In 2014, an abandoned collection of over 900 16mm and 35mm film canisters was uncovered in a storage locker in Amman, Jordan. Initial findings show that the films were likely exported from Russia to Jordan between the late 1960s and early 1990s as part of a Soviet cultural exchange program, and among them are are a number of propaganda films made to highlight relations between Vietnam, Russia, and concurrent political struggles in the Arab Middle East. Work on the archive continues despite recent restrictions on researcher access levied by state custodians. This essay positions the entire archive as an aggregate … Read more
Dialogue between Yevgeniy Fiks and Thomas Sokolowski about Fiks’ recent show at the Zimmerli Art Museum
Yevgeniy Fiks calls himself a “post-Soviet” artist, thus designating his personal history of belonging to the generation that was born in the Soviet Union and came to the West after its collapse. His work can be characterized as an archival exploration of history, understood as the unearthing of facts, events, and narratives that have been forgotten or obscured by dominant ideological discourses. His first “mini-retrospective” entitled Mr. Deviant, Comrade Degenerate: Selected Works by Yevgeniy Fiks, which was on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University until the end of July, focuses on three different types of nonconformism – … Read more
Lene Markusen, Sisters Alike. Female Identities in the Post-Utopian (Leipzig: Spector Books, 2019), 184PP.
It may seem a curious and difficult project to try to translate the unique poetics of moving images into book form. Danish filmmaker Lene Markusen has taken up the onerous task in her recently published book Sisters Alike. Female Identities in the Post-Utopian. What emerges feels like a wholly individual composition, marked by an unparalleled interpictorial approach that weaves her sketches and photographic impressions of Russia—in particular, its female protagonists—with archival materials and stills from two of her films, GRAD (2004) and Sankt—Female … Read more
Mikhail Tolmachev was born in Moscow and lives in Leipzig. His work touches on questions of institutional memory and display, documentary history, and media archeology. Recent shows have included Sources Go Dark (Futura Center for Contemporary Art, Prague 2015); Beyond Visual Range (Armed Forces Museum, Moscow 2014); IK-00 The Spaces of Confinement, Casa dei Tre Oci, Venice, 2014; SLON (V-A-C Foundation, Palazzo Zattere, Venice, 2017).
Sven Spieker: In 2016 you presented an exhibition at the State Museum of Gulag History in Moscow that deals with materials from the museum’s archive, related to the Stalinist labor camp on the island of … Read more
Currently based in Zurich, Sabine Hänsgen is a researcher, curator, historian, and theoretician of Russian art. Since the 1980s she has been a member of the Moscow art group Collective Actions. In 1998, together with Georg Witte, she curated the exhibition Präprintium. Moscow Samizdat Books, which was devoted to underground publications in the former Soviet Union.(Sascha Wonders, Günter Hirt, Präprintium. Moskauer Bücher aus dem Samizdat. Mit Multimedia CD (Bremen: Edition Temmen,1998); Forschungsstelle Osteuropa (ed.), Samizdat. Alternative Kultur in Zentral- und Osteuropa: Die 60er bis 80er Jahre (Bremen: Edition Temmen, 2000); Hans D. Christ, Iris Dressler (Hg.): Subversive Praktiken. Kunst … Read more
It does not take more than a fleeting glance at much of contemporary art practice to realize that Conceptual art is still with us. The similarities go beyond stylistic continuity. Conceptual art’s concern with fundamental questions of artistic meaning and interpretation has endowed art with an awareness of its own conditions and its relationship with a wide range of social life. Indeed, most art today is indebted to the efforts of Conceptual artists in the 1960s for breaking the spell of Greenbergian modernism and opening up a wider range of issues than had previously been accepted.
Russia experienced its own … Read more
The 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Garage, Center for Contemporary Culture, September 24, 2009 – October 23, 2009
Over the last four years, Moscow’s audience has become accustomed to an extended range of international art exhibitions. These shows generally present a rather disorganized – often even misleading – view of current art production outside of Russia. The 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, with its mixed bag of works drawn from other international exhibitions, was no exception. With some 80 artists represented – among them Anish Kapoor, El Anatsui, Wim Delvoye, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu – , visitors … Read more
Formerly director of the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Kunsthalle Bern, and the Paris Musée National des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, Jean-Hubert Martin is perhaps still best known for his 1989 exhibition Magiciens de la terre, which featured fifty artists from the art world’s “center” and fifty from its “margins”, including many far removed from what is commonly thought of as “contemporary art”. A member of the Kandinsky Prize jury, Martin has been deeply involved in Russian art for over thirty years. He curated a major Kazimir Malevich exhibition at the Pompidou in 1978, the groundbreaking Paris-Moscou exhibition in … Read more
Victor Tupitsyn, The Museological Unconscious. Communal (Post)Modernism in Russia, Cambridge/Mass. (MIT Press, 2009), 339 pp.
Victor Tupitsyn’s new book, The Museological Unconscious. Communal (Post)Modernism in Russia, is a sweeping, expert treatment of Russian art from the late 1950s to the present day. Like Dr. Doolittle’s pushmi-pullyu, which Tupitsyn cites in one of his chapter headings, the author himself is a kind of hybrid being who is both inside and outside the Russian art scene he describes. Originally a critic closely involved in the unofficial Russian art scene, he left the Soviet Union shortly after the infamous Bulldozer Exhibition … Read more
Once the center of the Moscow circle of conceptualists, Ilya Kabakov has become one of the most highly visible artists working today. He was named by ArtNews as one of the “ten greatest living artists” in 2000. Throughout his forty-year plus career, Kabakov has produced a wide range of paintings, drawings, installations, and theoretical texts — not to mention extensive memoirs that track his life from his childhood to the early 1980s. In recent years, he has created installations that evoked the visual culture of the Soviet Union, though this theme has never been the exclusive focus of his work. … Read more
Guelman Gallery, Moscow, April 3 – 23, 2008.
Dmitry Gutov, a leading Russian artist and a long time member of the Moscow intelligentsia, did not have to go far when he went in search of objects to weld together sculptures exhibited at the Guelman Gallery this past April. All he needed was found dumped in his parents’ garage. While the old bicycles, vacuum cleaners, and radios might look like junk to us, to Gutov they are precious relics of a quickly receding time in Russia’s turbulent history. “These objects are dear to me”, says the artist. Welded onto grids of … Read more
Five years ago, a campaign and criminal case against the writer Vladimir Sorokin attracted considerable public and media attention in Russia. In this essay, we begin by reviewing the events of the Sorokin affair and then attempt to understand it in the context of the Putin regime’s discursive practices.
One day in mid-January 2002 a large group of clean-cut young people gathered in the center of Moscow. They came out to protest what they claimed to be the obscene and unwholesome character of certain recent works of Russian literature. At the rally, they announced the beginning of a massive campaign … Read more
Paintings of the Russian-born artist, Andrei Roiter, who presently divides his time living in Amsterdam and New York, illustrate his transient experience influenced by the prism of his ever shifting artistic identity. Roiter depicts the dilapidation and provisional structures of shacks, barns, and barracks from his past during Socialist Russia and enriches this imagery with motifs of his nomadic life-style. He skillfully interweaves romantic transient experience while paying homage to aesthetics of decay by picturing common architecture from the city fringes. Moreover, he utilizes found objects and building materials such as wood, masonite, cardboard, and fabric. His economy of means … Read more
Vladimir Paperny received his MA in design from Stroganov Art School in Moscow and PhD in cultural studies from Russian State University for the Humanities. His PhD thesis “Culture Two” was published in Russian by ARDIS (Ann Arbor, 1985), NLO (Moscow, 1996 and in English Cambridge University Press, 2003). His collection of essays and short stories “Mos Angeles” was published by NLO (Moscow, 2004). He lives in Los Angeles where he has a design studio.
Yevgeniy Fiks: Moscow is no more. One might say that in the 2000s, one could call this city “Moscow” only for the purpose of convenience. … Read more
The first Moscow Biennial opens on January 28th, 2005. The issues that this exhibition tackles are characteristic of any major international exhibition of such grand scale, and include breaking with the isolation of the local art scene, reconnecting it to a larger art world, promoting discussions, inspiring dialogues, and educating the public.
But legitimization is perhaps the most critical issue any new biennial faces, and it is interesting to analyze it with regard to the upcoming Moscow exhibition: What is being legitimized there and what is the process through which this legitimization occurs?
Although the Moscow Biennial has not yet … Read more
February 20, 2004 Reithalle Munich
During the “Days of Russian Culture,” the Reithalle offered not only a broad variety of insights into the world of contemporary Russian theatre but also a little glimpse into recent Russian film productions.
Although I am presenting the movie shorts by Alexandr Shaburov and Viatsheslav Mizin that were shown in the Reithalle as a movie event, it is hard to decide whether they should be actually considered as such, or whether the categories video art or even video fun art or even anarchistic…video…punk…fun…art would suit the work of the artists also known as the “Bluenoses” … Read more
Russian Underground and Its (Present) “Future” as a Documentary Film: A Discussion between Tomas Glanc and Jana Klenhova
Tomas Glanc is professor of Russian literature and culture at Charles University in Prague. In 1998 – 2000, he prepared for Czech Television two hour-long documentaries mapping out theRussian underground art of the 1960s – 1990s: “Notes from the Underground” and “The Heroes of Our Time”.
JK: Two parts of a series about Russian underground art, the running time of each almost one hour – it is not a very usual topic for TV broadcasting in a Central-European post-communist country. How did the idea arise?
TG: One day in 1999 Petr Slavík, a director, who worked on a project about … Read more
Max Hollein, Director of the Shirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, relates how he suddenly conceived of the exhibition Dream Factory Communism on a trip to Moscow after a chance encounter with the power and desire that radiate from Socialist Realist painting.
A visit to the Tretyakov Gallery convinced him to discard his original plan for a Kandinsky retrospective, in favour of a controversial art that fascinates the contemporary imagination with its mixture of the “monumental and folksy” on the one hand, and the “postmodern and visionary” on the other.(Max Hollein, foreword … Read more
Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 13 May 14 September 2003
Kasimir Malewitsch: Suprematism, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, 18 January – 27 April 2003
Malevich’s pieces of art exhibited this year at the Guggenheim Museum in Berlin and New York are labeled as “Suprematism.”
There are proper reasons for the title: all works exposed in this canonical collection are related to the doctrine formulated in 1915 (sketches already in 1913) and later developed by Malevich and his followers and disciples into one of the most powerful concepts and stimuli of contemporary art.
The canonical element of the … Read more
2001 was the great moment of a space odyssey and a computer called “HAL.” For everyone who likes facts as much as fiction, the year also offered the book Computing in Russia.
Its proper subtitle could read: “Who is afraid of minicomputers that could easily fill your apartment?” Books that claim to grapple with computers while addressing a wide range of readers are not that uncommon. Soon most of them may even deserve the attribute “very sexy.”
Writing about the development of computers implies today … Read more
Sokurov’s Ark is a 21st century vessel, floating on the old fluids of analogous pictures in and of the space of the Hermitage of St. Petersburg – oil, ink and film emulsion.
The digital image of these pictures lives in this Ark, produced by a “never blinking” (Kujundzic) video eye, and a noise reduced stereophonic ear: a dolby digital camera. But: We do not see the digital image itself, we see its copy, in a 35 mm film projection.
The Ark is a versatile vessel. It contains representations and their media, all grouped in biblical pairs: the blind narrator –
Ever wondered what the web yields when you type your name into Google? Some of us may be pleasantly surprised by the number of pages found, only to be dismayed by seeing the actual content.
This reviewer, although not exactly passive in terms of online activity, has been outranked by several eponymous persons: among these goldsmith, a Conservative city counselor, and an artist biker. (By the way: If you want to find out whether you rank better than your friend / colleague / worst enemy, www.googlefights.com is the site for you.)
However, if you type the … Read more
At the end of the millennium, it has become fashionable to speak about the “end of history” and the “end of art,” to say nothing about the end of the world. Boris Groys has commented that Soviet civilization was the first modern civilization whose death we have witnessed, and there are more to come. (Boris Groys, “Un homme qui veut duper le temps” in Installations 1983-1995 (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1995), pp. 17-19.) While the world might end, the art world does not have to. Arthur Danto suggests that we live in the era of the end of … Read more
Between Hope and Fear: Ilya Kabakov: The Sixties – the Seventies… Notes on Inofficial Life in Moscow
II’ya Kabakov: 60-e – 70-e… Zapiski o neoficial’noy zhizni v Moskve. Ed. Wolfgang Weitlaner. Vienna 1999 (Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, Sonderband 47)
Ilya Kabakov: The Sixties – the Seventies… Notes on inofficial life in Moscow. Vienna 1999
In the early eighties, with the endless period of stagnation under Brezhnev drawing to an end, conceptual artist Ilya Kabakov wants to come clean with his past. On the eve of Gorbachev’s Perestroika (that would eventually make possible his own emergence onto the international art scene), Kabakov takes stock of the inofficial Russian art scene, as well as his own role in … Read more