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That Obscure Object of Art

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That Obscure Object of Art
Highlights of contemporary Russian art from the Stella Art Foundation

Curator: Vladimir Levashov 

Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico
June 4 – October 5, 2009

53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Collateral event

In the majestic surroundings of Ca’ Rezzonico, the Museum of Eighteenth-Century Venetian art and one of Venice’s splendid palazzos, the Stella Art Foundation, in collaboration with the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, presents ‘That Obscure Object of Art’, an exhibition featuring nearly 70 works from the Stella Art Foundation collection. Curated by Vladimir Levashov, ‘That Obscure Object of Art’ displays works by a plethora of prominent contemporary Russian artists including Yuri Albert, Ivan Chuikov, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, Boris Orlov, Anatoly Osmolovsky, and Alexander Ponomarev who will be present with his submarine ‘SubTiziano’.

Contemporary Russian art emerged from and shaped itself in an environment of double cultural isolation. Its habitat was an underground setting within the Soviet art system which was in turn encapsulated in a country completely cut off from the outside world. Although this hermetic context resulted in an art which was unique in its structure, its strategies and its form-generation process, it nevertheless perceived itself as an organic part of the global art movement. The complexity of its being was largely ignored at international exhibitions where it was inevitably displayed in an extremely simplified manner: during Soviet times, as a naive humanistic impulse towards political and artistic freedom; after the perestroika, as an artistic symbol of the democratization of a post-totalitarian country. 

Vladimir Levashov, curator of ‘That Obscure Object of Art’ comments: ‘Our most prominent goal with this exhibition is to put forward an alternative to the narrowing and one-dimensional prevalent exhibiting practices, by providing one of many possible "self-portraits" of the Russian art of the 1970s-2000s. Our presentation will shed light on the multiplicity of this art which is in the end an obscure object with a complex inner structure.

In October 2008, Stella Art Foundation used a similar concept for an exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which was dedicated to the Soviet Universe. The Venetian version is shifting the focus from content to form and internal structures. The exhibition portrays contemporary Russian art as a practice of constructing multiple worlds, of weaving never-ending stories. This narrative flux dissolves the boundaries between authors and their characters while subjects and myths of motley origins form bizarre groupings and textual fragments and images interlock.

‘That Obscure Object of Art’ will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue in English, text by Vladimir Levashov, prefaces by Daniel Birnbaum and Stella Kesaeva.

List of artists featured in ‘That Obscure Object of Art’
Yuri Albert, Yuri Avvakumov, Vagrich Bakhchanyan, Gor Chahal, Ivan Chuikov, Alexander Djikia, Dmitry Gutov, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, Vadim Kosmatschev, Alexander Kosolapov, Vladislav Mamyshev (Monroe), Boris Orlov, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Alexander Ponomarev, Dmitry Alexandrovich Prigov, Larisa Rezun-Zvezdochetova, Leonid Sokov, Leonid Tishkov, Vadim Zakharov, Konstantin Zvezdochetov. Alexander Ponomarev's project ‘Submarine SubTiziano’ will be situated on the Canale Grande, in front of Ca' Bernardo. The complete list of works is available upon request.

Press days
3rd June: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4th and 5th June: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Public Exhibition
4th June – 5th October 2009, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ticket office 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), closed on Tuesday. Admission with Museum ticket.

Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of XVIII Century Art, Fondamento Rezzonico – Dorsoduro, 3136
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For all press enquiries please contact:

For all International media enquiries, please contact Brunswick Arts:

Klara M. Piza and Nicolas Smirnoff on stellaartfoundation@brunswickgroup.com or tel. +49 30 20 67 33 68 and +44 20 7936 1275

Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia:
Monica da Cortà Fumei, Riccardo Bon, Silvia Negretti, Sofia Rinaldi on pressmusei@comune.venezia.it or tel. +39 041 27476 14/18/81

For all Russian media enquiries, please contact:
Anna Svergun on artpr@svergun.ru or tel. +7 916 609 4115

In collaboration with

General partners of the exhibition

Media partners

Publications in press

In plain Russian // Tatiana Markina, Kommersant, 09.06.2009

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