Do Not Believe Your Eyes, 2000

Do Not Believe Your Eyes, 2000

Gallery 111, West Hall

March 21, 2011 4:00 PM - March 26, 2011

Oleg Mavromatti

The yard of the Institute of Culturology, Moscow

"Do Not Believe Your Eyes" (2000) is a multi layered performance art piece, which addresses responsibility of artists to their role in society by representing crucifixion as an archetype of pain, humiliation and dedication. 

"Do Not Believe Your Eyes" was meant to be a scene from the film "Oil on Canvas," (never finished) in which Mavromatti directed in 2000 and played the main role. The film was a story about an artist who killed his best friend because of professional envy. As a sign of repentance the character creates "Do Not Believe Your Eyes" asking a rhetorical question-what should be his priority: commercial success or social responsibility? He chooses self-punishment and crucifixion as a widely used method for public humiliation to conquer his ego and show his sincerity.

Mavromatti's primary intention as an artist and filmmaker was to investigate pain as an inseparable part of the creative process. In the context of the socio-political situation in Russia, the action was also to address the fusion between the Orthodox Church and the state, which fusion compromised both institutions. In the context of art, the piece and the film critiqued the growing commercialization in Russian art.

This action exists only as a documentation of the performance made within the film.

The undeveloped film tape was confiscated by the police in 2000 after a legal complaint from the members of some conservative factions from the Orthodox Church like the Orthodox Gonfalon Holders and the nationalist party Russian National Unity, and it was submitted to the Attorney General Office. Mavromatti is persecuted under law 282 from the Russian Criminal Codex for inciting "religious and national animosity." His home was searched on 07.07.2000 and all his video and film materials were confiscated. He received death threats. Although Mavromatti's intentions were not to offend anyone, but rather to address important issues for the whole society, his art was misunderstood. Under this pressure he was forced to leave Russia and he has lived in exile since 2000 in Bulgaria and yhe USA.

His case is not isolated and is part of the more than decade long tendency of artists and cultural producers who are persecuted under law 282 in Russia. This tendency sometimes has surprising results, like the recent posthumous conviction of the writer Leo Tolstoy, found guilty under law 282 for his critique of the beginning of the 20th century policy of the church. Artists, curators and cultural producers have been successfully convicted under this law for the last fourteen years, not to mention the journalists. This tendency has been recognised and reflected in statements by human rights organizations like Amnesty International and the National Coalition Against Censorship, NY.

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About the Artist

Oleg Mavromatti (b.1965, USSR) is an interdisciplinary artist, who works in the field of performance, installation, film, video and computer animation. An outstanding representative of the Moscow actionism. Mavromatti's works have been shown at venues such as Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; The Culture Center of Stockholm, Pro-Arte Institute, St. Petersburg; Museum of Cinema and Central House of the Artists, Moscow. In 2004 together with Boryana Rossa he co-founded the art collective ULTRAFUTURO, which works in the intersection of technology, ethics and human/machine identity. ULTRAFUTURO is an initiator of International Robot Day (since Feb 5th 2004).

ULTRAFUTURO works were shown at the Biennial for Electronic Art, Perth (BEAP); Society for Art and Technology (SAT), Montreal; 2nd Moscow Biennial; Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, RPI, Troy, NY; MUMOK, Viena; Zacheta Gallery, Warsaw; RIAP Performance Art Festival Quebec; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Exit Art, NY. Mavromatti is also a founder of Supernova Film Union (since 1995) and Absolute Love Sect Collective (1995-2000). 

Mavromatti was also a member and founder of the art collectives Netseziudik (1993-1995) and ETI (Expropriation on the Territory of Art: 1989). Mavromatti's performances are substantial part of the respected historical monography "Russian Actionism 1990-2000" (2008) by Andrei Kovalev.


This screening will run from March 21 through March 29.

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