A Moveable Bestiary exhibition in The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London is part of Olga’s Florensky‘s Taxidermy and Alexander Florensky‘s Modest Architecture projects.
The idea of a moving bestiary is based on an old Russian tradition of setting up bestiaries, animal fairs, and other animal-based attractions for the purpose of entertaining and educating the general public in places where the latter gathers in greatest numbers. This tradition remains unbroken even today. Crocodiles, snakes, turtles, fish, etc may all be seen, for instance, in on busy Haymarket square (Sennaya Ploshad) in St Petersburg or in the left-luggage department at Moscow Railway Station. This explains why show animals and the equipment needed to show them may be considered an integral part of St Petersburg’s urban landscape.
In desire to revive this almost vanished tradition, the present exhibition displays five specially constructed showcase-houses containing five “chuchelos” (“Stuffed animals”) of the following animals:
1. Military Telephone dog with field telephone and cartridge box
2. Chart showing cuts of meat (beef) in St Petersburg
3. Australian Kangaroo-Sportsman with boxing gloves and participation number
4. Trophy sturgeon with special mechanism permitting extension of length
5. Russian Restaurant Bear with tray, wine, and fruits.
The above selection is based on a series of associations which arise unconsciously in the collective Russian mind at mention of certain persistent archetypes… sacrificial image of the working dog (ranging from “Pavlov’s dog” to the hero of the Soviet Screen Muckhtar); the kangaroo-boxer ( a circus figure in origin, but now an absolutely general type of character); the restaurant bear as depicted in Russian folk illustrations, an idiotic symbol of Russian drinking party; the submitive “beef”, a potential source of ragouts and chops; and of course, the sizeless fish – that unfailing hero of fisherman’s tales and stories.
Moveable Bestiary has previously been shown in the Summer Gardens, The State Russian Museum (St Petersburg),The Tretyakov Museum (Moscow), The Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw and may be shown for scientific and educational needs in all public spaces.