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Tusovkian Meetings, 2010

Title after Viktor Misiano

Series of 10 colouring blocks containing 516 images from the Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (multiple copies made so the public can take some away with them), wax crayons, tables and chairs, school-room environment

Dimensions variable

Exhibition: Red Head Gallery, Toronto

Interactive element: Visitors sit at a table and colour the blocks, and then take one with them


In my installation, 516 images from the Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary were compiled in ten colouring books. Each of the 516 object words was translated into Spanish so an anglophone audience - such as the one in Toronto where the piece was first exhibited - could learn another language while colouring. The dictionary’s black and white line drawings lent themselves to a colouring book format, which alludes to leisure but also didactic workbooks for children. Visitors were encouraged to take a set of ten blocks with them so they would have the entire alphabet.

“The word tusovka ... comes from the verb tusovat, which ... means (to shuffle or mix the cards). … Tusovka has evolved into a free and open space in which people can meet … This is why tusovka has no precedent in its openness and democracy: doing it does not require established qualities or virtues, or professional or social standing. ... To be in tusovka, you just need to be there. ... Tusovka is a syndrome whose origins lie in the collapse of a disciplinary culture and social hierarchies. … the effectiveness of the participant [tusovchik] in such projects ... is achieved through individual flexibility and acceptance of the other.” (MISIANO, Viktor. “An Analysis of ‘Tusovka’. Post-Soviet Art of the 1990s”. Art in Europe 1990-2000. Gianfranco Maraniello. Milan: Skira, 2002.)