2016 Fragile Things

Evgeny Antufiev
Fragile Things
October 25 — January 15, 2016
The exhibition «Fragile Things» is a part of Evgeny Antufiev’s project for the European biennial ”Manifesta — 11″ devoted to the passion of Vladimir Nabokov for butterflies. While preparing for the project the artist stayed in the hotel room, which used to be the writer’s home for many years. The documentation (shadows projected on the wall) has become a part of the exhibition, and the ornaments on the hotel furniture served as a starting point for the creation of the works of bronze.

One hundred and ten years ago, in 1906, Vladimir Nabokov caught his first butterfly. And it has become a key event of his whole life: «I have often dreamed of a long and exciting career as an obscure curator of lepidopterology at a famous museum.» From 1941 to 1948 he worked at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, where he reorganized the collection of butterflies and published several scientific articles.

In his youth the writer dreamed of the expeditions in the search of exotic butterflies, but there were no means then. When he finally had the money, he had neither the strength nor the time for the remote travels — he still had a lot to write. For the permanent residence out of the European countries Nabokov chooses Switzerland with its accessible alpine meadows and butterflies. When asked why he lives in Switzerland, Nabokov invariably replied that the main reason is the butterflies.

From 1961 until his death in 1977 Nabokov lived in Montreux at the «Montreux Palace Hotel”. The writer and his wife lived in solitude, only occasionally receiving guests and journalists, and the friends that they had were the ducks swimming in the lake. Nabokov worked long hours since the very morning at his hotel room or on the terrace. The hotel room became his own «magic mountain». Now this room is offered to hotel guests at the cost of 732 francs (breakfast not included). For the money you can spend a night in the bed of the writer and have a coffee on the balcony with the view that he was looking at for sixteen years.

Nabokov died on July 2, 1977. His son believed that the cause of the disease, which led to the death was his father’s fall on the mountainside while trying to catch a butterfly. The writer’s last words before he died were «a certain butterfly was already on the wing». The spouses are buried at the cemetery of Clarens, a small town near Montreux.

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