The permutation field
With Olga Shirokostup
ZIL Cultural Center, Moscow, Russia
The space of the Cultural Palace, seemingly frozen, turns out to be a field where phenomena, despite the most powerful transformations of the 20th century, have not completely disappeared and are not firmly fixed, they manifest themselves on a case-by-case basis, triggering a process of barely perceptible permutations.

The installation consists of two parts. The first one, a video work by Aleksey Shchigalev, is part of a cycle in which the artist photographs and videotapes the empty spaces of Soviet institutions, exposing the new furniture that is now being used in them. Often the institutions themselves have changed: their purpose and structure have been revised, but they have not disappeared completely. The artist makes various combinations of furniture, as if to simulate situations: the arrangement of objects could be preparations for certain types of events. But the events for which the artist "prepares" the spaces will not happen. The two compositions in the Winter Garden of the Culture Center and on the second floor remind one of the familiar shots from "The Blue Fire" or the film "The Magicians" (by the way, this film was filmed at the ZIL Culture Center), instantly empty, devoid of all their characters. These spaces seem to invite us to continue the interrupted dialogue about the artifacts and spaces of the Soviet project in contemporary Russian reality.

Olga Shirokostup investigates which voices live in the palace, and why they have not ceased to be present despite the many changes that have taken place in the palace over the 80 years or more of its existence. The amateur choir is almost the same age as the Palace of Culture, it appeared in 1939, and this year it celebrates its anniversary. For all these years the choir has never stopped its work. The artist traces the history of one song, the oldest remaining in the choir's repertoire of Russian songs that are periodically sung, but which seem to be in anabiosis. Most of the songs in the repertoire have changed as eras and choir leaders have changed. As the repertoire was "cut," so the vocalists/the girls joined and disappeared, adding to the overall "body" of the choir and "falling away" from it. The artist is interested in how the song has managed to "survive," albeit in such a shimmering and unstable status, in the repertoire to this day. She asked the chorus singers to specially learn it and perform it. In choral performance, it is important to hear each other, and a shared recording is always made. But in the artist's project, the vocalists first perform the song individually. She "glues" the individual tracks together, exposing this impossibility of finding a common voice from the individual parts. Then the song sounds "proper," the vocalists perform it all together, the individual voices merging back into a single stream. The moment of transition from split to merge, from individual to common, in the noisy, filled with voices of guests of AC hall becomes (not so obvious) not noticeable. It is blurred, forcing us to listen sharper and try to feel that elusive thing that binds the unity of the chorus, the bodies, and their lively voices.