THE MAN AND THE MOON
By Tilla Buden
Leonid Tishkov may change the way you see the moon forever. His ongoing project, Private Moon, is a
mobile installation and visual poem telling the story of a man who met the Moon and stayed with her
forever. That man, it seems, could be the wonderfully romantic Russian artist Leonid Tishkov – literally
living the performance of a lifetime as he travels the world with his own private moon. We had a chat
with him about lonely lunar love, and the power of experiential poetry to unite and transform.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished my trip of Private Moon in Republic of China Taiwan. Over a month the moon visited the
strangest and most unexpected places of Kaohsiung and its surroundings. Last week was the opening of
an exhibition Private Moon in Taiwan at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts. There, in the park of the
museum, I built two installations: The Full Moon and The Moon in the Rest at the Childrens Museum of
Art. Right now I am building a new light installation for the museum in Siberia, Chukotka,
at the most eastern and northern edge of Russia. The exhibition will be called Fascinated Wanderer.
The poetic journey is main theme of my art.
What initially inspired the Private Moon series?
Ten years ago I created this installation with the glowing moon at one of the festivals of contemporary art.
I wanted to make a picture of the reality of my favorite artist – Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. After that
I brought the moon to the roof of my studio on a skyscraper on the South of Moscow, where she shone
to me personally, and brightened my loneliness.
What does this series mean to you?
This is not just a series – it is a performance of a lifetime! I have traveled Private Moon for ten years and
each time the moon reveals more space to me. The moon is a shining point that brings people together
from different countries, of different nationalities and cultures. And everyone who gets in its orbit does
not forget it ever. It gives fairytale and poetry in our prosy and mercantile world.
Private Moon is a project that you have carried on for a few years now, how has it evolved over that
I initially did this project for myself, then it became public. The beginning was in Linz, Austria, in 2009,
when I offered to take anyone to the moon and make a personal light installation where they live. For
more than six months the Moon traveled from person to person. Everyone could feel like an artist,
everyone could experience a touch of poetry. Also – the object (moon) multiplied…
Arctic Moon consists of four parts – two-meters would not fit to the plane that flies from
Tromso to Longirbyuen. Finally, in China this year, it has grown to a full moon!
You have described this work as a visual poem, and often accompany your images with poetry too. Which comes first for you, the words or the images?
Poetry is born in the image. Before placing a Private moon in a place that I like, I look at it for a very long
time. Often this is the place that I see as the basis of the poem. In the first pictures you see my country
house, the bed on which I sleep and write poetry, I myself as a lonely poet and philosopher – in the hat
and cloak of my departed father. The world is beautiful around us, you just illuminate it with the light of
poetry! And for me, the light of the moon is the perfect poetry.
Some Private Moon images are attributed to yourself and Boris Bendikov – tell us about working with other artists…
I invited photographer Bendikov to shoot my installation and my choice was a good one. He’s a great
photographer who works for advertising, and he made twelve great photos. Particularly the pictures
on the roof of my studio, where I sit in front of the moon and talk to her. After 2005 I worked with other
photographers or shoot images myself, as the moon travels from New Zealand to the Arctic where I can
not work with only one photographer. My friend, artist Marcus Williams, did the perfect shot in New
Zealand – under volcano Rangitoto. The Paris series were shot by Tim Parchikov, a good French-Russian
photographer. In Taiwan’s story I worked with Chinese photographer Po-I Chen, while in Austria the
moon was generally shot by a lot of photographers.
How has collaboration enriched your art practice?
I am grateful to everyone who walked by my side as I’m carrying the moon around the world. You see,
I’m an artist and a poet, I have no other life but to dance of the dance of the moon mad dervish. And if
someone comes up beside me and will dance with me, and if the stars respond to this dance – then a
miracle happens – an art is born. And I hope that everyone who danced with me got a bit of inspiration
for his work and for his life.
What next for you?
And then I will go to the Milky Way. The show must go on!
Photo from Leonid Tishkov Private Moon in Kaohsiung
Photographer Po-I Chen
Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts