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Culture news, 28.10.2004 14:43

Anatoly Belkin Swamp Gold. The Original Version

anatoly_belkin 21 October 2004 - 16 January 2005

On 21 October 2004 the first large exhibition of works by St Petersburg artist Anatoly Belkin opened in the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage.

The new project deals with swamps and their inhabitants. As is well known, a large part of the territory of Europe is made up of swamps. Artist Anatoly Belkin has created "archeological finds" in cooperation with the Department of Archeology, Eastern Europe and Siberia of the State Hermitage.

A.P. Belkin's manuscript book entitled A Tragic Expedition. Swamp Gold presents what is called "documentary evidence" of gnomes and their gold, as well as scientific programs relating to their study. It has prompted a search for further material evidence of the existence of this Swamp Civilization.

The exhibition comprises 314 separate items, including texts, drawings, collages, sculptural objects, topological plans, maps and diary entries. In addition, there are diverse artifacts such as "golden" depictions of animals and people, "golden" vessels, clay tortoises, wooden sarcophagi, a gigantic flat-bottomed boat and other "finds" which illustrate the material and spiritual culture of the Swamp Civilization.

"Swamp" is a word that we find in all the diaries discovered by A.P. Belkin. Swamps united for long periods of time the most diverse peoples and made them full-fledged participants in the last tragic scientific epic. The swamp drew in their souls. The swamp made them into the greatest discoverers of the bygone century.

The task of the Department of Archeology, Eastern Europe and Siberia of the State Hermitage has been to search for reliable artifacts to make possible a full reconstruction of the Swamp Civilization. Gradually A.P. Belkin's studio was filled up with old blue-prints, moldy and semi-destroyed maps, and sketches. His shelves were used to display clay figurines, "golden mushrooms", and skulls. In the corners of his rooms "termite mounds" appeared: strange constructions suitable either to accommodate termites or for brilliant scholars. There were also huge spheres to move around in swamps and the mummies of gnomes. In addition, near the entrance to his studio, reconstructions of the very swamp inhabitants appeared, made in accordance with the laws of archeological science. The exhibition presents visitors with complete, finished objects that have no need for commentary or interpretation.

The exhibition's curators are Yu. Yu. Piotrovsky, senior researcher and deputy director of the Department of Archeology, Eastern Europe and Siberia, and A.N. Mazurkevich, senior researcher and chief curator of the Department of Archeology, Eastern Europe and Siberia.

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