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Yuri Petrochenkov, Russian Porcelain Artist

 

Total running time is 24 minutes, with music by the Russian National Orchestra

The video introduces Petrochenkov and his porcelain eggs and plates exhibited at the Forbes Magazine Galleries in New York in 1997. Then the action shifts to his basement studio in St. Petersburg to learn how he makes his art. The video concludes with footage shot by Yuri and his wife Nelly in 1975 at the first exhibit of unofficial art in Leningrad.

Witness to the 1975 exhibition, Dr. Alison Hilton, currently Chair of Georgetown University's Department of Art, Music and Theater, and commentators Dr. Norton Dodge, the pre-eminent collector of Soviet unofficial art, and author Suzanne Massie fill in the art historical details.

The artist says, "My work is like a diary. One might even call it psychotherapy. It reflects my feelings and opinions. I go to my basement studio on Red Cavalry Street and listen to Radio Russia. I listen to classical music or the news and talk to myself. When I make plates, on the back side I make notes. This becomes my memory. But it is hidden. One message on the front is for the public. The back is private. It's a long Russian tradition-porcelain plates with messages, porcelain eggs-both can be inspirational."

 

Yuri Petrochenkov with his Lenin Coupon Plate, 1992. A portrait of Lenin is surrounded by ration coupons that record Russian economic history from the revolution to 1992. The porcelain plate is painted from actual coupons for meat, potatoes, "products" (1921) and "sugar" (1988) from the artist's extensive collection of St. Petersburg memorabilia.

Translation of the artist's notes on the reverse side of the plate:

I began to work on this plate on the day when they abolished the activity of the last ration cards. All samples of coupons (from my collection) are represented in natural size and color (at lest I tried to do this). I completed it in December, 1992, when I received my housing voucher which I absolutely don't know where to assign.

Today in Moscow the Communist deputies continue to kick up a fuss against Yeltsin-they very much want to prolong the reliable Soviet tragedy-to distribute meager rations by coupon and in the name of Lenin everyone's talking about itů

 
   

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  • Dr. Norton Dodge