Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Vladimir Arkhipov (Владимир Архипов) and his Museum of Handmade Objects

Vladimir Arkhipov and Museum of Handmade Objects

Dr. Vladimir Arkhipov, a self-taught artist, has formed a photographic collection of "functional folk art" - handcrafted items with utilitarian purposes. Originally presented as exhibitions around the world, he has collected his photos in a "Museum of Handmade Objects" (Народный музей самодельной вещи). According to, the museum is located at 5 Vozdvizhenka Ulitsa in Moscow (ул. Воздвиженка, дом 5 - Метро: «Библиотека им. Ленина», «Арбатская», «Александровский сад».

"Only socially responsible art … in which people become not just spectators but immediate participants, authors and heroes is acceptable. Not heroes as in banal soap opera plots, but heroes of their own histories, histories that have unique illustrations – the self-production of everyday things."

Since the early 1990s, Vladimir Arkhipov has been travelling around Russia and its borders, visiting cities and provinces to seek out and gather together what presently amounts to a thousand or so objects from the homes of ordinary people. The vast project is not merely a play on the amateur anthropological collection however, but gives expression to the artist’s fascination with a particular phenomena of modern culture that is often forgotten in today’s voracious consumerist society: the hand-making of everyday objects.

Every item that makes up ‘Post-Folk Archive’ or ‘Museum of the Handmade Object’ has been crafted, constructed or assembled from whole or fragments of other objects to form strange but functional contraptions – watering cans, baskets, pitchforks, ladders and go-carts. The artist describes these items as "unintentional folklore" or "everyday folk creation in its contemporary form", explaining that the objects have been made "by specific people under specific circumstances" and are "united by the one and same aesthetic – the aesthetic of a compromise between individual possibilities and needs, which is based on ethical choice".

In this scenario, rather than locating a cohesive ethnocultural or national identity, "the supposed single history of the country comes apart", as Arkhipov puts it, and is "measured not by event".

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