The Illustrated Constitution

The Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federation
Art-project

In cooperation with Peter Voice, With the assistance of Moscow Modern Art Museum, S’Art Gallery, Design bureau Hartmann Group, Kolodzei Art Foundation
Moscow 2003
On behalf of the authors:
Ladies and gentlemen!
The authors of this projectare mostly asked one question: "How did such an insane idea as to illustrateThe Constitution of the Russian Federation appear?"Ten-year existence of The Constitution is already a historical fact. And almost a three-year periodof work under the project is also a history although a smaller one. Inhistoriography it’s not accustomed to use conjunctive mood. However the processof creating The Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federation is itself aconvincing illustration of how the word "if" turned out to be crucialnot only in answer the above question but in the destiny of the whole project.If one of the future coauthors, having faced at empiricallevel with juridical problems, did not think of opening The Constitution in thepresence of another two future co-authors… If another one did not utter a word"to illustrate"… If the third one did not get own to materialisationof this idea with the help of his Macintosh… If these three men did not meetwith mutual understanding and as a result - participation in the project oftheir colleagues-artists…
If the co-authors did notfind friends and like-minders in The Moscow Modern Art Museum… If Russian andforeign mass media at one of the steps of the project did not find this ideatopical and socially significant… If at last it was not possible to find peoplewho having evaluated the importance of this social and artistic action andhelped to print the book.
If… However if you areholding this book in your hands then the idea turns out to be not so insane. Inthis book represented 137 works created in a period from 1993 to 2003 by morethan 100 artists. 
The works are selected andplaced in the book by the authors of the project so that the initial emotionalimpulse of each peace of art would provoke a spectator to active perception ofthe illustrated text turning him into an interested reader.
As illustrations to thearticles we used mainly works created before or parallel the idea existence.
The authors believe that itis equally impossible to avoid as the influence of "The Basic Principle of Our Life" as the atmosphere pressure. Each citizen of the Russian Federation and especially an artist is a social being and is in indirect orsometimes in direct connection with this significant category. That is why heexpresses the result of such an interaction voluntary and involuntary. Besidesin process of working on the project it was ascertained that the more authorstried to expressly "correspond" to one or another article of theConstitution the less successful attempts they were in comparison with workscreated by the artists during the period of The present Constitution validity. The Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federation is a collective work. That is why the authors express their gratitude to all of them who participatedin execution of this project as well as to the first President of The RussianFederation and multinational people of The Russian Federation asco-authors.

 
Sergey Denisov, IvanKolesnikov, Peter Voice
President of Russian Academy Of Fine Arts: Zurab Tseriteli
 
We are living in an era of great changes. Only a few decades ago it was impossible to imagine how fast events would happen in Russia, howmany new phenomena would appear in its political, economic and cultural life. The cities change quickly, especially Moscow, as well as the whole livingenvironment of our Motherland. Changes affect the souls of people who becomefreer. Unprecedented activity and outstanding individuality awaken. Today thereis no place for apathy and lethargy. There is no chance to disregard thewhirling maelstrom of various phenomena, both existed and modern ones, that constitutes our days. Onbehalf of the Russian Academy of Arts and the Moscow Modern Art Museum, I wouldlike to welcome such an interesting project as "The First Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federation." It is familiar to me that myartistic colleagues wish to express their civic position, that they are not indifferent to the evolution ofour society, on the contrary they try to do their best for its furtheradvancement. In general I like active and frank people who are able to expressclearly their viewpoint and to live it. It is even more attractive when onedoes it with the help of professional means. This is the way artists should doit to express their thoughts about the life of the country by means of art.
Thank God there are no more barriers for the masters of finearts to express themselves. Nobody dictates to artists the scope or the style,the subject or impression that must distinguish their work. Each person todayis not only able to look for his own unique way in creative activity but isobliged to do it. However it does not mean that we should dump the classicalschools of art - it is necessary and particularly important for the initial formationof an artist. To stimulate this process there are academic schools of arts thatthoroughly protect traditions and ancient techniques without which art would become poor.
At the same time we greet any creative search, even the mostbrave and incredible. The more varied styles will be in Russian art the betterit will be for the artistic culture of our country. I like ancient Chinesesaying: "Let all the flowers bloom." Anyway it is absolutely trueregarding all the Russian modern art phenomena. It is wonderful there are somany unlike artists participating in this project that came together for thefirst time. Their works make up a kind of shining palette lighting up the lifeof modern Russia by the strong and sincere feelings of a creative people. 
Ekaterina Diogot 


"An artist and The Constitution: rights and responsibilities" 
Created by the modern Russian artists the idea to illustratethe Constitution is rarely and obviously important. However at first glance itseems to be quite strange: to illustrate the Constitution is the same as toillustrate the First law of electrodynamics.
Thinking over it you start understanding that to illustratea law from the sphere of physics or even chemistry is quite possible and easy -it is fairly enough to give an example of how it works. The classical art hasalready a status of an example: it is concerned with vivid and concreteparticulars. So many works of Renaissance art were such illustrations of thenatural-scientific laws - for example, of the straight perspective.
However in case of the Constitution it is impossible to giveexamples. Unlike the natural-scientific law the modality of the Constitutiondoes not describe "what really is" but points at "how it shouldbe". It formulates the ideal as if it is already a standard even if thewhole living experience prompts it is not so yet. For example, the Article 19,chapter 2 of the Russian Federation Constitution maintains: "a man and awoman have equal rights and liberties". Indeed it is the prerogative ofthe Constitution to declare it but the most important thing is that its oneword is enough. But then it is also maintained that men and women have"equal possibilities for their (rights and liberties) realization".Starting from this moment everything becomes much more complicated: to be trueit requires being socially and correctly organized. So one can presume thatprobably it was meant "should have" rather than already"have" (no country of the world is as ideal). In general theConstitution provides positive guiding line and is not concerned with negativecategories.
Of course in some cases such categories are absolutelynecessary, for example, the top government bodies may be dissolved at one timeand may not be dissolved at another time. May be in the Russian Constitutionthere are a bit more of such observations than it is ordinarily, but The Godhelps those who help themselves.
There is a Criminal code to describe in details what shouldnot be done. It could possibly be an interesting task for the artists toillustrate its horrors. But to illustrate rights and liberties is a problem for Artas the Constitution itself to a great extent becomes real through the veryformulating of rights and liberties - not even of what should be but of whatshould be in potential.
For example it is possible and even rather easy to picturelabor. But how to picture a right to work? Will not it be the best decision topicture a man lying under the tree on a pillow? One can see that his right towork is in potential, untouched and unspent condition.
That is the reason why many illustrations to the Articles inthis book have at first and superficial glance negative character. It is likethe Constitution declares: "a man has a right to..." and an artistcontradicts it saying something like: "but in reality…"Indeed it isimpossible to say that the Constitution in our country is always and everywherestrictly obeyed. Still there are the reasons to criticize the reality. Howeverit is not the only point. Simply it is rather difficult for the art of the lastcentury to picture rights - it means to force an open door.
How to picture infinity? By picturing borders. In theavant-guard an art pictures rights of a man through the bans and limitations -an artist sees his responsibilities in it. An artist exhibits a triangle butthe spectator is reading: "my right to see a good beautiful picture, thatis not a triangle at the same time, is ignored". It depends on theexperience of a spectator if he outranges or thanks an artist for pointing atsuch his right. He would not notice it without a triangle. A still life with abunch of flowers usually does not provoke a spectator to regret at not seeinginstead of it a picture with a nude model (although in general such his right as tosee a model is violated). A triangle just better reflects this eternal tragedyof a human life. An Art, as it is, outlines the outer face of rights’ contour,the end of them. Malevich said: "In Art there is a responsibility tocarrying-out its necessary forms". And the freedom of art  is itself a right to obey its ownresponsibilities.
This is one type of logics but there is another one. Inhistory there was a special episode concerning the Soviet Art that was calledupon to convey fullness, contentment and perfection. It was difficult and evennot because there were no contentment and perfection in the real life (there isalways a lack of them) but because there are no words to express them. The taskwas not easy. It is interesting for our topic that for the first time VasilyKandinsky - the future creator of an abstract art but a middle-aged jurist atthat time - formulated this task.
Between the XIX-XX centuries Kandinsky was very keen oncontraposition of the Roman law and the traditional Old Russian law. The lastone for him seemed to be more perfect as more humane. It meant that the Romanlaw operates with prohibitions (there should not be this and that) while theOld Russian law operates with positive indications (it is required to be thisand that; everything should be all right but nobody knows what is exactlypermitted and prohibited - everything is decided in each specific case,humanly). In today’s understanding the ancient communal law is a bit of a declaration and demagogy. Butthis is exactly from this thirst for positivity was born an abstraction that isthe whole modern art. It does not act according to the prohibitive but thepositive law: it is absolutely impossible to check its legality externally, nosimilarity criterion, no rules of composition are efficient. Only that whatKandinsky called “the internal need of an artist”, that is his absolute rightto be himself and no one else, is efficient. As each artist knows sometimesthis right turns into a responsibility to look for yourself and your own stylewhile you want so much to lie down on a folding bed under a tree for a while. So the artist has not only a right to have his ownparticular responsibilities but also a responsibility to exercise his rights.
All the above makes an artist an extremely and sociallyresponsible being, poses him in the center of the whole social life. An artistbecomes a model of an ordinary man who also has his own opinion on everyproblem and his own picture in mind for each Article of the Constitution.  By illustrating the Constitution an artist isnot only speaking on behalf of the nation but turns this nation into a societyof true citizens. And this is indeed his social mission. 
Irina Kulik


There is a kind of ambiguity in the very idea of "TheFirst Illustrated Constitution of The Russian Federation" created by themodern artists. The authors and ideologists of this project - artists SergeyDenisov and Ivan Kolesnikov and the gallery owner Peter Voice - may be equallyblamed as with subservience as with disrespectful mocking. Traditionallyindependent and tuned to criticism artists should not initiate fraternizationwith the State, authorities and law, especially on their territory. And why dothey need at all illustrating the fundamental text of the Russian State systemwith the help of some obscure and suspicious Art? Domestic authorities sincesoviet times were accustomed to regard unapproved statements of our artists asa kind of dirty trick: a social artistic picture with a legend "GloryC.P.S.U." was accurately considered an anti-Soviet and subversive work.Even the previous projects of Sergey Denisov and IvanKolesnikov did not lackthis social ambiguity. The future initiators of the First IllustratedConstitution sounded the mass consciousness of the Russians by different means,provoking it at the same time. Once they proposed the leading modern artists topaint portraits of the main heroes of Russia - the list of the heroes wasascertained during the process of the real sociological research. Another timethey issued a set of postcards on the 23 of February that recorded the entiremajor defeats of Russia - starting with the Prussian campaign of Peter theFirst and the Crimean war and ending with the lost cold war and the firstChechen campaign. And the idea of the First Illustrated Constitution perfectlyblends with these tests and experiments investigating the collectiveunconsciousness of the post-Soviet nation.
Indeed, many people trying to read the fundamental text ofthe Russian State system could not overcome the resistance of the legislativelanguage material. One of the ideas of the First Illustrated Constitutionauthors was to make this basic text more intelligible for the citizens (themajor idea was to make it familiar one and all). One can only be glad for themodern art: being traditionally reproached with incomprehensibility,esotericism and nonsense at all, it still turns to be more comprehensible thanthe voice of the law.
Besides, 137 works (according to the number of the Articlesof the Constitution) created by the Russian artists - eminent professionals andeven the very new names - constitute quiet an impressive album that allows usto judge changes that happened in the modern national art for the last decade.All the works illustrated the book were created in a period since 1993 for theyear 2003. This is the period of the present Constitution validity.
The project of illustrated Constitution is unique. Editorsand artists from other countries of the world never tried to provide the basiclaw of their State with pictures. Even the classical history of the bookdrawing provides us more likely with examples of illustrated Bibles and prayerbooks but not with those of legislative codex. Perhaps the illustratedConstitution is a typically Russian and rather post-Soviet mentality product.In an ordinary State people just live according to the law, and certainly theyknow this law. In our country the Constitution still smacks of some kind ofbureaucratic inscrutability. It is like you cannot simply conform to the lawbut to tell fortunes by it, as you do by the Chinese Book of Changes. Toillustrate the Constitution certainly means to translate it to thepersonal emotional language or to interpret it as the mysterious words oforacle. This is the way a person who wants to know fortunes by the I Chingcompares the standard vague text of the prophesy with his own situation.
But at the same time this illustrating of the boring text oflaw resembles a kind of drawing all over the dull school textbook at the lastdesk or a kind of various inscriptions and pictures that quiet frequently coveradvertising placards on the streets or in metro. Rolan Bart already in 1968wrote about this ineradicable custom to appropriate advertising texts and visions:"the real response to the advertising message will be not rejection orabolishing of it but theft and falsification (…) let us perceive advertising notas a fatality but as a quotation". In the project of Sergey Denisov, Ivan Kolesnikovand Peter Voice one can also see a kind of desire to stop perceiving the text of the Constitution as a fatality. Afterall the law is experienced as a fatality only in totalitarian society whereauthorities esteem themselves more prior than the law. In the democraticsociety the law is esteemed more as a quotation but rather in academic text thanin belles-ettres. It is functional as a scientific exile.
The artists decided to illustrate the basic principle of ourlife (or those who gave their agreement to provide their works for theillustration of one or another Article of the Constitution) should have feltthemselves to be in a traditionally delicate for a Russian creator situationwhose truck with the authorities has never been amicably neutral. In a certainsense "The Illustrated Constitution" is a real catalogue of varioustypes of mutual relations between the artist and the officials ranging from thegeneral humanitarian pathos to an almost automatic snookin the pocket, from the conceptual gesture to a newspaper cartoon or aprofessionally smooth poster. Some of the works were created especially for theproject but most of the works were selected from already existed and famousones that even intensifies variety and gayness of the very approaches towards illustratingthe Constitution. That is why the suddenness of the associative lines is veryoften not only a merit of the artists but also of the authors of the project.
The illustrations in this edition of the Constitutionsufficiently differ as in their aesthetics, artistic touch and ideology as justin their quality. One could reproach the authors of the project with vaguenessof selection criteria. But the very heterogeneity of the languages used by theartists for interpreting the basic document of the State system is itself themajor and incontrovertible message of the project.
Totalitarian authorities never loved avant-guard. And theproblem is not in the avant-guard artists and literati allowing themselves somekind of evidently familiar statements. It is simply that avant-guard - the sameas the modern art that inherited a lot from it - always asked questions concerningthe very nature of the statement. It tried to analyze this nature that made allthe universally accepted languages relative. The avant-guard abolished theconcept of naturalness of one or another language, put in doubt the uniquenessof habitual language - paying no attention if it is oral speech or the language of the literature andarts. So what can be more unbearable for the totalitarian authorities than anydoubts in adequacy, competence and power of the language since they have alwaysbeen worried chiefly about maintaining their language as unquestionable. Theproject "Illustrated Constitution" is an attempt to challengeundisputable and therefore totalitarian language of the major document of thepresent Russian authorities.
 
Liya Adashevskaya 


"Constitution. Amendments and comments of art"
 
Does a thought strike anybody of us in his right sense toread the Constitution at bedtime or hold it as Bible? It's a pity. What in factis the Constitution? The contemporary Bible. Anyway for the citizens of thecountry who are middling well but hard strengthening democratic system thebelief in the Constitution, its efficacy must be akin to the belief in God andthe Letter, in our case, of not the biblical but canonical text of theConstitution.     
And probably it is this thought that governed Peter Voice,Sergey Denisov and Ivan Kolesnikov - the authors of the idea and initiators ofthe Project "The Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federation"as it might be understood from an illustration to the first Article of thefirst chapter of the first page of Genesis given as an example.    
And still in a conversation we like to put in "asEcclesiastes said...", but somehow the phrase "as an Article of theConstitution runs..."is pronounced mainly in courtrooms. Apparently thereason of the bigger popularity of the Bible, Koran, Talmud... etc. is in thefact that they are more readable as they are built on a parable basis that is afiction one and thus more understandable. Therefore, in all appearances theinitiators of the project decided to replenish this lack of artistry in theConstitution by providing it for vividness with illustrative series.Of course,the first thing, which should be talked about while discussing such a project,is the active citizenship shown by our artists, even if in  a little ironical clue, which by the way doesnot belittle the actuality of the project. In any case, at the presentation ofthe album they came up with ideas that one of the goals of the project wasto attract the attention of the youth to the Fundamental Law. Apparently thewording "Art at the people's service" baits. In this sense, it lookslike the idea of the campaign against illiteracy is eternal. And this is beautiful, but another thing seemed to usinteresting - the notional and plastic triad: the Bible - Constitution - modernart. 
What at the first moment seems unexpected, adventurous andreally is so (we mean the idea of illustrating the Constitution and the tandem(marriage) of the dull, unemotional Language of the Law and the almostnon-articulated Language of modern art) in reality turns out to be veryorganic, if go by Kozma Prutkov' wise saying "Get at the root".
Constitutions are derivatives that is descending fromreligious books (irrespective of affiliation) including the chapters of lawsand rules which citizens shall go by in all instances of life. 
The Constitution as the Bible is the fruit of the collectiveconscious and unconscious creative work and presents the embodied in the wordpopular earnings of justice, equality and brotherhood, that is someunattainable ideality. Otherwise, a myth without concrete authorship. As aresult, very soon, the process of estrangement takes place and the things thatwere born in people's depths are perceived as heaven-sent, literally:testimonies which Moses sent from the peak of the Mount Sinai. As heaven-sent,absolutely mind inconceivable, smooth and inconcrete, consequently, the samemyth. A myth is a form capable to include a number of contents, in other words,permitting not only one reading. This all is very similar to modern art, which is throughlyconceptual building its messages by laws of text that is absolutely unreadable.At the sense and gist of which one must get by making through reasonabledovetailing of hints, references, and citations.    
As for the thought about a collective unconscious in the visualseries, it found its expression in the fact that the artists' original worksillustrating the Articles are given without signature. And besides, most of theworks were created by another reason, and they have in common only one thingthey are created during the last decade - the lifetime of the modernConstitution. 
"What is this about?" - the most frequent questionthat occurs to us when we behold modern works of art. In general and whole, weguess - about the absurdity of our life, but specifically...
For most of us jurisprudence along with the modern art is acomplete jungle. But joined together - minus to minus - they gave a plus.
Here you are - to the left a text where in black and whiteeverything is very clear and concrete, without any lyrics and poetry. For thosewho while reading any legal document get their mind blurred and letters andwords turn from something significant into something cryptic signified, to theright there is a picture. We get something like the Bible for the illiterate.However, we should warn that in the text there is a certain gap between thesignified and significant (if under the former the articles of the Constitutionare meant and under the latter the illustrations to them). In general we cansay the articles of the Constitution represent the Ideal, Kampanellesque, inother words the Desired, and the accompanied illustrations - the Reality, andnot publicistically, but artistically. And in this inconsistency of the Idealand Real the main tragedy of mankind (and only Russia) is - the impossibilityof Paradise on the Earth. And simultaneously the insolvability of the dispute -social being determines consciousness or consciousness determines social being? Was the word in the beginning?
Of course, we have a lot of rights and freedoms. Indeed, wedon't use them all (of own intent or other evil intent that is anotherquestion). For example, we have the right to free medical service. But if wehave money we prefer not to enjoy it.The same with the right to free education.Why? Have a look at the illustrations.If we talk about our right to land, hererather willy-nilly but once you use it - "from dust man came to dust hewill turn".
But especially ravishing is the freedom of thought and wordand also, what is important, the freedom of silence. But all the used workstogether illustrate, probably, the main article for the participants - Article44 - it is that guarantees the freedom of literal works, arts, scientific andtechnical work and other types of creative works. However, ...here noteverything is so simple.
The authors of the project used the works of theircolleagues (of course with their permission) absolutely in the sense ofpostmodern citation, when as a citation a ready work is taken out and put intoa new environmental and, correspondingly, conceptual space. As a result we areoffered a new reading. The work is ascribed (forced upon, given) that sensethat it had not as at the moment of creation. In this case rather a concreteone. And, what earlier could be interpreted anyhow, now it is interpreted onlyin this way. Indeed, we connect a work not to anything, but to a letter of law,that does not allow variant readings. And here the freedom of a beholder isrestricted. His flight of imagination is lassoed. Theoretically, he has theright to the freedom of interpretation, but practically he does not enjoy it.In any case, within the living space of this project. Freedom becomes anillusion.
So, first, the project is as they say "Dane",timed to the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the current Constitution;second, it is political, if we take into consideration that the presentation ofthe edition took place on the eve of the most important political event in thelife of the country - Duma elections; third, it represented quite a fittingsection of the modern Russian actual art of the last decade; fourth... Thoughthe first three are quite sufficient to get into the historical records ofart.     
Natalia Kolodzei

"The First Illustrated Constitution of Russia"
    
Art and the state is the unequal equation. One hundredthirty-seven different illustrations, each an artistic interpretation of the137 Articles of the post-Soviet Constitution of 1993, honor the Constitution’s 10th Anniversary. The First Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federation unitesartists of different generations. More than 100 artists participated in theproject of Ivan Kolesnikov, Sergei Denisov, and Petr Vois supported by theMoscow Museum of the Modern Art, S'Art Gallery, and the Kolodzei ArtFoundation, Inc. The project, comprised entirely of works from the last 10years, enables the spectator to trace the evolution and view the complete spectrumof contemporary Russian art through the illustration of each of theConstitution's Articles.
Artists' participation in the political life of Russia has along history. One of the most vivid examples is the brief history of therelationship of the Russian Avant-Garde and the printed word, when the graphicarts were considered an integral part of visual art. Despite utopian ideas andanarchical moods, books of pre-1914 were designed for a narrow circle of peopleand had no great political effect. With the Revolution in 1917, when the formercounterculture for a short time became recognized as the official culturalelite, utopian ideas in the works by Aleksandr Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, andGustav Klucis turned into concrete form. Now approached as ideological tools,books became graphically more logical and symmetrical. Whereas 500 copies was avery large run for a Futurist publication in 1912, post-revolutionaryideological literature and children’s books were published in editions of 5,000to 10,000.
After the death of Lenin in 1924 and the emergence of theStalin dictatorship, diversity in graphic design and illustration diminished. TheCommunist Party, by then the only arbitrator of culture, called for an art"comprehensible to the millions." Abstraction was disfavored, and, toeliminate traces of personal touch in a collective art, photography became theprescribed source for images. In the hands of artists like Lissitzky, Klucis,Rodchenko, and Varvara Stepanova it was put to brilliant use. Lissitzky evenmanaged to give Stalinist propaganda some flair: the subject of his 1934photomontage of Red Army maneuvers is chilling, but it is hard not to admireits striking design. The very year Lissitzky produced this work, SocialistRealist was decreed the only acceptable aesthetic style. Some artists complied,others fled to Europe, while many vanished in government purges. The RussianAvant-Garde was finished, and with it the thrilling tradition of artist’s bookshad come to a halt.
The First Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federationunites living artists who began their careers during Khrushchev’s Thaw and theartists who started their careers in the post-Soviet period, all of whom nowenjoy the benefit and challenge of artistic freedom in the new Russia. It isimportant to note the individuality of each work, and of each artist, incorporatedin one project. Photographs by Vlad Mamyshev-Monro, Tatiana Antoshina, and OlegKulik, constructivist design and photomontages by Sergei Denisov and IvanKolesnikov, SotsArt allusions by Boris Orlov, an illustration inneo-primitivist style by Andrei Karpov, Andrei Bilzho’s comics, conceptual projects by Farid Bogdalov, Komar  and Melamid - almost all the artistic trendsand movements of the second half of the 20th century are represented. These 137illustrations represent different aspects of the Russian art and views of theRussian life.
It is important to note that such a project as this ispossible in Russia only since the adaptation of the 1993 Constitution, when theartist freely and, ironically, ometimes very sharply, can create their ownillustrations. Juxtaposition of an illustration on one page facing a page with itsassociated Article creates a special atmosphere - a new way of reading. Byparticipation in this project, the artist, a citizen of the Russian Federation,reflects on the past ten years of the existence (and the implications) of theConstitution of the Russian Federation, thinking back to the optimism embodiedby this document and forward to the realities (both good and bad) ofpresent-day society.
The constitution, the most important document of everycivilized society, is the basic code of laws which codifies the rights of acountry’s citizens. The paramount problem of the state is to guarantee to itscitizens a worthwhile existence and to provide stable conditions - the rule oflaw - to benefit the state and the individual. All of the artists whose works arerepresented in this project have been born under a dictatorship which wroteprogressive laws but only enforced those which served to enhance the state'spower, while doing nothing for the rights of the individual.
Therefore the participation of artists of differentgenerations in this project is very important.
Paradoxically, the first constitution in Russia appeared in1918, soon after the violent and anti-democratic Bolshevik revolution. Previousattempts at establishing a constitutional democracy include the 1825Decembrists’ revolt,  the Manifest of1905 which granted to the population basic civil rights, and the FundamentalLaws of the State of 1906. In 1924, after the formation of the Soviet Union,the first Constitution of the USSR was adopted. In 1936 the Stalin Constitutiontook effect. In 1977 the Brezhnev Constitution became law. These documents allgranted great freedoms to the individual, but were mere words on paper. TheBrezhnev Constitution was in effect until the adaptation of the Constitution ofthe Russian Federation in 1993 (although from 1989 to 1993 numerous amendments wereadded to codify the country's rapid liberalization). The history of thedevelopment and acceptance of the 1993 Constitution is very complex, althoughit was written and adopted in a record amount of time. On December 12, 1993,the Constitution of the newly-formed Russian Federation came into effect. Itwas the first Constitution of Russia which attempted to be not just words onpaper, not mere propagandist slogans, but a meaningful charter which wouldguide the new, truly free Russia.
The present project is an attempt at interactionbetween the state and art in a new democratic system where the artist is a freeagent in the society. The project enables the viewer to track historicalprocesses and changes of attitudes (and interdependency) between the artist andthe state. The First Illustrated Constitution of Russia is important inconnecting contemporary Russian art with the history of the Russian Avant-Gardebook illustration, but, like much contemporary art anywhere in the world today,it demonstrates a more reflected, ironic and sharp attitude towards thepolitical system than its Revolutionary ancestor.

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