The terrace turned out to be the roof terrace of Hotel Kempinski and the good company were two of our Promotors and our good friend Nic Iljine that had brought a befriended curator. The whisky, the supper and the wines were excellent and the view was splendid. From my seat I overlooked the industrial part of St. Petersburg and when someone asked if I did mind the view I simply answered: “I am from Eindhoven”. He immediately understood.
By the way: please do not think that I am spending good taxpayers money on all this luxury; this good meal and all the drinks were not on the museums account. When two people quarrel about wanting to pay the bill, I sit back quietly and let them argue. If two people do not want to pay, that’s a different story.
It was late when I arrived at my hotel. My room was still very hot, but I had no problem falling asleep. The drinks had done their job very well. And this job was not over in the early hot morning. Cool mineral water got me going again. Eggs baked with no love at all and some bread and coffee helped me on the way. That’s what they call breakfast in a four star hotel! First I should get some more bottles of mineral water and put them in the fridge. I drink two big bottles of water here every day.
I have to meet Ilya and Emilia and see how the installation of the show is progressing. To get in as a visitor in the Hermitage takes a lot of time because of the queues. There are always lots of people waiting in the sun to get into the hot Winter Palace. (In this time of the year the tsar would of course live in the Summer Palace.) But if you want to get in via the office entrance at the back it might even take you longer, if you have not got a pass. This is not because of any queues, but because of bureaucracy; someone has to write down your name and the purpose of your visit in a book on the big reception desk. Then a phone number has to be found of a responsible person. After a while it turns out that he or she cannot be reached and the telephone search continues. When an assistant is available the pass should be made and filled with stamps. After an hour you have a piece of paper no one really looks at anymore. You just have to wave it when you go past the guards.
It is good to see Ilya and Emilia again. They are working hard to get the exhibition ready. It is the last day before the opening and a lot still needs to be done. Some fifteen people are working in different parts of the exhibition. Someone who should help installing the video lies asleep on a bench. Others sit and talk. It is very hot. The temperature is clearly too high for our works on paper. And there is too much light shining on them. I discuss the amount of Lux with the chief curator. He measures with his instrument and I with ours. The measurements roughly agree and are too high indeed. Something has to be done to get this TL light lower. The chief curator proposes to take out one of the lamps in each set. I think that should do the trick indeed. It has to be ready today. After these discussions Ilya and Emilia invite me for a delicious lunch. In the hot afternoon I have to hurry to my appointment with the vice director of the Russian Museum to talk about a project for 2016 together with Centre Pompidou. I am not telling yet which project because it is still too close to an idea and thus very vulnerable.
The evening is easily filled with a quick dinner and a boat ride with a gipsy orchestra. Everyone invited by Nic Iljine enjoyed it and now he has us all on Facebook. Nothing can be kept a secret anymore…