Bubble Opera is a series of six performative acts implemented by the Rabota on the territory of ZKM/HfG in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2017-2018 as an institutional intervention.
Bubble Opera archive, HDD, 2018
An impenetrable wall of institutionality has the passages inside: “institutions are people.” Axel Heil figured it out as a response to the idea of using the Karlsruhe municipal cultural system as an artistic medium. “Ok, let us see,”: thought Marika and Anton, and soon a plan of intervention in the ZKM museum ripened. Have taken a detailed instruction from friend Joachim who drew a diagram that outlined the ways of financing art projects and a scheme of the cultural department officials distributing money for art projects, M&A reckoned with his advice, and the diagram became the subject of a picture that Marika embroidered on a towel; the towel was given by Joachim when artists first arrived in Karlsruhe.
July Dawns, embroidery on a towel , 2017
They flew to Germany from Colombo with 40 euros in a pocket to do a month-long exhibition at Joachim’s gallery. M&A did not count on receiving any money from it and were going to live, as usual, God only knows how: “will see and figure it out by the way.” Special thanks must go to Joachim; M&A dedicated the painting “Joachim Hirling, the Duke of Karlsruhe” to his hospitality. Eventually, Joachim found them a job to solder the lamps in ZKM for the installation by Michael Bielicky. “A huge sum of money,” but that is not the point; what is crucial that artists opened what ZKM and the HfG school represent from the inside. Then Anton and Marika determined this place for invasion, that they would call later on the institutional rave.
However, M&A had to solve several points for a start — their official status at the institution and the visa. The HfG School is where Boris Groys taught, where Sloterdijk was the rector; genetically and administratively, it connects with the ZKM Museum. It locates in the same building; the school may be easily mistaken for one of the museum’s departments. Artists caught up with Professor Bielicky in the ZKM hall, showed him the schemes, and asked him help for to get guest students’ status (such a hybrid position without powers and rights, but with the keys to the building). The second problem was the visa, which did not allow M&A to stay in Germany for more than 90 days. They met the challenge with the help of a trip to Andorra (who knows, will understand), and, after that, it was possible to remain semi-legally in Germany until the visa would expire.
Bubble Opera scheme, blueprint, 2017-2018
In short: the artistic idea was to mark up one year using a formal proportional principle adopted from Helmholtz’s wave theory and hold performative events with arbitrary content on key dates. Artists titled it Bubble Opera: opera as a work that is being inflated by someone or “inflates something” (inflate (надувать) in Russian has a shade of swindle). The series’s main event should conclude like this: M&A wanted to hang by crane a huge sounding pile of rubbish and hire 100 refugees living in a camp in a forest nearby to play on sticks with strings.
Poverty and Glory, (music) video, 2018
The first event occurred in November 2017. Before that, Anton Kryvulia and Marika Krasina went to Siegfried Zielinski (he was the rector) with a broad blueprint of different time charts. Zielinski liked it and blessed M&A to pin the schemes of events in the foyer and get access to the large hall, equipment, and assistance from the institution’s staff. HfG produced some posters, flyers, banners on the website, and more. Artists built a hybrid installation in the hall, ironically reflecting what was happening in the ZKM from the point of view of who Anton and Marika were at that time — real illegals and hobos: on one side of a specially erected wall, they created an empty, abandoned conference space with an incomprehensible “educational” video, a showcase with wooden objects named “Fids” and lone tribune with a microphone. All this was supposed to be drowned in cognitive sfumato and puzzled the passing by museum visitors.
Tools of Disclosure, performative installation, 2017
On the other side of the wall, artists arranged the typical backstage with a refrigerator, kitchen, sofa, and TV-set. The meeting with the public took place directly on that backstage in an almost cozy home atmosphere. The event was successful. It allowed M&A to declare themselves there and get acquainted with some professors and technical workers (which is sometimes essential). Need to add that Marika and Anton lived right in this colossal building: setting up a tent on one of the distant flights of stairs at night, went to wash in a shared shower in the morning, ate at museum party subs, collected bottles over there, and cooked on a pocket gas stove.
In addition to major performative events, M&A also have carried out some small interventions. Taking advantage of the familiarity with the technical staff, they got their hands on a large speaker on the stand. Artists hid it in the corridor from one wing of the ZKM to another and left it there for two weeks to inform visitors every fifteen minutes, “We use your ears and your eyes now.”
Six Stones Corrida, performative installation, 2017
The second significant action of the Opera — Corrida occurred during an Open House Day at the ZKM, which opened up a mass audience’s prospect. M&A hung in the large hall all personal belongings tied together on the strings and connected the strings to a specially developed program. The strings’ vibrations influenced the generation of sound from an array of a sound library that Anton and Marika have collected traveling for many years. The whole system was driven by a performative practice during which artists moved on wheels, interacting with strings, striking it with absurd objects: a paper hammer, a thin hose, a chair, an oar, a small stick, and so on. The Corrida lasted throughout the day with two breaks while artists repaired the broken suspended structures. It turned out to be a mocking clownery on the theme of the corporate-committed “technological” art, officially professed by ZKM. On that day, M&A had an unprecedented spectator success, unrivaled before and so far.
The next significant actualization of the opera took place on the territory of the Open Codes exhibition. In some inexplicable way, Marika and Anton managed to incorporate participation into its program of events. It was a more complex swindle — till the very beginning of the “Conference dedicated to the Cucumber of Time,” M&A had to bluff.
Six Stones objects, performative installation, 2018
When artists started the conference in an empty auditorium, no one had a way back. The conference’s core was an ironic report on the fictional Nikolay Shabarshov, “the unknown pearl of Russian cosmism,” — complete nonsense, accompanied by images of empty babbles and explosions from comics. The highlight of the “abandoned conference” was the streaming from the Moscow region town of Elektrostal, with the employment of older women choir “Optimist” and art critic Egor Sofronov, who also made a report, which, however, due to the peculiarities of the club’s interior in Elektrostal and the camera work, has taken the form of strangeness and ambiguity. The event was extremely successful but “too much” in many senses: therefore, the institutional invulnerability of M&A were undermined. Probably, in such cases, the balance should be kept on the edge so that no one would guess for sure; as long as there is no clarity, the game might continue in the space of uncertainty.
Cucumber of Time, abandoned conference, 2018
Then was a meeting with Peter Weibel, the ZKM director, where Marika Krasina and Anton Kryvulia unfolded a scene of an orchestra of 100 refugees playing on sticks in the ZKM foyer in front of a party sub. The politically incorrect idea (from both sides) was clearly out of sync with the museum’s trustees’ board (the technology and energy corporations that fund the ZKM). He rejected this offer, and M&A immediately felt bored; they left for Turkey, Greece, and Italy to continue working in a drift format. The Zone of Nonknowledge has begun. The materials of the Opera M&A had buried in a field near Moscow.”
© Marika Krasina & Anton Kryvulia, 2014-2021