Haunted Moscow

Dmitry Gutov, Andrei Filippov, Anatoly Osmolovsky in the Moscow Pavilion at the 9th Shanghai Biennale
Date(s) 03 October — 31 December 2012
Address Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
About the Project
Curator: Nikolai Molok

Stella Art Foundation is honoured to organize the Moscow Pavilion at the 9th Shanghai Biennale.

The 9th Shanghai Biennale will for the first time be held in the space of a converted power station, which has been renamed the “Power Station of Art”, and is destined to become China’s National Museum of Contemporary Art. The former power station already hosted the Pavilion of the Future at the Shanghai Expo in 2010.

The title of the 2012 Biennale is Reactivation and its theme is energy in the broadest sense (the energy and fuel resources which foment wars, heat energy, interpersonal energy, and the energy of art). The curator group for the Biennale is headed by Qiu Chijie and also includes Boris Groys, Jens Hoffman and Johnson Chang (foreigners have been invited to serve as curators in 2012 for the first time in the 16 years since the Biennale was first held). Dozens of artists from various countries have been invited to take part in the main section of the Biennale, including Olga Chernysheva, Boris Mikhailov, Vadim Fishkin and Anton Vidokle.

The structure of the Biennale has also been changed. In addition to its main section the Biennale will include city pavilions (similar to the national pavilions at the Venice Biennale). A total of 30 cities will be represented, including Istanbul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Berlin, Mumbai, Dusseldorf, Lyons and Barcelona. Stella Art Foundation, the organizer of exhibitions in the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, is presenting the Moscow Pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale. The Haunted Moscow exhibition will show works by Dmitry Gutov, Andrei Filippov, Anatoly Osmolovsky and students of the “Base” institute.

Prior to the opening of the Shanghai Biennale, Stella Kesaeva, the Commissioner of the Moscow Pavilion, said: “Stella Art Foundation is honoured to have been selected to organize the Moscow Pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale. Our Foundation has much experience presenting Russian art on the international art scene at the highest level. We have worked and continue to work on exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, and we have presented Russian artists in various museums around the world, including the Louvre and the Historical Museum in Vienna. For Shanghai we have prepared the Haunted Moscow project, curated by Nikolai Molok. I hope that the project will prove of interest to the public at the Shanghai Biennale.”

The theme at the Russian Pavilion will be the 20-year search by Russian contemporary art for a new national identity, national history and, ultimately, a national artistic style. To what extent does contemporary Russian art relate to world art, can it be integrated with world art, should it “speak Russian” and is it capable of “translation”?

In this context, the Russian artist, left to his own devices, has to assume non-traditional roles — as critic, art historian, theorist and pedagogue. He has wide scope for manipulation, and particularly for manipulation of history: in the post-historical society, models for organization of the future are found in the past. As Boris Groys has said: “The new is born from the archive”.

Uncertainty breeds fear. Fear of the unknown breeds ghosts. After the end of Communism, Moscow (and the whole of the former Soviet space) became a zone visited by ghosts of the past. And the ghosts are extremely varied — Soviet, avant-garde and even Byzantine.

The exhibition curator Nikolai Molok, says:

“The exhibition includes works by Andrei Filippov, Dmitry Gutov, Anatoly Osmolovsky and his students.

Andrei Filippov returns in his search for national history to the idea of Moscow as the Third Rome — he insists that Russian history can only exist in the context of the Byzantine cultural tradition. However, by bringing metaphors from the revolutionary past into his work he emphasizes that, in Russian consciousness, the model of empire has become indissolubly linked with the Soviet model of empire.

Dmitry Gutov, rewriting the history of aesthetic thought, reanimates the figure of the Marxist philosopher Mikhail Lifshitz, who is known for his critique of modernism and abstractionism.

Anatoly Osmolovksy is creating a theoretical and scientific-educational periodical, Baza (“Base”), and a study institute by the same name, where, similarly to the VKhUTEMAS professors of the 1920, he teaches students the history, theory and practice of contemporary art.”