“Riverbank of Slaves” repatriates works made by the artist for the Russian pavilion at the Venice biennale in 2019, and supplements them with new items. Unlike the installation by Alexander Sokurov, Shishkin-Hokusai’s project was not shown at the Hermitage. This is understandable: the Hermitage in Shihskin-Hokusia’s version has the same relation to the museum itself as Heiner Müller’s play “The Hamlet Machine” has to Shakespeare’s original. The artist rejects the transmission of static symbols of major culture in favor of an active approach to the dramaturgy of museum display. Shishkin-Hokusai developed his own type of alarming Beings that disarm the audience. They are (usually) nude girls drawn with several lines on plywood. They are immersed in contemplation and interaction with (sometimes) invisible companions or objects. They either draw a harsh reaction to nakedness as such, or a feeling of shame in voyeurism, causing a breakdown in erotic markers: their poses and activities contain no hint of the act of seduction. The successors of the girls of the American outsider artist Henri Darger, the maidens of the surrealist Paul Delvaux and the heroines of Hayao Miyazaki, they act in such a way to stop all other movements and motivations around them. series of uncharacteristically blue sculptures, which seem to be a response to the calls for decolonization of

national museums. Portraits of female models from South East Asia and Africa are displayed with anthropomorphic bags tied up with ropes. But the story of these items is not a battle with forced exoticization. It is another consideration of the position of “living machines”, whether they are servants as robots, or overseers of the ideals of communities. Is a “museum of cruelty” possible, in which pictures are free from

consumer reflex, from the status of inviolable treasures, and from evidence in studying the manipulation of power? And what needs to be freed most of all, the viewer or the work? To find answers to these questions, Shishkin-Hokusai translates the museum ritual into his own language and discusses all the components of the process of interaction with art in one breath, practically in one line. This is the topography of ruins of our personal private Europe. A study in the form of a theatrical performance, where different forms of beauty are adjusted by tools of coercion – and vice versa. If cruelty is an idea in practice, then the ambiguity of an image, i.e. potential without realization, is the basis of the museum of cruelty.