Alexandra Sukhareva. Beginnings


Beginnings is a horometrical artefact (horometry is the art of measuring time, as referred to in the period of the High Renaissance): it does not calculate time according to calendar principles, but in itself embodies the force of change. The two canvases are covered with crystals that gradually transmute: Losing their hardness and garnet sheen, they turn into a matte purple powder, which eventually crumbles to the floor. The rate of these changes depends on the humidity, light and temperature of the environment, but primarily on the potential of the “beginnings” — those tensions between the forces of affinity and destruction, which are responsible for the integrity of any structure.

The diptych meets us on the lowest floor of the building. From here on up, the walking routes unfold as logically as the thought processes of somebody practising the ars memoriae. We see this connection between memory and architecture in the works of Giulio Camillo, a renowned philosopher and architect of the 16th century, who devised a memorisation technique in which different layers of memory can be brought into use by filing away one’s memories in arches and enfilades, here behind a column, or there in a window. Over time, a leisurely walk through a real building thus becomes the equivalent of a mental jog. The threshold at the entrance to this conceptual space is framed by Beginnings. In the artist’s own words, “once you cross it the reality of the whole architectural ensemble passes into your possession to a degree commensurate with the extent of your desire, imagination and faith”.

Photo by Ivan Erofeev

Alexandra Sukhareva
Beginnings, 2021
Horometrical artefact
Two canvases measuring 109 × 230 cm each
Curators: Maria Kramar, Olga Stebleva
Commissioned by the V–A–C Foundation (Moscow)