The Pot of Basil
was conceived as an online project of Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Center during the quarantine, where lies the genesis of its name — The Pot of Basil
is an homage to one of the novels from Decameron
by Giovanni Boccaccio. Just like the isolated young men and women in a villa — The Pot of Basil,
on the first glance, is simply an attempt to entertain oneself, a medicine from the acedia in the face of the last days.
Basil is not a decorative plant usually put in offices in order to ennoble the space. Basil is not only utilitarian, but has deep roots in European culture — from speculative etymological contingence with basilicas and Paracelsus’ writing to basil garlands in Egyptian pyramids. Thus, basil’s cultivation in Kuryokhin Center is an attempt to domesticate an institution, to make possible the contingence so critically put under question by quarantine. That is why the main question that basil poses in front of us is How to Live Together
, and we are looking for an answer in Roland Barthes’ book of the same name.
Barthes’ idiorhytmical project is a research of spaces of subjectivation, articulation of models of “being-together” and “being-alone”. Program’s guests are our friends from St. Petersburg, they go into zoom-conferences from their houses and dachas, by that trying to locate ways of being together while being alone. Basil becomes a pretext for a conversation between institution and artist, an allegory of curatorship, of institutional critique, of arrangement of taxonomies, astrological constellations, philological discipline and speculative fantasies. Reading Barthes out loud is, in certain sense, an attempt to return to text’s original function, — How to Live Together
was conceived as a compendium of Barthes’ lectures in College de France — as well as one of the methods of trigging, of creating of special rhythmic space, of speaking in order to please oneself.
The subject of the 7th episode, which will be shown as a part of Ars Electronica, will be “Distance”, one of the figures from How to Live Together.
Our guest will be Ada Mukhina, who was invited both to the discussion and work on the episode’s structure.
Conclusion for The Pot of Basil
project will be the zine, a certain author’s compendium on the basis of every episode, a scheme linking medieval marginalias to recipes of basil liquor, thoughts on translation to gardening advices, smm texts to commentaries on auto-commentaries.