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My Pet Pandora Boxes

Part of Red Rijeka Assembly group show. SIZ Gallery in Kortil Gallery, Rijeka, Croatia

April-May, 2017

My Pet Pandora Boxes was an installation consisted of the four pieces: This Side Left (corrugated cardboard box with printed caption. 50×50×50 cm); 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); False Leftists' Flag (print on cotton. 50×90 cm); Art is Neither Able to Accelerate Nor to Substitute a Political Change (print, 50×80 cm).

Ilya Orlov. This Side Left. 2017.

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). Photo: 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 organisers of the Red Rijeka Assembly asked me to write a brief explication of my artwork intended to assist the gallery mediators in elucidating the exhibition to visiting schoolchildren. Below is the text I penned in response to that request. 



This artwork has four parts: a cardboard box, a watercolour painting of a bird’s wing, a red flag, and a picture of ballet performance, all of them have words on it. Can you guess what it’s all about?

It’s about words and thinking, and also about words and thinking in politics. What’s the most important thing for thinking? The most important thing is orientation, like having a coordinate system. Without that coordinate system, it would be hard to know where we are and where to go.

What are the main words we use for orientation? The main words are ‘left’ and ‘right’. These words are helpful when you need to explain where to go, or when someone is telling you how to get somewhere.

But ‘left’ and ‘right’ aren’t just used in everyday life. Philosophy and politics cannot function without them too. You might have heard that some politicians are ‘right-wing’, and some are ‘left-wing’. Do you know why?
Back in the late 18th century, during the French Revolution, people overthrew the king and started making decisions themselves. They would meet to talk about important things. The people who wanted change (and wanted it as soon as possible) sat on the left side of the room, while those resistant to change and desiring to revert to the past sat on the right. Since then, all politicians have been divided into ‘left’ or ‘right’.

Nowadays, politicians on the left argue with each other about who is a ‘true’ leftist. They might even say that someone else is a ‘false leftist’. Meanwhile, politicians on the right often consider ‘false’ all the leftists. It’s interesting that right-wing politicians are never called false. They’re seen as ‘always genuine’. Why do you think that is?

Perhaps, it’s because they don’t look for truth and don’t want to make the world better? They’re not even sure if truth exists. But leftists want change, they believe in truth, and they fight for truth and justice. For leftists, truth is really important.

The artist who made this work is a leftist too. He’s often heard people say that leftists are false. So, he decided to make a flag about it: as a friendly joke to encourage his friends to keep to stand firm in their beliefs, no matter what other people say.

What about this cardboard box? You might have seen the words ‘this side up’ written on top of cardboard boxes. Here, the artist wrote ‘this side left’ on one side of the box. Do you think the same words could be written on other sides of the box?

You might know the watercolour by the famous artist Albrecht Dürer, ‘The Wing of a European Roller’. You might have seen it in the Albertina Museum in Vienna. The artist who made this work flipped Dürer’s painting from right to left and added the words ‘The Left Wing’. Do you think it’s just about a bird’s wing, or could it mean something else?

What about this picture with ballet dancers? It says: “art is neither able to accelerate nor to substitute a political change”. Does it mean that art is like an ivory tower that can’t change the world? Or does the picture actually say something different? What do you think art is for?

Text: Ilya Orlov


Nemanja Cvijanović, Sezgin Boynik.

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