The basic idea of the Russian avant-garde and the Soviet project was the creation of a new man, man of the future, white man hovering on Malevich Supremas, soc-real builder of communism. As we know, the Soviet project failed. And homosovetikus has not turned out. In Russia this declassed waste called “gopnik”, derived from Gorodskoye Obshchezhitiye Proletariata (The Municipal Dormitory of the Proletariat) arisen as a result of the release of prisoners, who were to become the material for the creation of a new man.
Guys. Ousted from the culture of prosperous sections of society, despised for centuries, today, during a mass commercialization, when last illusions of youth subcultures robbed by art bohemia and dealers gone. Gopnik remain authentic "other" of postmodern civilization fused with fragments of “Silver Age” and subcultural inventions. By virtue of what any revolutionary tendencies in modern society are becoming commercial, political project. The more so any opposition.
And only genuine hotbed of original squat culture, more and more perceived themselves as oppressed “rednecks”, preserves laid-back independence and lives its own life concepts, sometime implicated in the urban hooligans criminal code of honor, radicalizing from year to year.
Practically matured to the level of an international subculture and overgrown for years of forced conservation in urban backyards with its own folklore, uniforms, artistic and musical means of expression (graffiti and rap), which became the attributes of pop and politics, this authentic environment deprived of the opportunity to speak out in the gallery space, despite the fact that many figures of this environment are taking inspiration from the bottom of modern society, the entire history of art. And independent opportunities to formulate the simple truths in the urban slums environment are denied by snobbish intellectuals, although the example of “Peredvizhniki”(The Wanderers), who rejected academic institutions and went to demos, as well as “Mir iskusstva” movement’s acts based on craving for populism and attention to its problems - things of not-so-distant times, if viewed in terms of history of art. Yet this is just step forward, but not a dialogue long overdued in the sphere of so-called contemporary art entangled in its own concepts and postmodern theories.
Eternal violent attempts to instill “cultural values” in "uncouth people" bump up against the wall of misunderstanding and rejection, however if you look impartially, you find out a lot of interesting things. Gopnik’s life "concepts" has a striking, paradoxical correlation in Western culture, especially in its most avant-garde currents. Georges Bataille’s gift economy, Antonio Gramsci and refusal to work of "thieves in law" and subculture participants; Basquiat and russian fence graffiti; West famous Ilya Kabakov draws ecstatic of loneliness and ideas from the filthy dormitory; Jackson Pollock and inkwells smashed against the school’s wall; Kurt Schwitters and Dadaists remind soiled textbooks and manuals in school; Marcel Duchamp's Mona Lisa mustache... In fact any direction of modern art draws itself from hooligan’s culture. Unexpectedly “lower” gopnik’s culture is more competitive and distinct in the post-modern perspective than vain attempts of “Westerners” to instill something on the basis of alien to real “cool guys” “nerd”, bird language., "Westerners" still understand values, yet accurately described by Dostoevsky and Gogol, very exalted and distorted.
Contemporary GOP-ART definitely based on aggression of the lower class, traumatized by Perestroika and mass media society. With its social ills such as alcohol and drugs, uncovered with fig leaf of aestheticism, but with its retained strength to ironic reinterpretation of surrounding realities. And precisely because of that GOP-ART traditionally takes us to psychoanalytical, social, metaphysical, sacral, and many other discourses. But this dialog can take place only if society wish to look at itself through the eyes of urban slum dwellers, where there is still a glimmer of something the most genuine, that moves contemporary culture, being a direct reflection of everything that mass media tells people everyday revealing only negative sides of the despised environment.
Enough of philosophical suffering about the lost original art of Russia! It’s time to reflect on contemporary art discourses in terms of simple human values of the international urban hell.
2012, August. Exhibition «Gop-art». Street art Festival «Spaghetti Fabric». Rostov-on-Don.
2012, June. Exhibition «Gop-art: from my heart», Art-centre «FAKEL», St.Petersburg.
2010, June. Hooliguys. Exhibition «Gop-art in Zhivayaperm», «Zhivayaperm» festival, Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm.
2008, September. GOP-ART: Rostovskye, "Burevestnik" cinema, Rostov-on-Don.
2008, June. «Hooliguys. The First Gop-art exhibition». The First Moscow International Biennale of Young Art, Moscow.