This exhibition furthers our commitment to showing works from the Stella Art collection, which have not previously been put on display at the Foundation. What are offered to the public gaze are works created at various times works by nine artists: Vagrich Bakhchanyan, Sergei Volkov, Dmitry Gutov, Ana Zhelud, Vadim Zakharov, Igor Makarevich & Elena Elagina, Boris Orlov and Dmitry Tsvetkov.
The exhibition owes its name to the installation by Anna Zhelud, The Establishment of Culture, which is among its most prominent exhibits. As the name suggests, the exhibition space is ironically styled after the interior of a cultural institution of the sort that really existed in not-so-distant times, a place inhabited by a special atmosphere which would be almost impossible to reproduce in today’s context. The public area of such institutions was invariably adorned with portraits of prominent personalities from the spheres of politics, science and art, busts of military leaders, fine art works in various genres, all sorts of teaching aids (some of a most surprising nature) and similar items. The area of permanent residence of the administrators who worked there would be equipped with standard-issue furniture, serving as the support for a multitude of ornamental plants, some of them creeping up the walls. Any vacant wall space was quickly colonized by calendars, photographs, certificates and other family graphics.
Alternative art of the Soviet period and contemporary post-Soviet art have been passionate in their striving to simulate the artefacts of communist ideology. Their objective was to develop the logic of that ideology to obvious absurdity. Exhibition projects dedicated to such art followed suit, giving preference to a “total installation” style that mimicked the characteristic style of Soviet public displays. Such was the immediate post-Soviet, purely exhibition-based, retrospective-deconstructive trend of reflection. However, that trend has already become a part of history and is now an object of reflection for the next generation.
Our exhibition is a kind of low-key homage and portrayal of this extended period of deconstruction of Soviet and Russian art, an attempt to formalize, in neutral terms, the residual elements of its language and the half-erased traces of its strategic designs.