“iPhuturity?” – Futurologia and Russian Utopias at THE GARAGE – CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY CULTURE, Moscow

An interesting announcement of two conjoint exhibitions [1] in the Moscow Garage CCC reached me: For all of you visiting Moscow until May 23, 2010,  this is a longer explannatory text sent to me, thanks  by Daria Beglova, PR Coordinator of THE GARAGE – CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY CULTURE (– Gregor Sedlag):

Futurologia: '3G International' by Electroboutique (Aristarkh Chernyshev, Alexei Shulgin in collaboration with Roman Minaev),courtesy o the artists and private collection

The two exhibitions Futurologia and Russian Utopias at the Garage present two separate projects, differentiated by their concepts, selected artists and curatorial approaches. However, at the same time, the two exhibitions form a relationship with one another. The artists in both exhibitions present different projections of the future influenced by the past – the future through the prism of the past.

The Garage invited Hervé Mikaeloff to curate an exhibition of contemporary Russian art from a uniquely international perspective. Through the overall concept and chosen artists in Futurologia, Hervé has highlighted many current Russian preoccupations which are being explored by artists working today.  The concept inspired young and up and coming Garage curators Yulia Aksenova and Tatiana Volkova to comment from a Russian perspective with an independent exhibition – Russian Utopias.


The linkage between the great Russian avant-garde artists such as Malevich is strong and Hervé wanted to show this rich heritage alongside new, large scale contemporary work.  Over 100 years ago, the avant-garde artists imagined alternative models of the future through their work.  Initially, the artists labelled themselves ‘futurists’, the name Avant-garde came retrospectively.

The two paintings by Kazimir Malevich underpin this concept. Malevich, known for his almost messianic visions for the future, developed a Suprematist school of thought, which intended to build new future. This future was represented through geometric abstraction on Malevich’s canvases. Later on, Malevich moved to figurative style of painting, where faceless peasants were meant to represent the new generation. Futurologia exhibits two paintings, each representing these styles, and sets out to explore both abstraction and figuration in Russian contemporary art.

Therefore, the exhibition has two sections – Science and Fiction which explores abstraction and Change and Permanence which references figuration.  This formalistic curatorial approach reveals how different artists respond to contemporary society either through abstract or figurative means. It also echoes the two directions of Malevich’s oeuvre, while posing questions on how these two approaches forecast or imagine a future relevant to Russian everyday reality.

It highlights the way the legacy of avant-garde has played a critical role in the formation of Russian contemporary art, as artists in the exhibition return to it through re-assessment and analysis, borrowing its visual language and interpreting the ideas in a contemporary context.

The two different sections of the exhibition explore some uneasy projections for the future. As the section titles imply, the artists interpretations vary from the definitive assertions of ‘science’ or ‘permanence’ to the vague ‘fiction’ and ‘change’.  This suggests a re-assessment of the past and its failures, including the failures of the avant-garde’s futuristic projections, coupled with their investigation of the contemporary society.

Hervé’s seemingly formal division of the exhibition into abstraction and figuration underpins deeper considerations for why these artists have decided to use such approaches for imaging the future.  The exhibition acts in conversation with Russian Utopias, showing both French and Russian approaches to curating Russian art.

Russian Utopias

Russian Utopias focuses only on the theme of Utopia, and the curators have shown works by both established and emerging artists spanning the last 20 years, it includes existing work and newly commissioned work.  The exhibition demonstrates how the concept of utopia has evolved over time, and has been subject to radically different interpretations from being regarded as an archaeological monument to acting as a vehicle to imagine an alternative future. By tracing the development of these ideas in contemporary art, the exhibition explores how utopian ideals and dreams are an important part of the Russian character and society today as much as the past.

The avant-garde was not only an artistic movement, but also a philosophical one which aimed to construct an alternative and ideal future to cope with everyday reality.  By exploring Utopia as a desire for the ideal, the curators seek to unveil the difference between the desired and the actual reality, as an aspect of human nature.

The exhibition is divided into two parts, the first focuses on the past, the second on the future. These two sections will be shown at different times through a re-hanging of the work part way through the exhibition.

The artists in the first section of the exhibition Tributes On the ruins of Great Utopias, explore the notion of an ideal world, the transformative influence of the Soviet Project and the Project’s legacy in contemporary Russia. The artists provide a very different presentation of utopia, presenting it as a myth which needs to be destroyed; or as a trauma, in which the collective is merged with individual experience; or as a vehicle for retrospective imagination.

The artists in the second section Future from Here, use utopian rhetoric to create alternative models of the future. The models vary from hi-tech futuristic representations of the city scapes or bio-technological achievements to negative, dystopian, outlooks. Other projections take various forms including escape, dream and paradise.


One Response to ““iPhuturity?” – Futurologia and Russian Utopias at THE GARAGE – CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY CULTURE, Moscow”

  1. recursos Says:


    PHUTURAMA » Ausstellungen…

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