The mousetrap has long been an object of attention and focus of creative efforts for Vladimir Kozin. 25 years ago, he founded the museum “Mousetrap of Contemporary Art”. The artist asked his colleagues to use ordinary rodent traps as a basis for their works. The result was a picture of the artistic scene from the late 90s – early 2000s, recording personal ties, stages of creative paths and types of artistic thinking.

A device for killing mice was transformed into a tool for capturing time and recording changeable memory. Ever since, the mousetrap as a medium and a metaphor has never left Kozin’s artistic arsenal. A new version of this theme, presented to viewers as a “Museum for mice”, also features a selection by the artist, but this time it includes truly classic international artists of the 20th- 21st centuries. The list was made according to the principle of personal preference – the history of art which the artist would like to share, to take to a desert island. Every “big name” is presented in Kozin’s pantheon by a mouse trap homage, which maintains a sometimes direct and sometimes associative link with the legacy or authorial style of the celebrity prototype. The artist himself explains his gesture as follows: Russian art lacks scale, owing to material circumstances. Russian viewers should imagine that they have shrunk to the size of mice, so that when they look at these gigantic mousetraps they feel the magnitude and

grandeur of contemporary art.

The image of a mouse timidly scratching away somewhere behind the skirting board, and evidently organizing a museum there, is revealed

in the new configuration of Russian culture from an unexpected side. Contemporary art and all contemporaneity along with it regain the status of a suspicious, semi-underground territory, a risk zone. The heretic mouse, hanging up its homemade contemporary icons, demonstrates a quiet act of fidelity to the international artistic process. And in this situation, Damien Hurst’s work of chewed wooden buns is not perceived as a cargo cult practice or a ritual self-mockery. This is now an important effort of memory, an act of resistance, preserving and vindicating one’s own system of values. Including spiritual ones.

Техт: Alexander Dashevsky


Viewers often associate an artist with one method or material, despite a long creative path and a diversity of practices. Manzoni is associated with excrement, Beuys with felt, Uecker with nails, and Christo with wrapping fabric. If Vladimir Kozin is to be reduced so mercilessly, then he is associated with rubber. His works made from the inner tubes of car tires appeared in museum and private collections all over the world, and continue to roam through numerous exhibitions, highly appreciated by connoisseurs of Russian contemporary art.

If in the past the rubber objects functioned in the exhibition space primarily as a large sculpture, now they have a background and have

turned into mountain reliefs, gloomily shining like beetles’ shells. The austere items are placed on a background as black as Malevich’s

square, as if they had frozen on the threshold of eternity. The perception gradually shifts from the “poor” subject and material into the unexpectedly majestic inner space of the work. A bra, a pubic louse, an axe, a pair of scissors come to resemble religious symbols. And even

the “moonlight” that seems cheerful at first glance, the cross-section of a rubber inner tube with an electric lamp placed inside it, at second

glass it starts to seem mystical. The unconcealed simplicity of the method only adds to this somewhat malevolent effect. Half of the objects presented in this series are weapons or tools for causing suffering. The artist has displayed automatic weapons, knives and pistols before, but they were exhibited in wire cages, like captured predators. Now they have been freed from restrictions and calmly demonstrate their full presence in contemporaneity.

The name of the project is not just a reference to the famous suprematist primary source. In the avantgarde and subsequent modernist movements, there was frequent discussion of the light emanating from a picture, which was not only reflected but also created by it. Kozin inverts this concept so that objects radiate darkness. By saying that black is white, the artist literally visualizes one of the most characteristic features of the experienced historical moment.

Техт: Alexander Dashevsky