In the night between the 3rd and the 4th of August 1996 the unpopulated island of Komaemidgima hosted a performative act on behalf of Vadim Zakharov, who landed there in the role of Pastor, the character invented by the artist in1992 just aside of Cologne’s cathedral. Pastor’s action, by the title Три видения святого отца (Three Visions of the Holy Father), describes the role of the unknown and the indistinct within Zakharov’s artistic production, which distinguishes itself within the research of a metaphysical ideal, free of any socio-political or mystical element whatsoever.
On the Japanese island the passage from the light of the day to the night’s darkness marked the preparation for encountering the universe, the ideal and limitless container in which all the imaginable exists. Alone, in a nature populated by unknown movements and sounds, the artist experienced a bond with the infinity of the cosmos that was at the same time very deep but even delicate, initiating an intellectual and mental game at the basis of which lies the meaning of existence. The fantastical charge that underlies the child’s mind and the innocence in his gaze turn out into being elements that prepare for the revelation of reality in action, thus a casual meeting with a group of children accompanied the artist during the day. Stripped from his social attributes, far away from his habits and deprived of the possibility of verbal communication, Zakharov developed a relationship with the surrounding unfamiliar reality that wasn’t based exclusively on human dimensions. The power of imagination and the perception of an unusual space and time disclosed the chance of playing with the universe in an act of psychedelic impulse.
The action is part of the смешные и грустные приключения Глупого Пастора (The Funny and Sad Adventures of the Foolish Pastor), a series of actions that took place, other than in Japan, between Russia, Germany and Spain, in which the mask cannot be distinguished any more from the artist’s alter ego, in a union where the barriers aren’t clearly definable. Whatever is ironic, stupid, childish and improbable becomes a mean to destroy the illusory state of human experience, till it is trespassed towards a new experiential dimension that lies in the limit between reality and fiction.
Inside of Zakharov’s itinerary the word Pastor implies a duplicity: on one hand it is the tale of the adventures of Pastor, a character eradicated from his context, deprived of his symbolic role and defined with irony, whom suggests a possible post-ideologic vision of the world, on the other hand Pastor was the contemporary art review where Zakharov invited the artists of the Moscow Conceptualism into taking part to recreate the atmosphere of private gatherings, an atmosphere that was lost due to the migratory movement towards the West. Pastor was therefore the collector, the shepherd that calls the herd back to himself, the mental traveler that reaches different places to forge a metaphysical dimension. Thus Pastor is a double itinerary towards the unknown: individual (Zakharov’s actions) and collective (the review that calls the conceptualists towards itself).
Its immaterial and conceptual tendency towards understanding the world finds a counterbalance within the methodic archivist activity of the Moscow Conceptualism, which started during the Eighties through the collection of pieces of work and documents of the movement, to which a video section dedicated to the documentation of expositions was added towards the end of the decade.
The instinct of conservation of the Moscow Conceptualism can be read as the continuation of the critical conceptual analysis of the role of art and the artist in contemporary society, developed since the early Eighties in the performance Надписи на руке. Я приобрел врагов (Palm inscriptions. I made myself some enemies) and in the collection По мастерским (For Atelier), made together with George Kizeval’ter.