“A bit to the right, a bit down. That’s ok. Next one.” The walls have to be filled. These are the ‘dog days’. I don’t know if it is an expression in English – there is a movie called ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ – but in Dutch it means that you have to work real hard in the bloody heat to get the harvest in. Now if you leave the heat out and position me in a fully air-conditioned museum in rainy Moscow you have my current dog days. I start at 8 in the morning and work until 10, 11 in the evening. As breaks I have just a little coffee or a sandwich in between the scenes. But I am not complaining. On the contrary. There is a good technical team here, sometimes a bit rough with the artworks, but they work very fast and precise. And their days are also very long, so I am not the only one. My Russian is getting better and better because I have to explain everything I want them to do in Russian. “That can be hung.” “это можно повесить.” A bit up, the right a bit down. There is too much light on this drawing. Can you dim it?
Back from Mondrian in the New Tretyakov I go directly to the museum to select the Lissitzky photographs and to put them in place before the walls on the balcony. It’s Friday and we have two more days. I keep telling myself not to get nervous but it does not help. We all work very hard but I doubt if we can open on Monday. There is so much to do! The texts also need to be in the right place…
In the evening I have a quick bite to eat and I am off to the concert of the Kyteman Orchestra in Gorki Park. They have a very good rapper who sings in French, but I am not sure if he really is French. But the French rap gives me goose pickles. The other singers are also very good. But the Don Kosack choir stood on the stage too long without doing anything, just as a living background. Some of the compositions are a bit too lengthy but all in all it’s a good concert. Luckily I brought my umbrella because it is starting to rain again. I cannot support it with facts, but I get the impression that it’s not because of the bad weather that there are not so many people here. Such a big and costly free concert should attract at least four times as many people. I doubt if many music lovers in Moscow knew that this orchestra was coming. Or maybe they knew it but they did not know that they make such good music.
Nearby in a restaurant in Gorki Park is a reception of the Dutch Embassy. I did not print my invitation but luckily they have someone with a list of names, so I can get in. Here they have good, fresh, sparkling champagne and the tables are filled with food. Crisis? What crisis? Thymen Kouwenaar from the Embassy introduces me to our minister Bussemaker as “an expert on Russian art from the Van Abbemuseum” and I have to explain to her what I am doing here and where our exhibition will travel. I tell her that the show will go to Graz after Moscow. She asks if our Lissitzky works will be coming back to the Netherlands (!) and I assure her that we will take care of that. Then there is another person waiting to be introduced to the minister. He’s a director of Shell and I doubt if we have much to talk on, so I politely say goodbye. That will be all of my diplomacy for today and I sprinkle a few more conversations with a few more glasses of champagne and taste some of the food. Before leaving early I beg someone for a cigarette. It tasted delicious but it I had a sour throat the next morning. And the hanging started early.