euromaidan protests that started in late November 2013 in Kyiv the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovych has been toppled.
Souvenir is a sculptural intervention, a metal scaffolding of a Christmas tree that Norman erected in mid-July 2014 on the Palace Square in St Petersburg. The sculpture is referring to the metal structure of a Christmas tree that was erected by the Kiev city government on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in November 2013. As the revolutionary events unrolled on Maidan, the tree was taken over by the protesters and was decorated with flags and political posters. Eventually the Christmas tree (Yelinka in Ukrainian) became the symbol of the revolution.
Video Iron Arch is a collaboration with Alevtina Kakhidze, a performance artist and Euromaidan activist from Kyiv. The video shows a performative tour that makes use of the topographical similarities between Maidan and Palace Square and it symbolically lays the phycological image of revolutionary Kyiv over St Petersburg. While the Russian government tries to preserve the image of Palace Square as the symbol of imperial greatness, the artwork suggests the square as a site of memory of public protests and revolutions that have changed the course of Russian history.