PROGRESS

(low-tech meta-management), 1998 – 2002, 23x23x32cm, fiberglass, textile, acrylic

(made in the Moldavian manufakturer Progres) 1998 – 2002

I made contact with the Moldovian firm PROGRES after Naděžda Sokolovna, an employee of the Institute for the Revitalization of CMEA in Moscow, put in a good word for me. For the project Progres the private managerial intention of the nomadic development designer was to attempt to penetrate the production structure of a new firm located in one of the former republics of the USSR. It was established in 1998, and due to various delays the whole operation shut down in 2002. This project lived in the shadow of First Schizophrenia Produced in Series. It became its other side, in the shadow of a famous star. It was not made in a successful supranational company located in the heart of western Europe, but in an unknown Moldavian firm, which, with state support, was vigorously developing their own model of the cheap motorcycle designated for local markets.

I first visited Progres at a time when the employees of the small workshop were consumed by great enthusiasm and initial euphoria following the recent establishment of the company. Since they saw my proposal to produce a motorcycle helmet in their company as a chance to promote themselves in Eastern Europe, they agreed to my offer for an independent and non-committal collaboration.

The process of production was extremely slow and lacked perspective. It was even halted several times and only thanks to my persistence was an end result achieved. Shortly after first showing them my initial drawings, I began to feel strong distrust in the attitude of the heads of the company. The skepticism was mainly due to the fact that the helmet I had designed lacked a visor. The failures connected with production were caused by bad technical conditions of the production equipment and the strong corruption of local authorities. It is surprising that we managed to produce at least a limited series of handmade helmets. However, the quality of these final products looked more like the quality of semi-finished products. Because of their subsequent bankruptcy, the company was not interested in finishing the series and I had to finish it literally on my knee (especially in the polishing and upholstering). A contributing factor to the fiasco was that when the manager of the firm found out about my intention to present the product as contemporary art, he refused to support me, saying that such a small firm from Eastern Europe will not sponsor my nonsense artistic attempts for the West. He said he would not let me make off with their goods for my own benefit.

Even though the result of my every attempt was fairly poor, I don’t feel like my idea was a bad one. The shape of the visor-less helmet came from the fact that the performance and speed of the moped PROGRES were so low that the driver could fully concentrate on the inner experience of the ride. I believe that this thought is revolutionary and corresponds to the tradition of the Russian avant-garde. I even found a proper name to label my idea – “Dynamic Minimalism.” I like the idea of a dynamic connection with minimalism, which till now has been lacking, as it has always been connected with spirituality and metaphysics. I am attempting to gradate this dynamic of “zero” and abundance (serial produced goods). When I say “zero” I mean non-present content and purpose of use. Even though I give it an abstract aerodynamic shape representing speed, there is nowhere to go, and nothing to stop for. The minimalist simplicity erased the visor. Here speed is latent, without reason, goal.

Even in the color I wanted to underline this numbing affect. As for the surface of the helmet, it was not to be classified under an style, tendency or fashion. Since it was my possibly utopian intention to have the helmet produced “eternally,” I chose an indistinct neutral polychrome. I looked for an indefinable hue. I found out that this kind of sophisticated hue was being produced and was typically used in surface repairs of computers, hospital equipment, and so on.

Universal hue 0-7-0205-3
White 101,29%
Black 24,78%
Ochre 7,56%
Blue 4,82%