“Keep a dress long enough and it will come back in style.” This phrase is as plain as complicated. History and fashion always come back. The world evolves, but this evolution goes by a spiral. Mankind gave life, destroyed, resurrected, destroyed again and once again created its idols. “Where are we going to be for the next time?” – the matter we think over again and again in the era of fast food. Today we talk to Margo Bor, co-producer of ALCESTE project, about the new aesthetics, philosophy, preservation of cultural heritage, digital art and some hints of organizing events in accordance with their scale and content.
Margo Bor. Beginning of the career
Margo, I know you have been working in the field of event industry for a long time, mostly with large projects. How have you started and what are you doing now?
I believe in the fate, karma, life purpose for every man and I believe that there are no coincidences in life. When I think about my life, every time I get stronger in my faith. In childhood I wanted to be a stage director. And for the last 18 years I have been walking around this profession with a strong inner feeling that I need to grow up to gain it. Time hasn’t come yet. I graduated St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University (LETI) with a degree of Public Relations specialist. Yet being a student I had entered the event industry as an administrator. Later, in 2010 I became the Executive Director of the agency organizing public events. In 2015, I left that field. I thought that would be forever. I started a media project about bar culture, that I am strongly passionate about. And in 2016, I was invited as a coach to some business schools. Partly I faced up with event industry again. By now me and my good old friend are producing art festival “ALCESTE”. This is a series of events in Digital Baroque style. We are partnering with great brands and outstanding contemporary artists. This is happiness and a big responsibility at the same time.
How did you come up with the idea of creating ALCESTE festival? Tell me about the project: what is it about, who is the audience and why?
The idea came to Egor when he came across an audio track of an aria from Russian baroque opera reconstructed by Italian prima Cecilia Bartoli. Unfortunately, not much music sheets has been preserved from that period of Russian culture. And Bartoli made a great job, that inspired us to go on with resurrection of our national culture. But we want to do it by means of contemporary media art.
I loved and supported the idea. In the process of brainstorming, we came up with the form of the festival, or rather to say the assembly of arts. Now we are driven by the desire to think over the Baroque cultural layer, presenting it to the public in an intriguing form of art mix.
The revival of the aesthetics and philosophy of the past times in a clear form and contemporary language – this is a new up-to-date post-modern.
All about us
What is the project about and who us the audience?
The project is about us – inhabitants of modern digital world, a new intelligentsia that needs a new language of art, based at cultural heritage. Our audience is curious, but due to the intense workload, it is not always ready to devote much time to explore an item. This audience desperately needs a clear way of presentation the idea, adapted for the life rhythm. Baroque, full of symbolism, multilayers, aesthetics and beauty, attracts attention. But it is too complicated for contemporary audience. We combine two systems, create a kind of time capsule to connect present and past. And this is highly important as this connections were lost due to dramatical XXth century events in our country.
It takes time to comprehend Baroque. It is not enough just to have a glance at it. How are you planning to explain it to the modern generation with the framed perception?
We want to immerse the public step by step. This has become possible due to cooperation with our partners. I should give comments on it separately.
In February 2018, the first part of Alceste took place: a small concert of popular classical music. Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, were processed by music artist, conductor and stunning experimental musician Dmitry Shubin. This was the first step. The goal of the introductory event was to tune the audience to think over the object.
Later, in May, we gave a new, extended form of the show. The theatrical performance in digital barocco style completely surrounded the audience by the elegant atmosphere of the era. The core idea was based on the philosophical theory of Education of Senses. The essence is to educate our senses by contrasts – light and darkness, sweetness and bitterness, pleasant smell and pungent smoke, and so on. Life goes by quickly, death comes to pick beauty very soon.
I should say, our art team was great. Danila Vedernikov, well-known for his baroque theatre reconstructions, staged the show. The music was after «Barocco concertato», one of the best European authentic ensembles. They played together with Alex Ronin, a talented local electronic musician. In a few rehearsals we had a majestic show with actors, music and video-art by young aspiring artist Morgan.
Irena Kuksenayte curated an exhibition space. She gathered a unique collection of art works – full of history, but still ultramodern.
The whole concept was subtly emphasized by the beloved fragrance of Louis XV, restored according to the original recipe of old times and brought to the performance straight from Paris. Every participant of the evening picked a small souvenir – a scented handkerchief. By the way, the fragrance was chosen by an expert in niche perfumery – Anna Marushchenko.
Altogether, the show turned to be something completely new and unforgettable. Probably the audience did not expect the performance to be so much saturated. But that was the idea. We go on with our researches for a new form, clear for modern public.
This events are quite specific. Not for each and every as far as I understand. How do you find partners?
I am professional event and PR manager. From the very beginning I realized the complexity of integration and promotion of the events. When you have 200-250 people per event, you need to search for a partner who shares common values. The partner should be interested to have a specific target audience and appreciates first-hand contacts. We are thankful to the companies that support the project. This is a true symbiosis of brand and art philosophy.
In Europe this is a common practice. In Russia – not yet. You have to look for a good partnership.This is a long-lasting process that takes a lot of time and energy.
Making this project, we want to show commercial partners that it is a high time to switch to the support of small but vibrant and distinctive projects. Keeping the heritage together and creating something new step by step.
Together we can go ahead. It sounds so easy, but this is a new reality that cannot be avoided. To implement any project, we need resources and even if 80% are based on a barter, there are still 20% of the costs, that need to be covered.
Now we are fostering new ways of integration, looking for new forms of adoption of our ideas to the needs of the brands, communicate a lot with colleagues and with representatives of the business community. I am sure that this will bear fruit later on.
Work with media
As to the media partnership, it is also not that easy as it seems. They are not interested to support chamber events with a small circle of guests who come by invitation. After all, what can we offer to the media according to the classical scheme of information support – almost nothing.
We have taken the path of creating interesting content for a specific media. This is also rather long process. First you have to understand what might be interesting for the audience of the media. Then you have to find a presentation form. It might be a curious informative article on the topic, or event review. Some prefer interviews, some like tests, etc. Gathering and editing information, preparing some interesting facts – it all takes time, perseverance, patience and creativity.
We knew from the start, there would not be much publicity in media. But those collaborations that we had, were great. I am sure everything comes in time.
Generally the time is a resource that many of us do not value due to the hectic context of the era. And we do not understand how to do with that. I see time as a river. And this is your choice, who are you in this river – a swimmer who goes against the stream, a log carried away by the wave, or the one who knows the waters and enjoys the process.
You mentioned, that one can get to the event by invitation only. Do you plan to make your events more public?
We really would like to make our events more public. But the time hasn’t come yet. And we are working on it.
Describe ALCESTE in five words.
Aesthetics, Multi-Layering, Fatum, Sensuality, Philosophy.
This interview was published by KUDAGO Magazine in 2018