a new mixed-media installation and performance
December 2010 — January 2011
The Great Vodka River was a new mixed-media installation and performance by Russian artist Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich, who has developed a contemporary mythology around vodka, Russia’s foremost symbol. The work was premiered at Art Basel Miami Beach 2010 as a part of Art Public, a special program featuring outdoor sculptures, site-specific installations, and other public artworks. Vodka is forever. Russia is the country probably most involved in the ideology of vodka, and as the motherland of the original vodka myth, Russia should become the source of a new, even fake mythology that would always receive a warm welcome from a public thirsty for new interpretations. To cater to these expectations we were building a structure that will accommodate an entire river. The Great Vodka River installation was housed in a metallic scaffold like structure that draws on the constructivist ideas of the 1920s (Konstantin Melnikov, Moisei Ginzburg) and later twentieth-century responses to constructivism such as the Centre Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. The technical aspects of the structure itself will be handled by the Croatian-Italian architect Marco Brajovic. Pavlov-Andreevich has conceived a multi-storied site in which the river is channeled down an aluminum gutter. The vodka was rushed downwards, following the winding of the stairs, its straight and narrow course occasionally interrupted by waterfalls, and wider and narrower areas. The artist has invented a fictitious mythological storyline involving the weeds, bacteria, fish, animals, and nymphs that inhabit the Great Vodka River. He has compiled an entire “Great Vodka River Encyclopedia,” whose text will be handwritten by the artist (in pencil and employing a naïve handwriting style) in English and Russian on each of the two sidewalls of the gutter.