“Age seven is the top of life”

Here‘s the Russian artist Pavel Pepperstein portrayed as a boy by his father, Viktor Pivovarov. Here’s Pavel’s face on a temp fence around the ruins of the Gear Pavillion in what used to be the Gorky Park in Moscow.

Still a boy: why? Pepperstein, interviewed by Rachel Corbett in early 2019, explains:

Q. What is it about a young person’s way of seeing that interests you so much?

A. Of course, it’s about my own childhood, but more than that, it’s about childhood as a possible position, a possible way for art and culture and also a spiritual way. That’s why on the banner outside the museum we used a photo of me at age seven. I think that age seven is the top of life. I remember very well this moment when I was seven. It was summer and I was playing alone in the garden when suddenly I thought: This is the top of my life. The best I can do in this situation is commit suicide, not because I’m unhappy but because I’m maximally happy.

Now, what’s behind that happy boy’s face – literally, I mean, what’s behind that banner, than makeshift fence (nothing as permanent as temporary)? Let’s go back to the decaying Constructivist buildings, this time to the

All-Union Agriculture and Industry Expo tools and machinery pavilion (Gear Pavilion).

More pictures of the structure, plus some more here. According to Alexandra Selivanova, there are 87-year-old relics behind the portraits of contemporary artists:

The only surviving structure built for the famous 1923 Expo is nowadays located on the territory occupied by the [former] Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure. The Expo, a collective effort of many prominent architects, painters and sculptors of the 1920s, was a venue where the new Soviet aesthetics came into the spotlight. Ivan Zholtovsky was at that time in search of a new architectural language and temporarily stepped away from the neoclassical architecture…

The machinery pavilion, named Gear Pavilion, made it to this day thanks to its reinforced concrete framework, whose rhythm largely defines the expression of its façade. In Zholtovsky’s untypical symbolic planning, which hinted at the contents of the pavilion, one could see six ancient temples radiating from a single center…

This is what it probably looked like in 1923. The pavilion is supposed to be under restoration by the Garage Museum of contemporary art but this work is progressing at a barely discernible pace.

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