A Philosophical machine
Boris Bernaskoni’s ARC AT Nikola-Lenivets
1 / 11 The ARC, described by its designer, Boris Bernaskoni, as a landscape object rather than a building, is situated on the edge of a forest. (Photo: Yuri Palmin)
The ARC, a 13.2 meter high blackened timber structure, acts both as a kind of triumphal arch and portal, whilst also containing a well, bar and observation deck – and a single multi-purpose room.
The circumstances around the construction of this hauntingly intelligent architectural offspring of Russian conceptual art tradition are worth relating.
About 20 years ago, the village of Nikola-Lenivets in the Kaluga Region, was a typical dying outpost of Russia’s inhabited realm, with a ruined church, the decaying remnants of an extinct collective farm and just three families surviving on vegetable allotments. This was at the time when Moscow was probably the world’s hot spot of anarchic energy and creative indulgence – for the spectacular collapse of the ‘Evil Empire’ was experienced by many as an Apocalypse and a new Universal Beginning. Artists flew to the West in droves, but there were also those who sought refuge from the looming tsunami of western capitalism in the depths of the Motherland’s frozen backwoods, attempting in remote and autonomous artistic communes to realize fragments of the broken promise of global communism.