Micol Assael
Chizhevsky’s Lessons

Micol is probably one of the most talented artists in the contemporary art field that I have met and worked with. She likes to explore and provoke with elements where humans often feel uncomfortable with such as electricity, gas, danger, machines that look messed-up. It often creates an feeling of discomfort to visitors or here might be something wrong, perhaps even dangerous. For the first Moscow Biënnale she presented an ice ceiling in a special room that was built for her. Amazing indeed as the windows of the room had to be opened in order to connect the outside world with the indoor world. Apart from the fact that the temperature was constantly minus 20 degrees outside, the Russian buildings are often over heated on the inside but by a system heating that can only switched on or off but can not be regulated. It is like that everywhere in Russia. By constantly having the windows open plus creating your own indoor freezing world it could lead to the implosion of the internal heating system and in that case we wouldn’t have a biennale at all. With the special created room we overcome that situation but her project as such was considered therefore as very controversial. But Micol got what she wanted; a project that was on the edge of being considered realistic and provocative. With the Chizhevsky Lessons Micol want to explore the effect of electricity on human beings, see how far she could push it before it would or could cause serious damage to the partici-pating people and possibly the environment. To explore such route is far from easy as who wants to do so and if so, the ones who wanted asked for a lot of money which we didn’t have. We decided therefore to go back to the basis; who could possibly have the knowledge, possible experience and would not ask for heaps of money and on top of all; would see it also as a challenge. It took a while but we discovered the answer, namely scientists who worked during the times of the Sovjet Union. If still around they would be quite senior by age but worth trying for. And we managed to find them via the Technical University in Moscow, and not only that; they wore indeed senior in age (average 70 years) but very willing to explore Micol’s desire. All of this experimenting was done in a huge laboratory in Moscow and at a former military basis about a couple of hundreds kilometres outside of Moscow and strictly forbidden for anybody that was not connected to the army. Foreigners (when trying to get in) were obviously being arrested and put in prison. The installation that was developed was super effective and super basic; one transformer, wire and copperplates. When looking at the installation itself it was super clean aesthetic and not the rough environment that Micol desires so much. That proved not possible with the Chizhevsky Lessons but that effect would be possible to create with Fomuska !

Video impression of Chizhevsky’s Lessons

Photo impression of Chizhevsky’s Lessons