From Russia with love

Friday 20 Jul 2012

An exhibition dedicated to the relationship between Russian history, art and architecture opens this summer in Venice

V-A-C Foundation, a Moscow based institution committed to the presentation and production of Russian Contemporary Art, will be presenting the Way of the Enthusiasts exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia this year. The gallery will be dedicated to the last fifty years of Russian art, exploring the relationship between art and architecture during crucial historical and cultural moments in post WWII Russia.

The exhibition is divided into three stages and will attempt to guide us through the turbulent history of the country, starting from the establishment of the soviet housing project in the 1954, to the new generation of artists who appeared after the collapse of the USSR.

A focal point of the art show will be the road Shosse Entusiastov,(the way of the Enthusiasts) a Moscow landmark that connects the city centre with the residential districts. The impressive name conveys a sense of grandeur however the road now leads to decaying buildings and faded residences stripped of any trace of the Soviet urban housing projects.

The exhibition will start with the fatal transformation of the Soviet urban landscape which originated in 1954 after the leader of the soviet party, Khrushchevev, gave a speech unveiling the development of ‘Microrayons', an idealized model for suburban living. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity to integrate the social with the ideological. Houses began to be pre-fabricated in factories and all architectural competition was eliminated whilst the new Soviet housing schemes dominated the landscape. However, the breakdown of the Microrayon infrastructure in the 1970's provided artists from the Moscow the first opportunity to experiment with urban spaces and use them as sources of inspiration. The V-A-C Foundation will focus on art movements of The Gnezdo Group and the SZ group who were developing alternative art activity in Moscow.

The second section of the exhibition will look at the two decades that followed, where the fragile construction of an architectural and social utopia was further swept away by the whirlwind development of the 1990s. The breakdown of the Soviet Union and the new capitalist way of living pushed art into the streets. The curators will show us that there were many attempts by artists to erect themselves on the sites of the absent or discredited monuments, adding a new twist to the relationship between art, space and architecture.

The final part of the gallery will unveil artists who have strived to eradicate governmental control over space and re-appropriate public places. The work of Sergey Sapozhnikov will be displayed, who deliberately constructed installations in the ruined outskirts of the city Rostov- on-Don to refer to the potential of liberation from the structure of organised space and codified behaviour. The works of Anatasisa Ryaboce, David Ter-Oganian and Arseniy Zhilyaev will also be exhibited.

The exhibiton will be at the Casa dei Tr Oci, Venice from the 27th August to the 25th November. To find out more about the La Biennale di Venezia please click here.

Elena Collins

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