Danya Pirogov, a participant of the Vyksa Artist-In-Residence programme, used to work in architecture before he began his career as an artist. It might be the reason why he aims to work with a specific landscape, the architectural and social context that he studies through the new optics. He redifferentiates images and artefacts he finds, describes, and categorises them in search of a new make-believe meaning that becomes an ideal match to his author’s mythology.
Pirogov’s interest in the archaeological toolkit is not surprising. Firstly, he is attracted by the artefact’s tangibility and authenticity, even if he, together with the other participants of the performance, is 'faking' it by burying his creations into the ground, fantasising about the archaeologists of the future and thus communicating with them and confusing them.
Secondly, visual art and archaeology are both conceptual sciences. Even though archaeology relies on the excavated objects and their time and space connection with historical records, it is equally dependent on the image that an archaeologist is driven by, their ambitions and belief in the suggested hypothesis. A layman, in their turn, has no reliable means of verifying the authenticity of the artefact, but if they are offered some proof of their belief and a captivating story about what exactly has been found, it will be enough to convince them.
Unlike archaeologists, Pirogov does not limit himself by the need to back up his idea with solid scientifically valid resources. Disregarding precise archaeological tools, he looks at the world around him unreservedly and discovers some architectural and landscape consistencies that he calls 'rules' (but I believe 'symptoms' is a better word). The artist randomly connects them with the available resources, such as street findings, museum artefacts, and different people’s stories.
For example, by studying Vyksa’s small architectural structures in detail, Danya Pirogov can find inspiration in triangular gable roofs or cornices above wooden gates. In these forms he sees visual reference to the decorations of the Muroma tribe that depicted, as explained by the town’s museum, a paw of a duck, a bird sacred to the Muroma people.
The manipulation of forms, rituals, unevenness of surfaces, and other 'symptoms' of Vyksa’s urban environment is just a game. But owing to this game, the artist can create a new space where the linearity of time is questioned, the idea of the sequence of events is violated, and usual logical connections are destroyed.
It transpires that Pirogov aims to plunge us into chaos. Modern artefacts turn out to be not an echo of the distant past but the key to understanding the time continuum, filled with the same images and meanings that have always been and will always be here. From this standpoint, we are no longer just remnants preserved in the upper layer of the archaeological layer cake that future generations will dig out first, but find ourselves on equal grounds with our ancestors and descendants, a link in the chain and a part of extensive joint modern history. Therefore, it might be that Pirogov does not seek to confuse us, but on the contrary, tries to break us free and absolve us from the responsibility for the orderliness of our perception. The artist wishes us to join him in reassembling our world through the prism of freedom and sensuality, and feeling our inextricable link to our past and future.