Past SVOBODA | 2011
2011 | 2010 |
Room 4
Kiril Ass + Anna Ratafieva Guards
Room 3
Peter Belyi The Memoirs of a Spade
Room 5
Maxim Ksuta 16072010
Room 2
Anya Zholud Parquet and Scaffolding
Room 1
Misha Most Article 29
Room 6
Dmitry Gutov The Pince-nez of Gramsci
Room 7
Roman Sakin The Room
Room 8
Julia Zastava Inside the thing
Room 9
Irina Korina Zakluchenie
Room 10
Alexander Brodsky Untitled
Room 11
Rostan Tavasiev Homeland
Room 12
Yuri Avvakumov Mined sky

Exhibition of Russian contemporary art

Recent conflicts between the artistic and ruling elites in Russia touched upon the issue of the political and religious engagement of artists and their ethical responsibility for their work. These episodes provoked ongoing and passionate debates about artistic freedom in which all the main firebands found themselves involved. Once again, one of the most painful and inescapable subjects of Russian historical reality has emerged from these debates.

Svoboda means ‘freedom’ in Russian – written in Roman characters it loses the fulfillment of its meaning and becomes just a word. It’s a metaphor for the perception of freedom in Russia; the combination of discrete letters turns the conception into abstraction: the word is still there, but the meaning of it has slipped away. This exhibition is an attempt to investigate the notion of freedom in Russia in a non-verbal imaginary way.

Thinking about freedom and the inexhaustibility of the subject emboding such a complexity of meanings we have focused on the aspect of spatial freedom. In a Russian context spatial freedom is associated with the possibility of moving, going abroad, which was extremely problematic during the former epoch in Russian-speaking countries. Nowadays spatial freedom implies not only the possibility of going abroad but the virtual overcoming of the space through accessible information portals. There are no limits either to thought or the passage into other spaces by means of imagination. Thus, spatial freedom ingenuously verges on information, as technological accessibility of information and freedom of expression exist as basic indicators of individual freedom. Art as the apogee of the freedom of expression has come to be in our time a measure of a free society.

Besides the philosophical and ethical aspects involved, the exhibition explores the interaction of space and art. Intervention into the space is conducted through the overcoming of certain boundaries in the search for an organic synergy with the context. Liberating possibilities embedded within the space, artists explore meanings and restraints of spatial freedom, which evoke such terms as borders and integrity, isolation and unity, void and fulfillment, pressure and lightness, volume and flatness, and spatial memory.

Incompleteness of the space restoration allows additional freedom in the spatial interference and the art experiment, and provides opportunities for each artist to create a site-specific piece of art in a self-chosen media. Every single project shown here is an artist’s expression of the perception of freedom.

Incompleteness of the space restoration allows additional freedom in the spatial interference and the art experiment, and provides opportunities for each artist to create a site-specific piece of art in a self-chosen media. Every single project shown here is an artist’s contemplation of freedom.

Analyzing the expected site-specific works, we can outline the following tendencies:
The artists are preoccupied with the theme of disintegration in different variations; this is developed through shapelessness and various war references. Among the materials used in the installations, there is prevalence of ones that decompose and of metal. All this entails impenitence and isolation.

A basic investigation of the subject ‘freedom’ is conducted through various spatial restrictions. The artists construct obstacles, objects jammed in space and objects endangering and blocking motion.

Another inclination perceivable in the content of the artworks is a concealment of the intended expression. Wrapping and partial effacing of the works imply an attempt to avoid any definite statements, thus indicating an interstitial state of mind and an uncertainty of the artistic position.

From among all this mostly “forced” imagery in the works of art, freedom does slip out. This can be seen, for instance, in the artists’ self-removal from the work and in a conscious detachment from the creative process. Acceptance of the fact that freedom is inaccessible and that its existence doesn’t depend on our awareness allows a certain level of liberation. The inevitable search for beauty and its definition somehow embodies the aspiration to freedom.

Nevertheless, the main subject arising from the examination of freedom is the predominance of the past. The heritage doesn’t allow the desired release; instead it oppresses with its Soviet imagery and more profound genetic background. The legacy of the past is evidently the most essential source of both inspiration and obsession for artists. Through rejection, criticism and elaboration of the past, the artists construct new scenes and realities of contemporary Russian art and pave the way for inescapable self–determination and the rediscovery of lost meanings.

Daria Khan curator