Book review by Tatiana Salzirn published in Katalog, spring 2002, vol. 14, no. 1, Odense, Denmark, pp.51, 53



Igor Savchenko: Sergueyev’s Temptations

Published in Minsk, Belarus, 2001. Text in Russian. (Number of copies printed: 1,000)


The style of the book design reminds that of family relics from Granny’s chest or records with evidence from archives for confidential documents. Carefully kept “lumber” can be both historical garbage and the genes of sacral memory to be decoded by next generations.


A book jacket is replaced by a box of thick cardboard. Inside the book, instead of pages, there are sheaves of “letters”, “photos”, “newspaper and magazine clippings”, tied up with a hempstring, a Christmas card, a cigarette box’ cover. Sham objects are made with so much skill, they imitate the texture, the manner of execution and style of “aged” things from the past, their dingy tints, that the imitation itself becomes the principal artistic technique.


But even a very apparent metaphor is nonrandom for Savchenko. If the graphics of the book reproduces images from almost all the photographic series created by Savchenko since early 90s, the textual aspect of this sham relicquarium is an authentic work of literature. Russia and Germany, love and parting, patriotic models of both Soviet and German nazism, destruction and reconstruction, enthusiasm of great construction sites, armaments build-up, preparation and beginning of the Second World War. The novel’s title is “Sergeyev’s Temptations”, and the author of the book is Igor Savchenko. The English version is published at: <Other projects> <Sergeyev Temptation>.


As is well known, a central postulate of Savchenko’ ideology is the fatal role of a fleeting chance. A moving force and the logic of History for Savchenko as an artist has always been global sense of catastrophe, and combination of events in time and space can be multichoice as an endless patience. Followed with his previous discourse of using photography (appropriation, reproduction), during the last five years Savchenko has successfully developed a position of giving up the idea of more photo production, devoting himself to sound and literary projects, composing documentary video installations. Now, as he has turned his spectator into a reader, the artist suddenly takes his former ideological guiding lines away from him using a reverse method, i.e. total mystification of the “material” side of the life / history. Now Savchenko poses his own artistic projects of the past as elements of somebody else’s private archive. This time he appropriates their “history” for his readers / spectators, and not for himself. He returns the aura of these objects to their original authentic space, and this is definitely a magic gesture.


Savchenko, as a writer, lets his characters walk in the worlds invented by Savchenko an artist in his old series “War”, “Sky”, “Sacred Landscapes”, “Commented Landscapes”. His characters can now be embodied into real people of the past from his series “Alphabet of Gestures”, “Shadows”, “Misteria”, “Faceless”, “Wir sprechen Deutsch”, “About Love”, “About Happiness”… Savchenko still proceeds with working at many-sided images of the past. However, now the events of an epoch-making historical picture have capriciously broken into scraps of an unfinished novel. A novelist-mystifier and simultaneously, an agent and an observer, nearly a spy, he acts, at the same time, as a researcher of modern history and as a painter of battle-pieces.


Tatiana Salzirn

Moscow, December 2001