Oleg Kulik

Art Animal

This book, published to coincide with Oleg Kulik’s performance of Two Kuliks at Ikon Gallery, is a selection from a wealth of documentation and commentary about the artist’s work since 1993. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to consider in depth his extraordinary art practice.

Beginning with Deep into Russia, arguably Kulik’s most shocking gesture, and then tracing his development through performances with various animals, and ‘actions’ as an animal, quickly a strong political and philosophical proposition becomes clear.

Kulik is one of the most radical and profound artists working today. The Russian context – both Soviet and post-Soviet – from which he springs provides a key to an understanding of his motivation, but his message is universal: ‘Anthropomorphism has exhausted itself. Can man forecast earthquakes like a small aquarium fish? Can he smell like a dog, be lithe like a cat? Does he know a bee? No. besides that, an animal cannot lie, pretend, deceive and cower.’

Kulik is clearly unimpressed by humanity, in a way not unlike that of William Blake in this country during the so-called ‘Age of Enlightenment’. Both artists express their abhorrence of human corruption and, at the same time, propose an uncompromising vision of the future.

Like Kulik, Blake was badly misunderstanding and his actions, such as sitting outdoors naked with his wife, whilst reading Milton’s Paradise Lost, were cited as evidence of a certain madness. With the benefit of hindsight, increasingly, we have come to appreciate Blake as a rare insightful figure with the courage of his convictions. The same should be said for Kulik.

Includes artist’s notes on performances and short biography.

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