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"Sewers of the World, Unite!"


artchronika "Artchronika" #4-5 / 2001

monitor "Monitor" #4, 2001

"Vremya MN" newspaper, Moscow, March 17, #47/2001
"MK-Boulevard" newspaper, Moscow, June 4-10, 2001
"Komsomolskaya Pravda" newspaper, Moscow, #106, June 18-25, 2001
"Culture" newspaper, Moscow, June 7-13, #21/2001
"Evening Club"newspaper, Moscow, June 1-7, #21/2001
"Versija" newspaper, Moscow, June 5-11, #20/2001
"Evening Moscow" newspaper , Moscow, May 28, #97/2001
"Commersant - Weekly" newspaper, Moscow, June2, #95/2001
"Vojazh" magazine, Moscow, May, 2002
"Grafia" magazine, Krakow, 3(5)/2003


"ARTCHRONIKA" # 4-5 / 2001

Natalie Lamanova, Alexander Kholopov
Fine ARt Gallery/

The idea of creating an encyclopedia of sewer manholes as a field of spontaneous contemporary art is disarmingly obvious as well as surprisingly belated in its essence. It is hard to explain rationally why the theme never emerged on Moscow's art scene before. Magazine cartoonists have used as their favored motifs sewer grates and manhole hatches, with their regular visual structures, since about the early 20 century - at the dawn of European constructivism and geometric abstraction where they figured as anonymous self-styled doubles of Duchamp's "Pissoir". With time those grotesque Dada associations were enriched with yet another - paranoiac - context called forth by the birth of the "world web" accompanied, naturally, by the rumors of a "conspiracy". And the authors of this originally web project seized upon the chance to play in its title around the spectre of the alleged sinister plot. Though the link between the Marxist slogan and the sewer may have been also prompted by the mixed fortunes of the Internet whose image is neurotically distorted in the mass consciousness (and in some of its higher strata too). Next to the demonic nightmares imagined by the Orthodox Church technophobes and overexcited anti-globalists there is a sceptical, nearly medical, view of the Internet as a refuge for autistic people, perverts, grapho- and other maniacs, which is also deplorable, but less globalistic. Still, it was in the literal, underground, and not electronic sewers, that historical conspiracies were hatched: remember Eugene Sue with his Mysteres de Paris, Julio Cortazar with his strange characters vanishing in the Metro, or Umberto Echo's horrible mysteries lurking in those chtonic labyrinths. It may be the latest digital form of such conspiratorial discources and practices that finally lifted a ban on public demonstration of that esoteric part our troublesome culture.

Sergei Epikhin   



"MONITOR" #4, 2001



The sewage project by Natalia Lamanova and Alexander Kholopov started with their idea of a birhtday present (a manhole cover with the jubilant's name cast across is surely a splendid present to give to your ex-prof). Now the project seems to be getting a lifetime status. To begin with, Lamanova and Kholopov launched it on the web: everyone can add to their collection by sending his own photo of a manhole cover or a sewage grill. The result? This May, when the project finished its first year, they received Picture Number One Thousand. Now the two online collectors can provide the rest of the world with visuals of sewage craftsmanship of Norway, Germany, Hungary, USA, Russia, Great Britain, France - not to mention Albanian rarities, and further on around the globe. "The idea that Internet was the first ever global network seems rather arguable, - claim Lamanova and Kholopov. - The sewage network emerged much earlier, and isn't it really global? Just consider the oceans accepting every waste product of human civilization in their waters, and thus connecting sewage networks of different continents." And on top of that, add the third, no less global network: graphic images of most interesting manhole covers placed on postage stamps, published by Lamanova and Kholopov as (unfortunately) too limited editions. Meantime, while they are searching for contours and ethnic features of this supposedly primary world wide web quite unexpectedly, they project is beginning to develop into another direction as well. The "utilitarian" part of collection, representing the examples of world's sewage design is now supplemented with the "authors'" part featuring unique pieces of world's sewage art. Among the artists enriching the collection with their own versions of manhole covers, one can find Michele Brody, Craig Parsell, Konstantin Khudiakov, Boris Markovnikov, Edouard Gorokhovski, Nikolai Nasedkin, and others.