Volgograd is a city with an amazing and sometimes hard to explain economy of memory. The city, turned into one huge open-air museum and memorial, is characterized by cultural amnesia and lack of cultural continuity. Events that are only some 20 or 30 years away from us irrevocably go into oblivion and temporary indistinguishability, waiting for a new actualization.
After the XX Congress of the CPSU in Volgograd, a large-scale "policy of oblivion" begins: the monument to Stalin on the Square of the Fallen Fighters was dismantled, and his monument on the Volga-Don Canal was replaced by a statue of Lenin. Above the entrance to the medical university, the fourth bas-relief with a Stalin portrait was knocked down, and a void formed on the open books in the capitals of the university on the right page - the name of the generalissimo was smeared with cement. On the wall of the Planetarium in front of the entrance, we find another knocked down bas-relief of Stalin. These gaps in urban space are much more eloquent than presences. Emptiness, as a technology of oblivion, finds a direct correspondence in the culture of Ancient Egypt with its iconoclasm - the destruction of the names and images of the hated pharaohs.
The work of Vladimir Potapov, created specifically for the Decade of Public Art, is made on the surface of plexiglass and requires constant visual tension and careful accommodation of the gaze: from one point, the work is figurative and iconographic, but from the other, it breaks up into almost abstract planes and color spots. An object, as an illustration of a quantum superposition, simultaneously contains both an image and its negation.
The context for the perception of the work will be a mosaic portrait of Stalin made of semi-precious Ural stones, re-opened to the visitors of the Planetarium for viewing 36 years after complete oblivion. If in this case the return of the image presupposes, for the most part, its aesthetic perception, then the work of Vladimir Potapov slightly opens the ethical Pandora's box. "Capital" is a timely work about the re-actualization of the figure of a political leader, who unites all power in his hands, and a bold statement about the manipulation of historical memory. The two-layer image, like a time capsule, hides political fantasies that we are uncomfortable admitting.
Anton Valkovsky