arts

I want your blood, Russian artist tells exhibition visitors

Published 8th February 2019
Andrei Molodkin's artwork pumps censored lyrics with volunteers' blood.
Credit: Anthony Martin
I want your blood, Russian artist tells exhibition visitors
Written by Emily Dixon, CNN
Artists might be said to bleed for their art, but their viewers are rarely required to do the same. That's exactly what Russian artist Andrei Molodkin is asking of his audience, however, for a new installation titled "Young Blood."
Molodkin's work forms part of an exhibition called "Black Horizon," opening Friday at the BPS22 museum in Charleroi, Belgium. "Young Blood" will appear alongside "НАСРАТЬ" ("To s**t on") by Erik Bulatov, a fellow Russian artist.
Visitors to "Young Blood" will be invited to have their blood drawn at the gallery by an on-site doctor or nurse. Then, they'll see their offering fed via pneumatic pump into the transparent lettering of their choice, spelling out lyrics from censored or blacklisted songs. Molodkin expects to add new pieces with different lyrics throughout the exhibition, he told CNN, saying, "It's like a mural for our times."
While 36 people have already signed up to donate blood, the artist expects many more to participate throughout the three-month exhibition.
Visitors to the "Black Horizon" exhibition are invited to choose lyrics to donate blood to.
Visitors to the "Black Horizon" exhibition are invited to choose lyrics to donate blood to. Credit: Anthony Martin
Molodkin chose lyrics that caused controversy, resulted in prosecution or were withdrawn from airplay, some of which were drawn from the UK drill music scene. Last month, drill artists Skengdo and AM were given suspended jail sentences for performing one of their songs, which police said breached a gang injunction.
Both works in Black Horizon draw inspiration from censorship and propaganda, Molodkin said, explaining, "We're recycling the language of power."
Bulatov's installation splashes bold typography across colossal canvases and sculptures, the striking work intended to "destabilize" the audience.
Bulatov's steel sculptures are similarly influenced by propaganda and censorship.
Bulatov's steel sculptures are similarly influenced by propaganda and censorship. Credit: Donald Van Cardwell
One black and red sculpture, 26 feet of steel, reads, "Everything's not so scary," in Russian. Bulatov said in a statement that the sculpture "makes an impression that is very similar to what is going on now in Europe and Russia. It is a feeling of unrest, of danger."
Artists have long expressed a fascination with blood, from Tracey Emin's blood-stained underwear in "My Bed," to Andres Serrano's vivid red photograph "Blood," to Mark Quinn's "Self," a cast of his own head made from 10 pints of his blood.
Blood is a recurring theme in Molodkin's work, too. For his 2009 piece "Le Rouge et le Noir," he filled glass sculptures with Chechen oil and the blood of Russian soldiers, while his 2013 installation "Catholic Blood" saw the donated blood of 36 Catholics pumped into a replica of the British Parliament's Rose Window.
Molodkin's "Young Blood" draws on banned or censored lyrics.
Molodkin's "Young Blood" draws on banned or censored lyrics. Credit: Anthony Martin
His latest work, he told CNN, will use the contributions of its audience to create "a new lyric of our time."
He added: "It's a test for the people to choose something to be part of, through their own blood."
Black Horizon is at Charleroi's BPS22 until May 19, 2019