Yuri Leiderman’s approach involves different stories and occurrences connected to his personal life experiences and obsessions, and transformed into a sophisticated system of visual signs and codes.
Kefir grains are colonies of special bacteria that look like whitish lumps with a variety of individual bizarre (fractal) forms. Culturing kefir grains in milk, the grains are capable of growing and giving life to their ‘breed’. In this sense they can be regarded as living beings and a good embodiment of Tsiolkovsky's (1) ‘radiant shells of mind,’ that should spread generation by generation and eventually fill the Universe (glass of milk).
Yuri Leiderman's project consisted of 3 stages. In the 1st and preliminary stage, the artist grew kefir grains in Moscow to ’train’ them. He then selected the ‘healthiest’ samples and named them according to special rules.
After the series of experiments and examinations, he selected around hundred of the most worthy specimens; these were taken on board of a Russian space programme training plane and released into zero gravity. Their behaviour (soaring, destruction, accumulation, etc.) was documented for a film that represents the 3rd stage.
The resulting story is representative of many ‘Russian cosmism’ operations, such as Fedorov's (2) "catalogization and preservation" and Tsiolkovsky's "cosmic selection". In this case, all this happens with small, indifferent white lumps - as a metaphor of that movement's grandeur and disaster.
The installation comprised texts on the wall, a video work and objects.
Yuri Leiderman (born 1963 in Odessa) is a writer and an artist whose practice has been closely related to Moscow Conceptualism. In 1987, along with Sergei Anufreev and Pavel Pepperstein, he founded the Medical Hermeneutics group, which he left in 1990. His work has been shown at prominent venues, the 1st Manifesta in Rotterdam in 1996, the 11th Sydney Biennial in 1998, or the 50th Venice Biennial in 2003, among many others. In 1999 he held his first solo presentation “Circles and Lumps” in Slovenia at Galerija Škuc in Ljubljana. Yuri Leiderman is currently participating in the 7 Sins. Ljubljana – Moscow Arteast exhibition at Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Ljubljana.
The exhibition has been made possible in collaboration with Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia and MOL – Cultural Department of the City of Ljubljana. Special thanks to The Arts Catalyst, Yona Fischer, Andrei Silvestrov and Roman Uranjek.
(1) Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857 – 1935) theorised many aspects of human space travel and rocket propulsion decades before others, and played an important role in the development of the Soviet and Russian space programs.
(2) Nikolai Federov (1829 – 1903) believed that humanity was part of a vast teleological history, which would eventually see mankind evolve into super-beings, at which stage every human who had ever lived would be physically reincarnated.
Film made in collaboration with Andre Silvestrov
Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium (Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol, V2, Leonardo
Olats, Multimedia Complex for Actual Arts)
Flight: MIR Campaign 2003