Russian Artists Set up a Mock Amberology Lab inside a Tourist Agency in Larnaca, Cyprus

23.11.2018

-‘How are you?’
-‘I am on tour’

Today traveling seems to be the most natural free time activity. But mass tourism is a development of a not so distant past. It emerged after the Second World War and quickly became a striking symbol of post-war recovery when tourism was associated with economic growth. Flows of tourists have generated the worlds’ most popular destinations within the Mediterranean basin, Cyprus being among the most attractive touristic places.

The consequences of the liberation of travel followed soon. We are now living in the era of excess when further extensive tourist practices threat to cause serious environmental danger and social changes. Places of touristic attraction have become hostages of travel industry. The non-attached fluent superficial gaze of a tourist sweeps through landscapes and cities blurring their distinctive features and leaving them blank to compete against each other.

Installation view, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya

-‘What kind of society we might have, If a stone could act?’

‘Cyprus Amber’ is a neuroleptic stone that captures highly mobile bodies with a particular range of chemical composition. Mutated under the influence of frequent travel mobile bodies are no longer resistant to manipulation by Amber. Whether it bewitches individuals in the tourist agencies, souvenir stores, penetrates into consumer goods or disperses itself in the air and water the stone always finds its way inside recipient bodies and begins to construct their desires and aspirations. Touristic places and bodies are becoming containers not only for information (experience, memories, etc.) but mainly for the new intellectual substance called ‘Cyprus Amber’ which is an offspring of the generation of excess.

The imaginary stone ‘Cyprus Amber’ is made of materials collected by creators of the project on the beaches, caught in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea or gathered in other popular tourist spots of Cyprus. We walked at night armed with UV flashlights and collected all objects glowing in the UV-rays. We transformed what we found into a new ‘local attraction’. Naming it Amber we import an important symbol of another tourist place, the Baltic Sea Amber from Kaliningradskaya Oblast in Russia. Through this naming we want to emphasize the paradoxical mix of presence and absence, here and there, and to indicate that tourist attractions are increasingly manipulative, commodified and simulated.

‘Cyprus Amber’ is our reflection on a probable scenario of unconscious touristic consumption of places where an object acts as an agent of influence. Exploring the paradigm of touristic mentality, we are playing, on the one hand, with its rapacious fantasies, hopes and beliefs, and on the other hand, with its phobias, anxieties and fears.

Salvation came in the form of stone
Or at least that's what it felt like
(*)

(*) Salvation in Stone, song lyrics (2006) by System shock

text by Maria Stepkina and Ilina Chervonnaya

Part of the tour, new local attraction, sight No. 2, signboards, 2018, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya

Ilina Chervonnaya is an artist/ graduated from the UNIC Program for Contemporary Art Critics and Curators/ the Moscow Institute of Contemporary Art/ participated in the Exchange Program for artists at Goldsmiths University of London/ co-founder of Triangle Curatorial Studio/ organized several collaborative events and interventions/ the subject of her interest is the phenomenon of tourism as a self-perpetuating value and associated effects and syndromes/ winner of the 3d residency program (Gogova foundation) in Special Astrophysical Observatory at Nizhniy Arkhyz (2018), where she presented ‘The Pearl Path Route’ project, speculating on tourist attractions/ winner of the Brewhowse Art Prize in nomination “environment” (2016)/ lives and works in Moscow, Russia

Serj Tubash is an interdisciplinary artist/ graduated from Moscow State Institute of Radiotechnics/ the Moscow Institute of Contemporary Art/ British Higher School of Art and Design/ HSE Art and Design School/ participated in the Exchange Program for artists at Goldsmiths University of London/ the subject of interest of the artist is a city as a stratum of cultural, historical, visual and social layers, their nonlinearity, ambiguity and boundaries/ lives and works in Moscow, Russia

Selected exhibitions for both artists include Borderline Conditions at MERES space, Nicosia, CY (2017), Something has gone wrong at Solyanka VPA, Moscow, RU (2017); Between the lines at Grad Gallery, London, UK (2016); Rituals of sincerity at Mayakovsky’s Centre of Art and Music, Saint Petersburg, RU (2015); Horizons of Events, parallel program of the 6th Moscow Biennale, RU (2015)

The project is a part of the 3rd installation festival EFE (Larnaca Biennale parallel event) curated by Loucas Ioannou and Christina Michaelidis.

Acknowledgement

Artists express gratitude to curator Maria Stepkina for editing texts and her friendly assistance in preparation of the exhibition. Special thanks are given to ‘Ideal Way’ tourist agency, personally to the director and founder Darina Nikolina for her kind support. Many thanks are given to Paul Mira for helpful assistance in sound production and to Makariou Papadopoulos for professional advices.

The project consists of installation at the tourist agency and a guided tour to new local attractions.
The installation includes works by other authors:
• The Extraction of the Stone of Madness, digital reproduction of painting (around 1494) by Hieronymus Bosch
• (*)Salvation in Stone, lyrics (2006) by System Shock

General information about the discovery of a new type of amber in Cyprus, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Various Cyprus amber elixirs, essences, solvents, detergents, extracts, agents, etc. photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Installation view, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Video projection of a search method on a geographical map, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Tourist's statement, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Representational materials, show model No. 1, cyprus amber_local attraction at the tourist office, 2018, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Various Cyprus amber elixirs, essences, solvents, agents, etc. photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Ode to cyprus amber. Salvation in Stone, lyrics (2006) by System Shock (found on the Internet), photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Collector's work glove, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Installation view, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
The Extraction of the Stone of Madness, digital reproduction of painting (around 1494) by Hieronymus Bosch, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Representational materials, show model No. 2, cypriot office, 2018, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Promotional materials of various excursion offers on the agency's shopwindow. View from the office, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya
Part of the tour, new local attraction, sight No. 2, signboards, 2018, photo by Ilina Chervonnaya

Info
Ilina Chervonnaya & Serj Tubash: Cyprus Amber
Curated by Maria Stepkina
02 - 30 Nov 2018

Ideal Way tourist agency
Zinonos Kitieos & Zenonos Pierides, office 1
Larnaca, Cyprus
T +357 95789746
Mon - Fri 10:00 - 19:00
and by appointment with the artists
Contact via Facebook messenger:
Ilina Chervonnaya, Serj Tubash

✍ Text provided by the organisers

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