The Possibility of Transformation
Sviatoslav Ponomarev
State Center for Museums & Exhibitions of the Russian Ministry of Culture
16.03.00 - 23.03.00

In March 2000 Elena Vrublevskaya Gallery presented a project by Sviatoslav Ponomarev “Possibility of Transformation”. In the frames of exhibition, that took place in State Center for Museum & Exhibition ROSIZO, were exhibited the photographs by Sviatoslav Ponomarev from the series “Possibility of Transformation”, and a ritual of the Theatre of Tibetan Music was shown. This action was a real possibility of bringing together visual elements – photographs and slide-projections, sound, human body and ritual. The space, created there became the demonstration of the possibility of transformation.


It is quite obvious that conscious turning back to the past revives and organizes collective memories, helps to overcome the centripital and chaotic tendencies of modern society. An unconsidered or forgotten past can only lead to the devaluation and loss of culture itself. However, it is better not to forget, that the reclamation of primal cultural models can only have this therapeutic function when done in a deleberate and conscious way.
For the most part, the activity of the artistic community in these areas has been limited to the effective exploitation of various elements of authentic cultures, turned away from the traditional context, if not through simple mechanical copying, then by a superficial stylization or simulation or relatively unconsidered material. What, may be, is required is a thorough study and understanding of the original sources, essential notions and meaningful cultural constructions of the past, only after which can artistic interpretation be accomplished without fear of naive and destructive distortions.
The works of Ponomarev are not based on simulation or imitation, but reflect a conscious interaction with traditional and authentic cultural practices, in their original symbolic and esthetic context.


In authentic ritual, every creative motion or ritualistic action, when preserved in a way recognizing its original «cosmological» integrity, is done with the intention of overcoming the entropic and chaotic forces of nature. Considering the fact that the chaos of modern urban society is not that remote from that of the «natural» variety, this may be among the explanations for the rather large audiences attracted to Purba's concert efforts.
These performances are based on one of the most ancient Tibetan tradition Bon. They are structured to follow the various «cosmological» stages of the evolution of order from chaos. The chaotic motifs, which dominate the majority of current artistic efforts, appear here in their proper setting, as transitional elements. These elements, reflecting as they do the themes of death and rebirth, reveal a more «controlled» chaos, itself containing the seeds of cosmological order.
The archetypes of initiation are the same in all cultures and ages. Therapevtic effect of these rituals may be is based, more or less, on their inner intention of overcoming the opposites, or overstepping their borders.
The kind of transcendence which is attempted is both propelled and supported by the mythological space created in ritual, and this is its primary function. Purba intends to be aware of its responsibility to this function, and through this sensitivity can afford its audiences the opportunity to interact with the cultural practices of authentic tradition Bon.


Cosmological models and visions of the human body are a frequent feature of most traditional cultures. In Tibetan art these spatial visions are integrated thoroughly into compositional technique. They constitute a kind of sacred skeleton around which a cosmological evolution is visualizaed and are projected in a form of the subtle geometrical constructions on the figures of the divine images, during the process of their creation by an artist or a sculptor.

For his installations and photography, Ponomarev, replacing the creative stages, adapts this concept by projecting archetypical imagerey onto a pre-existing form: that of a living human body. The human body has long been considered one of the main examples of correspondence of micro and macrocosm, and in combination with traditional symbolism is also capable of truly “trancendent” transformation.


See also:

Event – March 2000