From the editors
CULTURE IN A "FOREIGN" SPACE: AN INTRODUCTION
TO GENIUS LOCI KALININGRAD AND KOENIGSBERG
KALININGRAD IN THE YEAR 2020 - A NOT QUITE FICTITIOUS CONVERSATION
DESTINATION - KALININGRAD
FROM KALININGRAD DICTIONARY
MAP OF THE CITY
FORMA URBIS. SYMBOLIC PARALLELS
IN OR OUT
THE RAILWAY STATION AND ENTRANCE TO THE CITY OF KALININGRAD
BINARY STATES OF "K" CITY
Eugeny Umansky, Karpenko-Karpenko
IN THE CENTER
Andrei Monastyrsky, Sabina Haensgen
EMPTY CENTER K.
FOLLOWING SILENT WORDS
FA+ (Ingrid Falk & Gustavo Aguerre)
THE MYTHICAL FOUNDATION OF KALININGRAD
PRETERITION: KNEIPHOF ISLAND
THE BRIDGES AND "THE PREGEL'S ODOR"
John Craig Freeman, Greg Ulmer
IMAGING KALININGRAD: THE SEVEN BRIGES OF KOENIGSBERG
FORGOTTEN KANT AND THE KANT-BRAND IN KOENIGSBERG
KANT'S BRIDES: A READYMADE PHOTOGRAPHIC CHRONOTOPE
THE CATHEDRAL AND KANT FOR EVERYONE, OR IS GOD FEARSOME WITHOUT MORAL
THE CASTLE OF SOVIETS
THE ROYAL CASTLE
A WHITE SEAGULL ABOVE THE CITY: THE SYMBOLS OF THE OLD NEW CITY
WRITING OF DREAMS
LIGHT UP DOM SOVETOV
THE HOUSE OF SOVIETS
THE MOST PROFOUND SECRET OF ONE KOENIGSBERG LAWYER: HOFFMANN
A LEGEND ABOUT FIVE LITTLE ULRICHEN AND FERRYMAN ANDRE
KOENIGSBERG-KALININGRAD. THE TASTE OF MARZIPAN
THE COUNTRY OF PENSIONERS - OR THE GERMANS
CONCRETE ELEMENTS OF KALININGRAD
THE UNDREAMED OF CITY
TOWN PLANNING MATHEMATICS
MOSKOVSKII PROSPECT & THE SHADOWS AROUND ALTSTADT
OUR TOWER Ivan Chechot
THE TOWER-REDAN "KRONPRINZ"
THE KRONPRINZ TOWER. Projects for the National Centre for Contemporary Arts by Students of the Institute for Theory and Design in Architecture (Braunschweig, Germany)
THE AMBER ROOM
BASTIONS IN DIAMONDS AND EMERALDS
THE HOUSE OF MACHINERY: THE RECONSTRACTION AND EXPLOITATION OF THE POPULATION
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
PLACE OF EXECUTION
TRACES OF A VIRTUAL HISTORY IN A VERY REAL CITY
CHRIST THE SAVIOR CATHEDRAL
LIFE AND EGGS (A sketch about trams)
A STROLL THROUGH THE CENTER
IN THE FLOW: FOUNTAIN SEASON
WILD WEST OF RUSSIA
ANIMALS IN KALININGRAD AND A MOSAIC
KOENIGSBERG'S SPIRITUAL HERITAGE IN TONS, ITEMS AND SACKS. From the history of lost and found cultural heritage
WE ALL ARE GOING TO BE THERE
MONUMENT TO 1200 GUARDSMEN IN KALININGRAD
MATTER AND SPIRIT
FRAGMENT OF A SYMPHONY FOR SLOW READING: IVANOV AND HIS SURROUNDINGS
ATTIC OF RECOGNITION
MAN AND WOMAN
THE SMALL SCULPTURE "GIRL"
ON THE STREET
Igor Isaev, Dmitrii Demidenko
THE FIRE HYDRANT
Kalle Brolin, Kristina Muntzing
THE WATERFALL HERACLES' BOLT
V.I.P. (Very Interesting Person)
NATASHA POTERYASHINA. Inteview
TO BE IN THE MOOD FOR PACKING
Dmitrii Bulatov, Pavel Savel'ev
ACEPHALUS: OPTICAL MODELS
LIGHT THE CRYSTALS OF KALININGRAD!
THE BRIDGE THAT THE "RUSSIANS COULDN'T PULL DOWN"
THE ROAD TO BERLIN: FROM EPIC TO BANAL. Interview with Valerii Bugrov
HOAR-STONES AND BOUNDARY SYMBOLS
MUSCOVITES ARE HANGING
BEFORE THE CITY
THE ROAD TO BERLIN: FROM EPIC TO BANAL
Interview with Valerii Bugrov
Elena Tsvetaeva / Kaliningrad, Russia
Valerii Bugrov is an artist, the author of landscape projects, and general director of the international building company ROSSBAN.
Elena Tsvetaeva (E.T.): As we are now working now on a city art-guide in which artists also take part, I have a question for, first of all, as a creative personality. How can Valerii Bugrov combine an artistic personality with a man who conducts business and not just any ordinary business but the building of such metaphysical things as roads?
Valerii Bugrov (V.B.): It's very difficult to answer this question with a single phrase that would summarize all these relationships. Let's try to make the situation completely clear. It's commonly accepted everywhere in the world that there are businesspeople, artists, engineers, ballet dancers - we can enumerate a lot of them. I've always considered such divisions to be naive and have never agreed with them, especially when these roles are performed very well. For some period of time everything seems to be very easy, but later when one is asked: "What are you?" - He/she answers "I'm an artist", but nobody knows what that means, if it is a craft or a vocation. A person who considers himself or herself to be a contemporary artist will always say that it isn't a craft but vocation. That's why a question arises "How can a person turn from one profession to other?" If we look at a given personality in society in light of vital functions, passions and outbursts, then nothing will prevent a businessperson from becoming an artist, or a businessperson from becoming a ballet dancer and so on. The question is not about social position but about state of mind. Creative work for me is not so much about the expression of our own psychological and intellectual positions as about the tension of creative activity, its orgiastic nature - which is expressed not only by means of a brush. It can be any discovery - when you change something in the environment, in the world, in relationships. Creative work exists in all aspects of life. To be an artistic person, to declare oneself such a person, it is enough to treat your acts from this viewpoint. So, proceeding with a definite answer for the question, I can say that there are no barriers between the creative work of an artist and the productive activity of road building in the East Prussian landscape or the construction of the Egyptian pyramids in Giza. One thing is clear: if a person proves him or herself to be a creator, then he or she will never lose God's gift.
E.T.: Why roads? Why not, for example, banking?
V.B.: It's all due to the ambitions that led me to Europe in 1978. I went to Germany as a studio painter from Russia, a man from a "kitchen" background (because at that time all non-conformists and intellectuals used to gather in kitchens, at kitchen tables). The culture of the day was very deeply inside me, and it even ruined Europe for me, as it turned that I was unable to function. I was at a crisis point in Germany and couldn't understand why nothing worked. I'm such a smart fellow, an artist I came to create, everybody should have liked it. But still nothing worked! I was at a breaking point. I had to realize, to understand, to be with or against this new environment. But not realizing where I was, having not received any experience in relationships and correlations, it was really impossible.
In time, I discovered a new world - both inside and around me. I began to make projects, having crossed the threshold of my studio, and an entire set of personal circumstances influenced my success. I became a public figure; I became terribly interested in everything. It was great, I was captivated. It required a tremendous amount of energy, expenditure of which was compensated for by a big surge - I acquired a new attitude to reality, a new attitude to things, to individuals, to the cosmic organization of the world, and it concerned simultaneously the dynamics of the entire city and country. But to implement such projects I required rather considerable resources. As a rule, in the 19th century the lot of the talented artist was depicted as that of a needy person sitting in some attic somewhere, who was only recognized as a genius after his death. Very many people lived with what turned out to be illusions, self-deception of a definite period of time. Nevertheless, this romanticism gave inspiration. If we preserve this romanticism and convert it into reality, than I can define myself as a creative personality in the situation of a market economy. That was no big problem for me. At first I thought: "Oh, what a pity that I don't have any time to paint." But later I understood: that to paint is not the most important thing; the most important thing is not to lose oneself. I must admit immediately that that my artist's path was not very even. I couldn't live the life of "not a single day without a line to write"; I could live for years without a line to write, because I didn't have any material to process, dispute, or fight. After some it, material would build up and a reaction would occur. I don't know what about the rest… Today I think that, thank God it happened that I found something more interesting. But it doesn't mean, I hope, that I will always be occupied with road building. Many things surprise me in life. But it's interesting for me to do what I'm now doing - it's a tremendous experience, an absolutely different attitude to circumstances. I used to say: "I'm on this side of the barricade and on the other side are my sponsors." Many German fine art specialists said about my big art projects: "You did it, now you can pass away, as you have won recognition." I made some insubstantial things that were nice and even pleasant to listen to, but they left no trace other than memories. When I got mixed up with big money, really outstanding projects were implemented. Having done something by myself and something with the help of Maecenas, I felt my inner strength; it became interesting for me to be on the opposite side of the barricade, where earlier my sponsors used to be. That's the game.
But I'm Orthodox person, who believes that we should worship only one God - and this is the most important thing. It turned out that this is not always the case…
E.T.: I believe this was not at all accidental, because your creative work was also connected with landscape, with reflections, with light, with the universe, and with the sky. Indeed, roads are part of this landscape. A road is a very powerful symbol, a symbol of movement, of return. If we consider your graphic art, we'll notice that you made very tough black-and-white images with red impregnations. And here, if we draw an analogy with paving, these are also black lines. More over, what is very important for me is that you are still an artist, because you make magnificent things - roads. And these roads are personally valued; these roads were built by ROSSBAN, thus, there is some unique identity. If you have something to say about landscape, we can discuss that, but, in general, it would be interesting to move on to the road to Berlin, to its history, because I know that it began much earlier than it is now being realized. Work has been underway since the 1990s. Can you say a few words about this project, if not about landscape?
V.B.: I will tell you about the landscape with pleasure, because you are right, at least in regards to the definition: a piece of paper, no matter big or small, is the very landscape where some event takes place. I tried my best to find a perspective of vision for myself, and the reason why I was in love with landscapes and cities is that a bird's eye view provides a magnificent generalization which may be instilled into the microelements of this very landscape. And this game between space, between line, the transformation of a piece of paper into landscape, where you carry on some actions, make tough graphic lines, blows, scars on the surface of paper or cardboard - this all led to the appearance of new material in the form of objects, light, elements of nature, water, shores, city ensembles. This is growth itself, the desire to overcome the limits of a personal world - from a black-and-white self-portrait to a city landscape. You are right, this movement was not accidental - I didn't have other choice. It's really a matter of fortune, when it doesn't direct you to a steel plant to build a blast furnace or to work in banking, but in a definite situation. It contains an individual-mystical path that leads to this area of ambits without limits, where you pave your love in real life. I even have a desire to cut pieces of asphalt for your exhibition, to put them together in the form of a one-ton cube and to install it somewhere in the center so that all its layers are visible and to declare "ROSSBAN" in this way - as the power of material and will. Attitude to material is the language of creative work. Real, concrete, physical - material, the way you will see it, what you will connect with it - a new experiment in understanding nature, reality.
So, speaking about the road to Berlin, one may connect it with the name of an artist and with the names of those who promoted this project. But it wouldn't be real, unless there was a creative basis in the form of a bridge between cultures. Our German partners said: "If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't have done anything here in Russia, because we don't understand these Russians." And those very Russian partners said: "Well done! You've managed to persuade them; they didn't really consider our opinion." Again, the second part of a creative personality, the energetic part, has won over the situation [He says this with irony]. And I have been "tormenting" myself over this road since 1992. It goes through as a red canvas, accompanying the work of our company.
The road to Berlin is a historical event, because it's not just an ordinary road, it has many other meanings. First, this road is often called the road to nowhere. The whole epoch we live in stands behind it, the epoch in which we only think about the lack of good roads.
Furthermore, the road to Berlin is an engineering project that was launched in 1936 and completed in 1939 within the frames of the program Jugendarbietdienst (Youth Work Service). Many young people worked on it, materials of the best quality were employed, such as basalt.
The road to Berlin was a grandiose project and it is also a relic; trenches with ammunition supplies were placed along this road (we had to dig them out by hand). Later on all of this was in the hands of the Soviet people, which led to its absolute unfitness. But, nevertheless, it was used and is still used. And the third or forth topic: the road to Berlin is acquiring a new meaning, it goes through boarders, and continues on further. This is a unified road, a symbol of historic reality that always unites some people and separates others.
In my opinion the road to Berlin has it all - from the banal to the epic. For example, it was connected with the generation of the 1960s, when young Kaliningrad guys and their girlfriends escaped there for a couple of hours far from anxiety and unnecessary looks. We can collect a large number of such lyrical stories.
And, of course, if we take this road as a technical construction, in this perspective it is a line that doesn't spoil the landscape. To some extent it even opens the landscape for the traveler. Walking this road, there are rises, slopes, and heights calculated by land-surveyors; they are all very important for those who can see them.
E.T.: The construction of the road to Berlin began in 1936. It was a symbol of a definite epoch, a sign of that period of time. Of course, it's a pity that these constructions are aging and that all of these overpasses are going to be removed. Can we say that today's road to Berlin is also the project of a definite era?
V.B.: Yes, the road to Berlin is a sign of its time. It is common to live by segments. When I saw it in 1992, it looked very touching, like a forgotten railway terminus in some out-of-the-way place in America. It's really a pity that we couldn't preserve it all and keep it somewhere as a segment of the past. But all our life…if the Antique hadn't been ruined, we wouldn't have had the Gothic and so on. Everything is built on the ruins of the past. The epoch that accompanied the road to Berlin had its own vision, its own industrial aesthetics. The normative basis today is absolutely different; it has different line widths and bay heights. Someday it will also become archival material. At this moment I have no problem in seeing a new perspective of Kaliningrad and the Kaliningrad Region. It is not necessary to attach it to the Prussian past but, on the contrary, to start from it and to create an absolutely new train of thought. The problem is not that there is somebody who is against the foreigner's past. The problem today is that nobody has anything new to tell. Nobody knows where she or he is going, who she or he is… But roads must be new. And to think that something is lost - no, a road remains to be a road.
Translation by N.Shtock