That Obscure Object of Art
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.
The exhiibition is intended to cast light on the wide range of aspects and languages in Russian art over the past thirty years, a ‘dark object’ with a complex internal structure, offering one of its many possible self-portraits.
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.