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The Pot of Basil


Author Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Center


LINK TO THE ZINE: https://pangardenia.art/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/pot-of-basil.pdf

  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.


Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Center

The Contemporary Art Center appeared in St. Petersburg in autumn 2004 as a state
institution, subsidiary to the Committee of Culture of the St. Petersburg City
Government. The Center was named in honor of Sergey Kuryokhin, an acclaimed
Russian musician and composer.
Its central aim is to unite talented contemporary artists who perform outside mainstream
pop-culture and to offer them a collaborative or individual work environment.
Nowadays 6 annual international musical festivals are held at Sergey Kuryokhin
Contemporary Art Center: SKIF, Ethno-Mechanica, Electro-Mechanica, Videoforma,
Megapolis and Sergey Kuryokhin Award. Apart from festivals, the Centre offers
performances and contemporary art exhibitions.

Stream-Mechanica is the platform of Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Center
devoted to search for impossible in a medialised reality. Stream-Mechanica works in a
logic of a new television, its main goal is to narrate about Kuryokhin Center without
means of direct contact between museum and viewer in times of self-examination. In
this examination we find trigging allowing us to look not only at Center’s progression,
but as well as at forced digitalisation of institutionalised art environment.
Stream-Mechanica’s program includes improvised musical acts, poetic
performances, online talk-shows like Dushnilla and The Pot of Basil, boring
zoom-conferences, performances on Telegram, streaming of walls, documental
interventions, distanced exhibitions, philosophical podcasts and many other
unnecessary formats that allow us to focus on reality in its simple and pristine

Ada Mukhina is a nomadic artist and theatre-maker with a focus
on politically/socially engaged documentary and participatory performance. Her
practices include directing, performing, curating, writing, teaching and researching. She
graduated with distinction from the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts and
earned MA in Advanced Theatre Practice at the Royal Central School of Speech and
Drama in London. Her theatre work has been presented in the UK, Germany, the
Netherlands, South Africa, the USA and Russia. As a winner of the Black Box
Residency at the Meyerhold Theatre Center, she recently directed and co-authored two
theatre productions in Moscow – Locker Room Talk and Caries of Capitalism. She is
currently a scholarship holder of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, a participant of the
Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University and a visiting
lecturer at GITIS – Russian Institute of Performing Arts in Moscow.