Moscow is the most comfortable city to live in ever. This belief, which is strengthening in me with each new trip abroad, however, is often the subject of controversy, particularly with western people. My main argument–In Moscow, if suddenly in the middle of the night you find yourself in need of a new tie, you will find where to buy it with a probability of 99.9%–sounds to them like a true manifesto of consumerism.
I was surprised to find that, when speaking about urban comfort, we associate this term with completely different things. Europeans imply safety, good climatic conditions, the welfare of the population, the high level of tolerance in society, and so on. While I, in regards to the comfort and advantages of Moscow, mean the development of infrastructure, about the important rule that the “customer is always right”, which is still relevant here, and about the fact that within a radius of one kilometer from each subway station you can solve dozens of tasks while in any Western European city they would have take probably a whole month.
In each quarter of Moscow you’ve got a bank, and post office, and shoe repair service, and drug stores, and restaurants, and fast food points, and a driving school, and a notary, and a movie theater, and shopping mall, etc, etc… All of this–on any day of the week, including holidays. And, of course, around the clock, if you need it so. Business is sharpened by the desire of consumers. We used to call it “client focused” and consider it an advantage, but where is the line between a customer’s desire and his addiction to consumption? What does client focused really mean, and where does indulging in and encouraging people’s greedy consumerism and shopping addiction start?
Young Moscow artists in the form of the creative association Artmossphere and modern business-revolutionaries in the form of the mobile operator Tele2 decided to raise these issues in the framework of the II Biennale of street art in Moscow. They jointly submitted an art-project called “In/Dependence”, which manifests independence from unnecessary things imposed by societies and corporations, and from consumerist patterns of thinking and behavior.
At the exhibition, Tele2, which traditionally opposes unnecessary spendings and imposed patterns, once again expresses the principles of sustainable consumption.
“The ideas and themes embodied in the form of street art are tuned with the values and principles of our company. Supporting projects of street artists, Tele2 speaks to the young audience in its language. We share the ideology of conscious consumption and encourage our subscribers not to pay extra money for products and services. And it doesn’t matter how big is your income, it’s all about the life principle–to spend money wisely. This approach is typical for any category of consumers, regardless of their age, profession and lifestyle”–says Igor Zhizhikin, director of the “Moscow” macro-region of Tele2.
At the exhibition, which was opened on September 15 in the “Optica” pavilion at VDNHk, a number of famous Russian street artists presented their artworks on the subject of hyper consumption. Among them were–Alex Luke, Anatoly Akue, Andrew Adno, Andrew Kasai, Andrew Olenev, Vova Nootk, Dmitry Asuka, Eugene Zhelvakov, Ivan Ninety, Petro, Misha Most, Slak, Slava PTRK, Maxim Zoom and Stas Horoshy with the interactive installation “Golden Antelope”.
“Both Tele2 and Artmossphere always oppose imposition templates and fictitious standards of hyper consumption and unnecessary expenses. In the era of globalization, we need to keep an eye on the wisdom of our actions every moment, and the purpose of our art-project is precisely to raise the level of this kind of awareness. We hope that the work of street artists, who are not accustomed to obey both the canons of art, and what society dictates to us, will help all of us to look at ourselves more clearly and uncompromisingly” –the organizers of the “In/dependence” project say.
At the opening ceremony Moskvaer’s correspondent managed to ask a few of the artist-participants about what they consider consumerism to be and how they determine what is superfluous, and what is not.
Anatoly Akue: Of course, I do not have some kind of a permanent list of necessary and unnecessary things, but, I assume, that what is necessary in any time and any context is an opportunity to move and to get education and general information in any form.
Petro: Proper consumption includes things that provide us comfort and joy, that in their turn, create conditions for revival. Everything is relative, of course. The important thing for the artist would be developing his ideas and concepts, which are generally not connected with consumption. The artist isn’t supposed to consume, he is supposed to create, basing on his wealth and excess capacities.
Dmitry Asuka: I try to be aware of how I spend my time, because it is the most valuable thing we have. And if we’d have the last hour alive on earth, I would spend it with my family.
Of all the addictions, firstly we should get rid of the need for redundant virtual communication and our habit of procrastination. The artist must be hungry for spiritual values such as harmony with himself.
The exhibition “In/dependence” will continue in the pavilion #64 until January 18, and entrance is free.
Learn more about the project here.