It’s July 2, 2015, report from Saint Petersburg. The last must have been from Riga, let’s see what happened in between. From Warsaw to Vilnius, from there to Riga. After Riga, we went to Tallinn. Tallinn held a surprise of all three countries, because it is very western oriented, it seems to be quite wealthy. They have the Euro. It was a fantastic evening, a very positive atmosphere, people were smiling. This was quite different in Riga, people were looking grumpy and smiled only little.
In Tallinn, we found a puddle in contrast to the other impressions, a puddle in a socially tilting area, in a socially unsteady environment. But there was a puddle in the concrete from which we drew the water. That’s a great picture because of the water, we will look into that, it will most certainly deliver wonderful findings.
After that, we faced the fear of the Russian border. The border, what papers are the right ones, whom did we consult? “Formel D”, who supervise us on this journey, helped us with some problems concerning how to formulate these things that we needed in order to pass the border. We engaged notaries to prove that we truly did not steal the Toyotas, but that we were allowed to drive them. All of these problems resolved, because we accidently ended up in Belarus on our way to Vilnius. It was not that easy to resolve though. Anna, who is the only one of us speaking Russian, resolved all our problems with many smiles and we were allowed to leave Belarus. It took us two, three hours of the night, lots of nervousness, and lots of palpitation. The palpitation accompanied us when we left Tallinn behind and encountered an adventurous border consisting of weird and ragtag houses standing absurdly in a row like the ones in the pictures by Gianluca and Anatole. We had to sit a lot there, to do our time. Then it was finally our turn, we were called. Before that, we had salmon in a shabby shed, but the salmon tasted like the one you are served in a fancy restaurant. We ate there and drank warm beer.
We came to the border, everything took about two, three hours. We hindered many others that had to swerve, they wanted to cross the border as well. Finally, we achieved our goal to cross the border with some obstacles and entered Russian soil on our way to Saint Petersburg at night. There are still white nights, it was a beautiful drive, like we were wrapped in cotton wool. At some point we finally arrived at our hotel that accommodated about 5,000 people of which 4,000 were Chinese, just a little preview to what awaits us in China, where the journey will lead us.
In this city-like house, in this sort of living factory, we spent our first night. Many insects attacked us from the window which was repeated at 10 a.m. when a demonstrative flight event took place. This seems to be a daily event introduced by Putin to represent his power to the tourists. In German, this is called saber-rattling. A group of airplanes, probably very expensive ones, flew over the city of Saint Petersburg, made a lot of noise just as if a biker gang were flying above the city instead of sticking to the road.
This was our first impression of the hotel which originated in the Stalin era and which is now overcrowded by Chinese people. We took some great pictures with which we fled to another hotel near the Russian Museum where I am now sitting and recording these lines.
Here we are, looking out the window, enjoying the most beautiful view in one of the most beautiful cities of the world. I would put them in this order: Venice, Saint Petersburg, New York. All three cities at the seaside and all three cities somehow eschatologically blessed by time. We know that of Venice, threatened, we know that of Saint Petersburg, threatened, and we know that of New York, at least threatened since 9/11, so that Americans have realized that they don’t rule the world, but the world is only borrowed which is not easily made clear to Americans. Chinese people know that much better, because they understand to think in the long term.
We visited Sascha Borowski at State Russian Museum in the meantime. The car which I drive stood near the car that was put on a pedestal in 1994 instead of Lenin’s car, the Ford Mondeo turned into marble. The Marble Time of 1994 that stood there at the request of Putin who was second Mayor at that time. Now there is the monument again that Catherine the Great gave to her husband – by the way, she had him killed – as a gift. The murderer was her lover as we all know. And he is the one who got the marble palace, her husband, the dead one, got this monument which was now returned to its original spot.
Peter Ludwig turned around the corner in 1994 when he saw my car. Later, he talked to me about it, congratulated me that I managed to get there before him. He stayed there, I came back. Ludwig left, I am still here and that’s the image of Sascha that he made possible. Sascha Borowski, a colleague, playing in the same league as my friend Peter Weibel, as well a friend of mine. I’m meeting the same Sascha at lunch. There we got the press, himself is the press as we know. The press, he is one of the most influential art critics of Russia. He is also one of my oldest friends and with him I am about to talk about how we can exhibit Action Blue next year in the Russian Museum again with the pictures that we are editing at the moment. Of course, the pictures and the biokinetic depictions of the water from rivers and puddles from Paris to Beijing.
That’s what we are doing at lunch today. Oleg Tepsov will come as well for sure. He is one of the influential presidents of the Academy of Arts, one of the most influential people here, but also one of those who were actively participating back when I tore apart the war on the palace square in front of the hermitage in 1994, the war that will unfortunately never end as we see now. Shortly after this event in 1994, the war in the Chechen Republic erupted. But I am in good spirits that we are now taking the same path. The path forward, tomorrow, to Moscow.
Thanks, let’s call it a day, that’s it.