top of page

My Pet Pandora Boxes

SIZ Gallery in Kortil Gallery, Rijeka (Croatia) - within the framework of RED RIJEKA ASSEMBLY Exhibition

April-May, 2017.

The exhibition consists of the four pieces:  

Ilya Orlov artist

This Side Left. Corrugated cardboard box with printed caption. 50×50×50 cm. 

Ilya Orlov artist

The Left Wing. Inverted copy of Albrecht Dürer's 'Wing of a European Roller'. Watercolor on paper. 21×30 cm. (Idea: Ilya Orlov; watercolor: Irina Ptakhova).

Image: Christian Costa

Ilya Orlov artist

False Leftists' Flag. Print on cotton. 50×90 cm.

Ilya Orlov artist

Art is Neither Able to Accelerate Nor to Substitute a Political Change. Print. 50×80 cm.



The organizers of Red Rijeka Assembly asked me to write

some brief explication for my artwork

in order to help mediators at the gallery to explain the show

to the children of elementary and high schools. 

Below is the text I wrote for kids.

A text for adults I will write later on

(if they need any).


This work consists of four parts: a cardboard box with a caption, a watercolor depicting a bird's wing, a flag, and a photo of ballet dancers. Can you guess what is it about?

It is about word. It is about thinking. It is also about word and thinking in politics. What is the most important condition for thinking?

The most important is orientation, a coordinate system. It is akin a map – it would be hard to figure out without it where we are and where to go. What are the keywords for orientation in space, and what are these coordinates?

The key words are 'the left' and 'the right'. This pair of words is your best helper if you need to explain where to go, or if someone is explaining to you what is the easiest way to get to some place.

But it is not only in everyday life we need these "the left" and "the right". Philosophy and politics cannot function without it too. You may have heard that some of the politicians are "the right", some are "the left". Sometimes they are also called "right-wing" and "left-wing". Do you know why?

There was the French Revolution in the late 18th century. People dethroned the king and started to make decisions themselves. They were getting together discussing the most important questions. Those who wanted changes (and wanted it as soon as possible) were sitting on the left side of the room; those who were afraid of changes and wanted to keep the things as it is or even to return to the past were sitting on the right side. Since then, all the politicians are divided into the left and the right.

The leftist politics often accuse each other of being not enough 'true' leftist. Sometimes they even get into argument and say that some of them are “false leftists”. But the right-wing politicians usually consider all the leftist being false. It is interesting that it is never said that the right politicians are false. They are as if being 'always true'. Do you know why?

Perhaps, it is because they never search for truth and don't want to change the world for the better? They are even not sure there is the truth. The leftists always want changes, they believe there is the truth, and claim for truth and justice. What is at stake is the truth, for leftists.

The artist who made this work is a leftist one too. For many times he heard someone says that leftists are false. He decided to make a flag out of it – as a friendly joke that could encourage his friends to maintain holding their stance, regardless what other people say.

What about this cardboard box? You might have seen the caption in English they usually write on the top of cardboard boxes: 'this side up'. Here the artist wrote on one of the sides: 'this side left'. Do you think the same words could be written on some other side of the box?

You might know the watercolor by a famous artist of 16th century Albrecht Dürer The Wing of European Roller. You might have seen it in Albertina Museum in Vienna. The artist who made this work, inverted Albrecht Dürer's drawing from right to left and added the caption “The Left Wing”. Do you think, it is about the bird's wing only or about something else?

What about this poster with ballet dancers? It is written on it: “art is neither able to accelerate nor to substitute a political change”. Does it say that art is akin an 'ivory tower' that cannot change the world? Or this poster indeed says something different? Do you think what art is for?

Text: Ilya Orlov

bottom of page