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Posts Tagged ‘Russian contemporary art’

Photography in contemporary Russia – Art Radar speaks with curator Olga Sviblova, AES+F and Igor Moukhin

Posted by artradar on August 18, 2010


MOSCOW PARIS CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION MUSEUM SHOWS

With France-Russia Year 2010 in full swing, Maison Européene de la Photographie (MEP) and the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (MAMM), formerly the Moscow House of Photography, partnered for the photo exhibition “Photography in Contemporary Russia, 1990-2010, currently on display in Paris. Art Radar Asia spoke with Olga Sviblova, curator and director of the MAMM, along with reknowed photographer Igor Moukhin and artist Tatiana Arzamasova of AES+F.

Vlad Loktev, '1:0', photograph, 1999. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Vlad Loktev, '1:0', photograph, 1999. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Olga Sviblova has achieved almost superstar status in the art world for her documentary filmwork, numerous curatorial endeavors and tireless dedication to the arts, especially Russian photography. Art Radar Asia managed to catch up with the busy Sviblova who answered questions about the state of contemporary Russian photography, it’s growth since the early 1990’s and the pervasive misperceptions of Russian contemporary art.

“Russian photography, like Russian contemporary art, is quite unknown in the world,” Sviblova says frankly. “It is much less present when you compare it with photography or contemporary art from another country like America, from European countries like France, like Germany, like Britain.” Such statements seem to contradict the international fame that some Russian artists have achieved such as rising stars AES+F and established names like Oleg Kulik and Igor Mukhin. For Sviblova, however, widespread acclaim for Russian artists is still the exception, not the rule. The curator elaborates further on the effects of the economic downturn on Russian art:

“Russian art was forgotten. And also for Russian art and photography, there were not institutions that could support it … there was also the question that the Russian market inside the country was not constructed.”

It was in this climate that Sviblova founded the Moscow House of Photography, now know as the Multimedia Centre for Contemporary Art, in 1996. That same year Sviblova organised Russia’s first photobiennale, followed by the first Moscow International Photography Festival in 1999. Efforts such as these changed the climate of the art scene.

“So now we have in Russia a completely different situation … we have instutions for art and photography, we have our museums. In another sense photography has started to be open in the Russian region, photography started to be popular and contemporary art started, in the beginning, to be popular.”

Exploring the popularity of photography

For Sviblova, there is no boundary between art and photography, they are part of one another, and photography has always been art. However, photography as a medium has exploded in popularity and is, according to Sviblova, one of the “most important arts today”.

Igor Moukhin, "Moscou", photograph, 1988. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie

Igor Moukhin, 'Moscou', photograph, 1988. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Factoring into the success of photography in Russia are the new freedoms afforded to artists. This new freedom which allows photojournalistic, “street” photography to “show the face of Russia”, a truthful representation of the people, society and Russian life.

“You really can tell that today photography is an extremely popular media. Today nobody asks me if photography is art or is not art; it’s really extremely popular in Russia.”

Russian photographer Igor Moukhin echoed the same ideas when we asked him if photography was being embraced within Russia.

“People have ceased and to look [at] and trust the TV. There is no independent press. And on the Internet  [there are] a lot of photos, photos about today, yesterday, about life, and these photos discuss.”

Moukhin uses the term “direct photo” in reference to his photographs of Soviet youths and comments on the subjectiveness of his photography, saying that it is not universal since context is necessary. To artists such as Moukhin, context and knowledge of Russian history are necessary to grasp the messgae of his “direct” photography. Yet not all Russian photography is specific to Russian experiences. Communication between countries is another factor when examining the popularity of Russian photography. Acknowledging a lack of communication between Russia and other countries, Sviblova highlights the importance of photography as a method to dispel misconcenptions, and to speak about what has happened in Russia in the past and what is happening now.

Nikolai Polissky, La Tour, photograph, 2000. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Nikolai Polissky, 'La Tour', photograph, 2000. Image courtesy of Maison Européene de la Photographie.

As Olga Sviblova states, the MEP exhibition in Paris presents yet another chance “to show what kind of new photography was born in that time [1990-2010] … we can show what has happened in Russia: on a social level, emotional level, economic level, and political level”. Images of revolution from the first and second Chechen wars also make up an important part of the exhibition and Sviblova stresses how photographers began to tackle issues outside of Russia, on an international level.

“We tried to show history … we tried to show the first and second Chechen wars, what was the Russian strategy … we tried to show the best photographers working at the time … At the same time, we tried to show what happens in the country, we tried to show the youth generation, the old people.”

While some artists use documentary photography to focus on Russian experiences, others use documentary photography to create ties to the rest of the world.  As the birth of “new Russia” took place, contemporary street photography captured it from every angle.

Russian photography, international issues

Although it is one of the most popular types of photography in Russia, the exhibition includes much more than just documentary-style images. What Sviblova calls classical art photography and fashion photography make up the remainder of the show and include names such as Oleg Kulik and Arsen Savadov.

AES+F, 'The Islamic Project: New Liberty', 2003, lambda print. Image courtesy of the AES+F website.

AES+F, 'The Islamic Project: New Liberty', 2003, lambda print. Image courtesy of the AES+F website.

Sviblova also speaks in length about the popular artist collective AES+F, a group that uses photography as a tool to address universal, and often controversial, concepts.  In reference to images from “The Islamic Project” series Sviblova remarks:

“After September 11 their images started to be so famous, distributed through the Internet and often given out without the signature of the artist because it was like popular art. It was not the mirror of reality, but also the magic mirror of the future … AES+F is one of the most sophisticated, one of the most complicated, and at the same time one fo the most magic artist [groups].”

In a brief Art Radar interview with AES+F’s Tatiana Arzamasova, the artist sheds some light on the collective’s use of photography in recent series such as “The Last Riot” and ‘”The Feast of Trimalchio”. “We use photography as a tool,” she remarks.

On the artists’ website they make no attempt to hide their process, showing how they use assorted images as a starting point for the final product. As a collective,the artists of AES, with the exception of Vladmir Fridkes, do not consider themselves “traditional” photographers. When asked if the international community still had misperceptions about Russian art and Russian photography, Arzamasova indicated that the idea of Russian photography as socialist media is still present. “[People] think of Russia as poor…they still think of the Cold War” Arzamasova states. Undaunted by such stereotypes, AES+F continues to stretch the boundaries of what Russian art and photography is considered to be. Olga Sviblova concludes:

“Great photography is not just image and document of reality, it’s much more metaphoric. If you know the language of the artist, you can read the message and through this message you can see not just today, or the past, you can see our future”

Other stand-out artists featured in the exhibition, which will run until 29 August this year, include the Fenso group, Sergui Tchilikov, Vladmir KupriyanovGeorgy Pervov, and Vladmir Fridkes.

EH/KN

Related Topics: Russian artists, photography, curators

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Posted in AES+F, Collaborative, Curators, Events, France, From Art Radar, Gallery shows, Interviews, Museum shows, Olga Sviblova, Paris, Photography, Professionals, Russian, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World premiere of new AES+F photo collages at Moscow’s Garage Center – video

Posted by artradar on August 10, 2010


RUSSIAN ARTIST COLLECTIVE PHOTOGRAPHY VIDEO

Made up of artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladmir Fridkes, internatinoally acclaimed Russian collective AES+F returns once again to Moscow’s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in the center’s newest exhibition, “The Feast of Trimalchio“.

AES+F, The Feast of Trimalchio. Triptych #1. Panorama #2. 2010, Digital Collage.  Image courtesy of Garage Center for Contemporary Culture

AES+F, 'Triptych #1. Panorama #2', 2010, digital collage. Image courtesy of Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.

Curated by Olga Sviblova, the collective’s interpretation of Satyricon, a work by Roman poet Gaius Petronious Arbiter, features a nine channel video installation of a hotel resort paradise threatened by disaster. The artists’ website states:

the atmosphere of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ can be seen as bringing together the hotel rituals of leisure and pleasure … On the other hand the ‘servants’ are more than attentive service-providers. They are participants in an orgy, bringing to life any fantasy of the ‘masters’.

The show, which runs from 19 June to 29 August, features both the video installation as well as several brand new, never-before-seen panoramic digital collages.

Watch Garage Center’s short preview of “The Feast of Trimalchio” here (video length, 1:07 mins)

EH/KN

Related Topics: AES+F, Russian, photography, video art

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Posted in AES+F, Collaborative, Consumerism, Fantasy art, Human Body, Moscow, Museum shows, Olga Sviblova, Photography, Russia, Russian, Utopian art, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Russian curators prosecuted for showcasing banned art: media round-up

Posted by artradar on August 2, 2010


RUSSIAN ART CURATORS BANNED ART LAW

After a two-year trial, two Russian curators, Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, were declared guilty of “inciting religious hatred,” despite massive protest. Although they escaped the three-year prison sentence demanded by the prosecution, the judge declared them guilty and each had to pay a hefty fine. Critics fear the results of this trial are proof of cultural oppression in Russia.

They had showcased art banned from other Russian museums in an exhibition entitled “Forbidden Art” at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

Strong public interest in the case

Most media leans in favor of the Russian curators and sees the verdict as a sign of cultural oppression and censorship in Russia. However protesters from both sides were present outside the courthouse on the day of the ruling. Those offended by the paintings and who initiated the prosecution were mostly fundamentalist Russian Orthodox Christians while those against the prosecution consisted generally of artists and human rights activists. Multiple blogs and news agencies have covered the trial, ranging from arts websites to Russian interest magazines and blogs about human rights.

Extreme factions from both sides have voiced their protests. The New York Times reports that radical art performance group, Voina, released cockroaches into the courtroom, an act criticized by Samodurov. According to the Associated Press, extremist members of the prosecution threatened the curators in court, reminding them of the fate of Anna Alchuk, curator of “Caution: Religion!” who was found dead in Berlin in 2008.

Artists “incited religious hatred”

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

The works in question include an icon made of caviar, a depiction of Christ with a Mickey Mouse head, and an image of Christ with the McDonald’s sign and the words “This is my body”. There were also some non-Christian symbols included in the list of offensive images such as Chechen Marilyn and the Chinese invading the Kremlin. The exhibition spurred a lot of anger amongst religious groups.

In a video interview with Russia Today, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church explains that,

Orthodox believers, as citizens of their country…have the right to protect their sacred symbols. It was not the church that initiated this prosecution, but the people who were offended. The investigation proved that the art at the exhibit was offensive towards believers, and incited religious hatred.

The New York Times also mentioned, however, that Russian Orthodox Church officials believed that while displaying the paintings was criminal and the curators should be punished, they shouldn’t be imprisoned. Furthermore, the Russian Minister of Culture was critical of the prosecution.

A fight against censorship

The defendants’ view is that this exhibition was a critique of the materialism of Russian society and a fight against censorship of the arts, and had nothing to do with religion. Ironically, critics fear that results of the trial have shown that censorship is quite powerful in Russia.

Samodurov faced similar charges for a 2003 exhibition called “Caution: Religion!” He says the Church has reacted more strongly in the “Forbidden Art” trial.

Human rights and arts activists fully disapprove of the judge’s ruling, and are alarmed not only at the guilty verdict but at the fact that this trial even took place. The BBC News reported that thirteen renowned Russian artists signed an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev protesting the trial. Russia Today reports that,

…much more concerning [than escaping the jail sentence] for people in their circumstances is what they’ve seen as a curb from their freedom of expression.

In addition support from other artists and curators has been prevalent. The Associated Press reports that Marat Gelman, a Moscow gallery owner, declared his support for the pair by saying he would launch his own “Forbidden Art” exhibition should the ruling be in favor of the church. One sympathizer stated for the Associated Press before the verdict was declared,

‘I am very afraid for them,’ she said. ‘The church is now younger, more energetic.’

Some fear a return to a cultural oppression similar to that of Czarist Russia. Some suspect the Kremlin may have had a role in lightening the punishment of the curators to prevent tarnishing their international image. Critics have predicted that people will be wary of displaying and producing potentially offensive art in Russia, and this will make Russian art less competitive globally.

MM/KN

Related Topics: Russian artists, curators, venues – Moscow

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Top 20 Asian artists June 2010: Art Radar Asia’s most-searched artists

Posted by artradar on July 26, 2010


TOP ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS

In January this year, we published the article, “Top 17 Asian artists 2009: Art Radar’s most-searched artists, listing Art Radar Asia‘s most searched for artists to the end of 2009. This was so popular with our readers that we have decided to publish these results again. This list below highlights artists searched for between 30 June 2009 to 30 June 2010.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

Art Radar Asia receives an average of 27,000 page views a month. Our readers come to us in various ways: via links from other websites, from Twitter, facebook and other social media, from our email newsletter, from word of mouth referrals and, of course, via search engines.

Many readers find us by typing a specific artist name into Google or another search engine and finding a story written or image published by Art Radar Asia. Our analytics package tracks these search terms for us and we thought you might be interested in this data, too. The search terms used by readers when finding each artist are varied. For example, common search terms recorded for Japanese artist Takashi Murakami included: “takashi murakami”, “murakami”, “murakami takashi”, “takashi murakami art” and “takeshi murakami”.

Art Radar Asia‘s 20 most searched artists – the list

We can’t claim that this list is a reliable proxy for the most-searched Asian artists on the Internet overall (take a look at our notes at the bottom of this article). However, we do think the list throws up some fascinating data, particularly when compared with the 2009 results.

  1. Takashi Murakami – male Japanese anime painter and sculptor – 36,086  searches (34,000, December 2009)
  2. Shirin Neshat – female Iranian photographer – 4,532 searches (2,200, December 2009)
  3. Anish Kapoor – male British-Indian sculptor – 4,246 searches (3,500, December 2009)
  4. Marina Abramović – female New York-based Serbian performance artist – 3,092 searches (not listed, December 2009)
  5. Yoshitaka Amano – male Japanese anime artist – 829 searches (460, December 2009)
  6. Cao Fei – female Chinese photographer and new media artist – 672 searches
  7. Terence Koh – male Canadian-Chinese photographer, installation and multimedia artist – 634 searches
  8. I Nyoman Masriadi – male Indonesian painter – 625 searches
  9. AES+F – Russian photography and video collective – 521 searches
  10. Hiroshi Sugimoto – male Japanese photographer – 503 seaches
  11. Subodh Gupta – male Indian painter, installation artist – 417 searches
  12. Ori Gersht – male Israeli photographer – 408 searches
  13. Ronald Ventura – male Filipino painter – 393 searches
  14. Farhad Ahrarnia – male Iranian thread artist – 377 searches
  15. Farhard Moshiri – male Iranian painter – 363 searches
  16. Jitish Kallat – male Indian painter – 329 searches
  17. Gao Xingjian – male Chinese-French ink artist – 301 searches
  18. Bharti Kher – female Indian-British painter, sculptor and installation artist – 270 searches
  19. Shahzia Sikander – female Pakistani miniaturist – 264 searches
  20. Zhang Huan – male Chinese performance artist – 237 searches

How has the top 5 changed?

As with the last list, published at the end of 2009, Takashi Murakami is still holding the title spot with more than 36,000 searches. This is compared with 34,000 in 2009’s list. Shirin Neshat and Anish Kapoor have switched places since the previous list, although the difference between their numbers is somewhat insignificant. Yoshitaka Amano is new to the top 5, moving up to 5th place from 6th place in 2009, perhaps due to the 2010 announcement that he has established a film production company called Studio Deva Loka, in addition to directing a 3D anime named Zan. These announcements followed a small solo tour of his artwork. Marina Abramović has surged into the top 5 this time around, particularly notable as she did not appear on the 2009 list. This is most likely due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”.

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

How has the list changed since it was first published?

The following artists have returned since the 2009 list was published, but many have moved up or down by one or two places: Cao Fei (4, 2009); I Nyoman Masriadi (5, 2009); Ori Gersht (7, 2009); Terence Koh (8, 2009); AES+F (9, 2009); Ronald Ventura (10, 2009); Hiroshi Sugimoto (11, 2009); Farhad Moshiri (12, 2009); Subodh Gupta (13, 2009); Farhard Moshiri (12, 2009) ; Farhad Ahrarnia (14, 2009); Gao Xingjian (15, 2009); Jitish Kallat (16, 2009).

There are some new additions: Marina Abramović, perhaps due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”; Shahzia Sikander, whose medium has recently become popular with collectors and critics and who has herself surged into prominence with a win at ART HK 10 ; Bharti Kher, whose works are currently auctioning for large sums; and Zhang Huan, who has had a number of permanent sculptures installed in US cities this year, and whose company designed the permanent public sculpture for the US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Only Chinese ink artist Wucius Wong doesn’t reappear. His surge in popularity in 2009 may have been due to the retrospective exhibition, “Myriad Visions of Wucius Wong“, at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Preferred media of most-searched artists: miniatures and performance art rising in popularity

Most of the arists work in various media but in this list we have tagged them with the media they are best known for. Six of the artists are known primarily for painting, compared with only five in the 2009 list, and once again, this list is dominated by photographers, new media artists and sculptors. Miniature painting and performance art seem to be new topics of interest for readers.

Artist Age

Most of the artists were born in the 1960s and 1970s, as you would expect for a contemporary art website.

Interestingly, Shirin Neshat (Iranian photographer), Anish Kapoor (British Indian sculptor), Marina Abramović (Serbian performance artist), Yoshitaka Amano (Japanese anime), all born before 1960, were listed as number 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. Of course, due to their age and time spent working in the arts, they each have large bodies of work which are consistently being exhibited, collected and discussed.

Artist Gender

male 14 (13, 2009); female 5 (3, 2009); mixed collective 1 (1, 2009)

In the year to June 2010, there were more female artists on the list though men still dominated (approx. 75 percent). Those female artists who were on both lists appeared higher up this year than last.

Breakdown of artist nationalities

Chinese 4 (4, 2009); Indian 4 (4, 2009); Iranian 3 (3, 2009); Japanese 3 (3, 2009); Serbian 1 (not listed, 2009); Israeli 1 (1, 2009); Indonesian (1, 2009); Filipino (1, 2009); Russian (1, 2009)

As you can see, this result is almost identical to the previous result, with the edition of one Serbian artist (Marina Abramović, Serbian performance artist). Once again, artists from China and India are among the most searched nationality, despite fears the Indian art market would be slow to recover after the 2008-2009 global art market turndown.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Notes
This list is not a reliable proxy for the most-searched artists on the internet overall. Here is why: If we have not written a story on or tagged this artist, the search engines will not bring us traffic for this search term and it won’t appear on our traffic analysis stats page. As we have only been up for 18 months it is quite possible that we have not yet covered some higly-searched artists. And even if we have referenced an artist on our site and the artist is highly-searched, the searcher will not come to us unless we have a good page ranking for the story on the search engine.  For example if the story is, say, after page 4 of the search engine results, the searcher probably won’t find our story and will not appear in our stats. Despite these limitations the data is likely to be a reliable indicator for certain trends. Finally even if we have a story and the story is well-ranked, it may be that other stories on the same page are more alluring than ours and readers do not find their way to us.

KN/KCE

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What is happening in Russian video art? Find out with Olga Chernysheva at ICA and Whitespace London January 2009

Posted by artradar on January 1, 2009


Olga Chernysheva Moscow Area

Olga Chernysheva Moscow Area

 

 

 

 

 

RUSSIAN VIDEO ART LONDON

Russian video art is on our radar. With Dasha Zhukova currently showing 12 leading video artists on giant outdoor screens in Moscow and Russian video artist group AES+F experiencing meteoric success over the last 18 months, interest in electronic and new media art in and from Russia is on the rise. Now there is an opportunity to learn more about Russian video art by talking with and experiencing the works of artist Olga Chernysheva in London this winter.

Moscow-based Russian artist Olga Chernysheva, a graduate of the Moscow Cinema Academy and the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, captures quotidian life in post-communist Russia. 

Olga Chernysheva talk and video show at ICA January 13 2009

On 13 January 2009 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts she discusses her practice in the context of Russia today, and shows several of her video works.

In The Train (2003), the director’s camera traverses the cars of an intercity Moscow train; Anonymous (2004) portrays a middle-aged woman and a drunken man each having a private moment in a public park; and March (2005) captures the dynamics between young male cadets, scantily clad teenage cheerleaders and band members performing before a corporate event. The programme also includes her newest video, Untitled After Sengai (2008).

 

ICA Olga Chernysheva talk details

Olga Chernysheva From the Deputy

Olga Chernysheva From the Deputy

 

 

 

 

 

White Space gallery exhibition of Olga Chernysheva photographs to January 17 2009

White Space gallery presents Acquaintance. a  new series of photographs by Russian artist Olga Chernysheva. A series of new drawings, a video and a sculptural installation will also be exhibited.

Chernysheva’s work frequently expresses a social interest in relation to how her country is changing. For instance, in her Moscow Area series she might highlight those things frequently relegated to the edges of society and consciousness, such as a group of elderly in a home, an old lady entering a church to pray, or the queues of people entering and exiting the Moscow underground metro system.

Likewise, monuments from the time of Communism are explored in the Alley of Cosmonauts series in terms of their intended meaning as symbols of power and the advancement of the Communist state, versus their current semi-ruinous condition – in what also seems to be either a muddy and disorganized building site – as remnants of a previous civilization, dotted amongst a new society growing around them.

Whilst one can frequently read disillusionment, loss and isolation in Chernysheva’s images, one also sees signs of life and renewal, perseverance and warmth in what they depict. Her films and photographs transcend their documentary function, investigating instead the very fabric of the individuality, stoicism and self-sufficiency of the Russian character, meditating at the same time on the role of the artist in a time of change.

White Space Gallery

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Russian new media artists at MOMA Moscow where interest in electronic art grows

Posted by artradar on September 21, 2008


 

 

SURVEY NEW MEDIA ART RUSSIAN ARTISTS to 19 October 2008

CRITI-POP

Dates: September 19 – October 19, 2008
Location: Moscow Museum of Modern Art at Ermolaevsky lane, 17 (floors 2-5)

“It seems incredible, but interactive and communicative art in Russia is practiced only by Chernyshev, Shulgin and Efimov, working together or individually” says curator and gallerist Elena Selina. “Recently, interest in new media art has increased in Moscow. Not only professionals, but also collectors and the public, have overcome inner barriers that prevented (their acceptance) of the new media language”.

Presented by the Moscow Department of Culture, Russian Acacademy of Arts, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art with XL Gallery, the CRITI-POP exhibition showcases three artists, two creative groups, forty works and plenty of themes including information overflow, reconstruction of identity, genetic pop-engineering, the poetry of stock-exchange deals and news broadcasts, aesthetics of data transmission and science art.

Interactive installations by Vladislav Efimov and Aristarkh Chernyshev, who worked together from 1996 to 2005, bring us art that deals with genetic engineering, statistical modeling of processes, computer games and robotics. The viewer becomes a hero of the work — a colleague of an insane scientist modeling DNA, a creator of 3-D avatars, a conqueror of robots or a terminator hunting for artists.

Electroboutique  (Aristarkh Chernyshev and Alexei Shulgin since 2003) is a unique art group that unites artists, developers of electronics, programmers and designers. Using techniques taken from social psychology and perception theory, the artists transmit their critical message directly into the unconscious of the viewers and entertain them with bright colors and garish forms. In his solo projects, Aristarkh Chernyshev creates art from information streams like TV-channels, Internet-news or stock-exchange tapes while the solo work of Alexei Shulgin  looks at our addiction to technologies and gives variants of creative rescue. One of the historic exhibits is a legendary rock band 386 DX, made of an outdated computer playing ever-young hits of British-American and Russian rock.

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Russian collective AES+F talks to the Art Newspaper about their meteoric success over the last year

Posted by artradar on August 1, 2008


Last Riot AES+F

Last Riot AES+F

 

RUSSIAN TOURING SHOW 2008 On the eve of their latest show, Russian collective AES+F discusses multiculturalism, the market and their new work.

One of the most talked about works at the last Venice Biennale was a slick digitalised three-screen video in the basement of the Russian Pavilion in which a host of beautiful youths worthy of any Gap ad engaged in stylised slow motion battles in a fantasy landscape to the strains of Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung”.

The piece was Last Riot by the Moscow-based collective AES+F—the name comes from the initials of members Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch and Evgeny Svyatsky, who joined forces in 1987, with photographer Vladimir Fridkes arriving in 1995.

Although the group were no strangers to the art world, this epic, bleakly futuristic extravaganza has catapulted it onto the international stage. They have just had a major exhibition at Macro in Rome and this month they open their first UK solo show at RS&A which then tours to Les Abattoirs in Toulouse, the Salzburg Museum and the Ormeau Baths in Belfast.

The Art Newspaper: Did you intend Last Riot to be a criticism or a celebration of our high-tech, perfection-obsessed world?AES+F: It has some kind of criticism but we try not to be very didactic in our criticism so it is both admiration and criticism—all the time we try to be on the border as we have very mixed feelings about what is happening now.

 

TAN: It created a weird world where technology and fashion fused with direct references to art history.AES+F: We wanted to make compositions reminiscent of mannerist and Baroque painting and especially Caravaggio but also to construct a virtual world which refers to contemporary virtual culture and virtual reality and all these kinds of computer games, video games and Hollywood movies; it’s a landscape that is continuous throughout and goes from a desert at night to a snowy morning in the mountains.

 

TAN: What is it about mannerism and the Baroque that appeals to you?AES+F: We feel that contemporary visual culture is very similar to that of the Baroque: everything is extremely expressive, figurative and very visual and founded on images and at the same time very decadent. We try to make it seductive but when you make it too beautiful it begins to be ugly so we are also trying to establish the border between ugliness and beauty. It is also not clear who is the good guy and who is the bad guy and it is very important to us that it should not be clear.

 

TAN: Last Riot has spawned a series of pristine white sculptures which you are now showing in the UK for the first time.AES+F: We are premiering the whole series of eight aluminium figures painted with white enamel paint that is usually used for cars. They come from Last Riot but in the Last Riot prints and videos they are just normal figures. In these sculptures they became mutants, they are part monsters: for example one girl has the tail of a dinosaur.

 

TAN: Another work that you are showing for the first time is Europe-Europe, a series of porcelain figurines in the 18th-century style of amorous couples. But instead of presenting frolicking shepherds and shepherdesses, you depict more controversial contemporary couplings: a skinhead and a Turkish girl, a blonde female police officer in full riot gear undressing for an Arab teenager, a western manager and three Chinese toy factory workers—what is the intention of this piece?AES+F: This is generally a very interesting question for us, what is Europe now? And what is so-called multiculturalism? The task was to put some questions about contemporary European identity and so we made this kind of impossible utopia—and the question is, can these communities live together culturally, or not? So we wanted to present this utopia of possibility, this idyllic situation.

 

TAN: Last Riot and the large sculptures are created by, and use the language of, digital technology but these new pieces rely on more traditional, handcrafted techniques.AES+F: We just use any techniques according to the ideas of the project so we can use very traditional bronze sculptures and porcelain and also digitally manipulated video and prints. They are all tools.

 

TAN: Russia is now becoming a major player in the global art market. What do you feel about that?AES+F: It’s just the beginning of the boom—it is going to get bigger and bigger. New private museums are opening and also state museums, and the public interest inside Russia is growing very fast. Step by step these new rich people are turning from collecting antiques to collecting contemporary and also international contemporary art. Hopefully after, the art that is just marketable will follow more deep and serious engagements.

 

See (in new window)

  • Full interview from The Art Newspaper here
  • Youtube video of Last Riot here

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