Saturday, February 13, 2010

I wonder What Else I Can't Do Without Written Permission

The above actually is the monument over which I got so excited, and about which I later saw an exhibit at the museum. Hurray! Now I can do research on ideological monuments and their meanings! (And given the ideological clout of this statue, and the amount it’s been parodied, you can understand why I’ve been thinking about Schroedinger’s Cat.)

Because the monument actually was restored (something I honestly never expected to happen) and because the sculptor, Vera Ignat’evna Mukhina, was a superstar in a well-known-to-be chauvinist society (there were children’s books about her!) I’ve included her in the Totentanz research even though she’s not really an architect.

Well. I’ve been trying to include her in the research. I was up at the state arts and literature archives, where I’ve been getting some good work done ever since Phoenix helped me figure it out, and I asked for the catalogue on Mukhina. I skim through it, I choose some entries that look like promising starting points, and bring my order form back to the main desk. The archivist looks at my form and says: “Oh, Mukhina. I’m sorry, I would have told you if I noticed which catalogue you were using – the Mukhina archive is closed without specific written permission from her son.”

He gave me the son’s address and I’ll have…someone…either the Totentanz office, or the architectural institute, write me a letter of introduction and plea (with lots of stamps and seals attached). First I sent an email to Prof F to see if it isn’t unheard of to ask for polnoe razreshenie [complete access] to the archive – otherwise I need to go back and list out every single document I want to look at. Maybe I can do that without going back: I’ll just write, “Document 1, Document 2, Document 3...”

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