Stef Kamaris

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Stef Kamaris

Story of Klement Tchtatelnikov


Klement Tchtatelnikov was born in Moscow (?) in 1897. Little is known about him. He married a woman called Nastasia (surname unknown) and they had a daughter, Sofia. However, the traces of all three have been lost and Tchtatelnikov must logically be dead.

Nonetheless, a half-ruined building with a room dedicated to him was recently discovered deep in the forest surrounding the small town of Myškin in Yaroslavl District.

The wish-machines. Most of these are dated somewhere between 1926 and 1930 and have a small engine powering a piston which pushes a stepped surface strewn with coins. The fourth and most advanced machine operates more like a catapult. In the last one, the engine has been replaced by a rat, or rather its skeleton, as this machine was built by Klement Tchtatelnikov in the gulag of the Solovki Islands, where he may have been sent due to the aforementioned constructions.

Another work by Tchtatelnikov (after his release) which has come into our hands is a self-portrait (self-portrait after Solovki) - as a door with many eyes.

Aside from these, we also see a wish-monument, a wooden construction behind whose window lie rusty stars pierced by bullets (other, slightly fresher stars advance from the right - until they are killed too); a “magic machine” (Icarus ΙΙ), in which a tower of cards stands on a pebble-strewn surface, which vibrates when a switch is pressed; a magic sandcastle (Icarus ΙΙΙ); and various other machines, as well as an educational game quite reminiscent of the famous Tetris computer game.

Meanwhile, the role of Vitaliy Bozov - once Tchtatelnikov’s friend - remains mysterious. He is the creator of the ready-wish machine, which stands next to the others. This machine, resembling a wall clock, has various iron ex-votos around the circumference, while in the centre a hammer-and-sickle hand revolves at the push of a button, ending up at one of the prescribed wishes. Bozov (as the short text next to the work states) considered it to be the Soviet response to Aladdin’s Lantern and denied all knowledge of Klement Tchtatelnikov’s machines. Bozov was awarded two medals for this work.

This dispute may have finally led to the Everburgundy Game”* (Leningrad, circa 1945), the chess game between Tchtatelnikov and Bozov, in which it was decided that the white (red) Bozov should start with an extra row of pawns and bishops instead of knights, as opposed to Tchtatelnikov (black) who would have the usual eight pawns and knights instead of bishops and rooks. Also, Bozov would not have the right to make the first double move with the pawns in his front row. Bozov won in 33 moves.

Bozov is also referred to in two other works, entitled “Me and Bozov” and “Me and Bozov #2 and 3”.

Apart from the wish-machines, there is also a bust of Tchtatelnikov, made by himself in his honour. On the top part, two pigeons (one mechanical and activated by pressing a button on the inscription of the name) peck Klement Tchtatelnikov’s head and feed on him. There is also a model of this sealed square -surrounded by four walls - and a map indicating its exact (?) location.

The two boxes contain personal items belonging to Tchtatelnikov and Bozov