Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Siberia -- Where Bright Stars and Broad Red Stripes Become Snow Flakes and Green Ones

Window on Eurasia: Siberia -- Where Bright Stars and Broad Red Stripes Become Snow Flakes and Green Ones

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 16 – The Siberian Center for Contemporary Art in Novosibirsk opened an exhibit today on “The United States of Siberia,” one that brings together artists from around the region and beyond and that features a flag like that of the US but with snowflakes instead of stars and green stripes instead of red ones.

            The exhibit, whose opening was reported today by, offers in the words of its organizers “a jovial view of the Siberian on geography.”  Their press release continues: “For him, Vladivostok is a city in the far eastern region of Russia. In a similar way, Moscow is a city in the far western one. Astrakhan is in the far south, and so on” (

            “Happily,” the press release continues, “there are no nationality problems in Siberia, and in general, the many renowned world cataclysms are not especially interesting in this Russian province. The same thing goes for nationality issues. In Siberia and in the Urals, people do not distinguish one another on the basis of nationality. In any case, they do not give this much importance.”

            Siberians, “of course, understand administrative divisions: Georgians are a people from Georgia, Tajiks from Tajikistan and Chinese from China, but that’s about it. Because clearly, the winter here is cold, and joint survival is always much more important. Social conflicts too are smoothed out because they don’t exile anyone in Siberia further than Siberia itself.”

“Therefore,” the release says, “we jovially look at common problems from the side as it were, all the more so because these problems are hardly national but international.” This special exhibit is about “how we live in our world and how we deal with shortcomings. No one should ever forget that a beastly seriousness and an unprejudiced view of the world are incompatible.”

 “Siberia is a boundless land, happiness, and freedom.” And that in turn means that “a Siberian is not a nationality but a form of consciousness and a model of cheerful activity.” Everyone is welcome to this exhibit, the press release says, and entrance to the exhibit is completely free.

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