Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gift Boxes

Perhaps it had something to do with not getting our gift boxes on the train trip to Niznhy. We hadn't bothered to go to the supermarket beforehand because we were expecting them. We were traveling first class after all. Last year we got gift boxes. Where were they anyway? Perhaps this feeling of being short-changed is what motivated our idea.

Last July I received a project prospectus entitled Non-Moscow, organized by the Ekaterinburg branch of NCCA, National Centre for Contemporary Arts. An art train was planned to make its way across Russia, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. It sounded a lot like Festival Express. It sounded fun! When the train reached Niznhy, artists here were considering presenting artwork on the railway platforms carried on porter carts. Unfortunately the entire project has been postponed. But parts of the idea stuck. Decentralization. Non-Moscow. Hmmmm. At first I considered a giant saw symbolically severing the track. Then we got to Nizhny and I looked up at the front of the railway station. There in large bold letters read Moscow Station. Say What? Um, that should be Non-Moscow Station. But we'd probably never get permission to do either. Nonetheless, we wanted to do something at the railway station. It needed to be something that focused on Niznhy's identity. We wanted to make Niznhy central. And we wanted somehow to disseminate Niznhy. And that's where the gift box idea was born. Lucky passengers on this Saturday's train to Moscow will be handed boxes brimming with things Niznhy. These boxes will reach destinations all over the world. And they're gonna be really cool!

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