A Walking Myth
German Vinogradov

One time I became a hero of a myth myself. It was in January, 2003, when they opened the exhibition “Beware, Religion” in the Sakharov centre. I exhibited a few works, among which there was the “Saint of the Island of New Guinea”. The dress I was wearing at the opening was sort of a continuation of the work’s topic—I was portraying a city aborigine, walked barefooted, wrapped up in a red towel, and on my head I wore a Chupa Chups stand—these colander-like thingies were used in every shop back then. In the holes they stuck lollipops, and I stuck a couple of feathers. This costume could hardly be understood as anything other than Papuan, but somebody’s prejudiced eyes recognised an appearance of the Devil. And so in the broad spaces of the internet there went a legend that Vinogradov revealed the unclean spirit, Satan, shaitan, not only at the exhibition, but also during the court trial. The legend grew with near-documental details: there were witness “testimonies” about an elderly woman, she was testifying before the court that she was insulted by the Devil’s presence at the exhibition, and then she was asked to identify the Devil. The observant woman didn’t get confused and said that he wasn’t far—it’s him, wearing horns, sitting in the hallway and swishing his tail. A bailiff was sent to get him, who came back with a citizen dressed just the way the witness had described: a red dress, hoofs, tail, little horns. The chairman asked as required: “Tell us, are you in possession of a Russian passport?” And so the Devil took out a passport belonging to German Vinogradov.

What can I say here? I’ve always respected the Soviet court and obviously couldn’t come there clattering my hoofs. Yet I didn’t manage, while testifying, to hide my tail completely.

April 1, 2020