The betrayal of intellectuals, a site-specific project by Diana Machulina

20161018_150827-1For Suite Russe Paris, which took place in the Ritz Hotel from Oct 18th to 20th, the Moscow-based artist Diana Machulina presented a project she wanted to realize for ten years: “The betrayal of intellectuals“.

Inspired by the eponymous book of Julien Benda, written in 1927, the installation is composed of four wall sculptures, portraits of revolutionary thinkers of the 19-20th centuries: Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin – as most known fighters with capitalism, Henri Lefebvre as the author of Critique de la vie quotidienne and Guy Debord as the author of The Society of the Spectacle) presented on wooden boards as hunting trophies, with horns.

The theme of Julien Benda’s book is the betrayal of the vocations of intellectuals. Benda criticizes their abandonning of altruistic and philosophical ideals to immerse themselves in the practical and material world of political passions.

Writing at a moment when ethnic and nationalistic hatreds were beginning to tear Europe asunder, Benda’s diagnosis was a prophecy that continues to have deep resonance today.

As in all her artistic projects, Diana Machulina depicts a serious subject with beautifully done artwork and documents our contemporary reality: the portraits of 4 intellectuals presented as hunting trophees, with their head in white color like ghosts from a brave past, illustrates with humour the theme of changing way of thinking.

This installation resonates with the Ritz Paris: the hunting trophees connect with the decor of the Hemingway bar and somehow the Ritz has appealed to many philosophers and intellectuals.

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