20 March — 16 May 2015
From a brick sculpture that recalls the recently redrawn map of the Ukraine to footage of young Moscovites filmed on a mobile phone, the display presents the work of contemporary Russian and Ukranian artists. We have invited artists working in different media to explore whether art made today in their countries can be both politically engaged and have aesthetic value of its own. Zhanna Kadyrova (Kiev) and ZIP collective (Krasnodar) will build their installations on site, while Nikita Shokhov (Moscow) and Evgeny Granilshchikov (Moscow) will present their photo and video works.
20 March — 16 May 2014
Curated by Sergey Khachaturov
Photographs by Sophia Schorr-Kon
Borderlands studies the fault lines of art and politics, challenging divisions between the territories of aesthetics and activism. Emerging and established artists from Russia and Ukraine present work concerned with change and conflict in their current political and social situations. The works on display range in media, encompassing film, sculpture, photography and textiles, yet they all share a concern with outer form as well as inner meaning. Named after marginal territories that overlap with imprecision, the exhibition addresses the contemporary shift of borders between art and action, art and activism, art and life.
Central to the exhibition is a piece by Zhanna Kadyrova originally created from the brick wall of a former Soviet factory in the Ukraine and exhibited at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev and the Architekturzentrum in Vienna. For the exhibition at GRAD the artist recreated the piece inside the gallery.
Untitled, 2014 brick wall, wallpaper
The outline of Zhanna Kadyrova’s sculpture is deliberately reminiscent of the shape of Ukraine; its rough edges and fallen bricks suggest the annexation of Crimea and its economic collapse. One side of the wall is lined with original Soviet wall paper, the other is blackened from fire damage. Created in 2014, as Russia commenced its military intervention in Ukraine, Kadyrova’s piece reflects the uneasy atmosphere of this time. Its scale also recalls the tradition of monumental sculpture which has been largely discredited in recent decades. Kadyrova thus engages in dialogue not only with her forerunners, the artists of the Russian avant-garde, but also with prominent contemporary practitioners such as Tony Cragg or Hans Haacke
Spring Fashion, 2015, textiles, mixed media
Brain-twister, Elementary Workbook, 2015, printed paper brochure
The work of the ZIP group functions as interactive art, involving the viewer both in a game and a performance that encourage tolerance and the acceptance of ‘otherness’. The costumes, designed as a peaceful protest gesture, reference the agitprop experiments of the highly politicised leftist theatre, from the aesthetics of Malevich’s opera Victory over the Sun to the utility clothing of constructivists Rodchenko and Stepanova. The brochure ‘Brain-twister’, ostensibly a schoolbook of educational tests, recalls both the theatre of the absurd and the work of the Fluxus movement, offering the viewer charades and puzzles that are clearly unsolvable.
Without Dictatorship of the Gaze, 2013, lightboxes
Nikita Shokhov’s series of photographs subverts the capacity of the photographic image to represent its subject from a single perspective. In the place of taking an instant photograph, he scans a scene for 41 seconds, producing a fragmented and distorted result. This process models a static image in a dynamic way, enabling the viewer to see the subject of the work from multiple viewpoints. Shokhov often selects official demonstrations and political marches as his subject matter, drawing attention to how such events are presented. Such an experiment, casting doubt on the veracity of images and highlighting their potential for manipulation recalls not only the photomontage tradition created by Vertov and Eisenstein but also the more recent work of Gerhard Richter.
Courbet’s Funeral, 2014, video filmed on mobile phone duration: 11’33 min
Evgeny Granilshchikov’s film examines the influence of the contemporary political and social situation on individuals in Russia who are interrogating their own historical heritage. The work is a video-collage composed of sequences filmed on a mobile phone. Incorporating both real-life footage and performance, Granilshchikov makes it difficult for viewers to distinguish one from the other, thus involving them in the creative act. The charged poetic atmosphere and non-linear editing recall the work of experimental film-makers such as Jean-Luc Godard or Miguel Gomes, as well as the new generation of artists working at the intersection of film and video art.
This spring our events will address all things contemporary. Keep checking for updates on our exciting upcoming programme, which is set to include lectures and film screenings as well as theatre and performance.
KIEV / MOSCOW (work-in-progress)
23 April 2015
Russia/Ukraine, 90', 2014
Authors: Andrei Kiselyov, Maxim Pakhomov, Anna Dombrovskaya, Artur Moryakov, Beata Bubenets, Susanna Baranzhieva, Elena Khoreva and others
Producers: Pavel Kostomarov, Alexander Rastorguev
Stories of everyday life in Kyiv and Moscow. In each city people of similar professions and social backgrounds: teachers, doctors, janitors, deputies, actors… Ordinary heroes against the background of recent dramatic events. Political chasm or hope for peace between them?
"Kiev/Moscow (work-in-progress)" is based on documentary "news reports" shot by ordinary people on Maidan, in Crimea (during the Russian invasion), in Odessa (where people died in a fire as a result of clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian activists) and in Moscow (where people protested against the war in support of Ukraine). Citizens of Ukraine and Russia created this film together with professional documentary makers: this is a view from within, an attempt by two nations to show each other what is happening in real life.
Russiannness: the matter
21 April 2015
What does that mean – to be a contemporary Russian artist on the global art scene? What does that mean – if one undergoes the movement of becoming-artist abroad? To what extent do the Western-educated Russian-born artists consider themselves as “Russian artists”?
In the upcoming talk we will discuss the idea of Russianness as an element, which circulates in blood and identity of the three invited artists. Being perpetually affected by changes in the lived experience and conditions, Russianness constantly changes the structure of its molecules: it could crystalize as well as it could vaporise, but could it disappear completely? How do the internal control and the external uncertainty coincide in the process of its conversion? We invite the three Russian-born artists who are building their careers abroad to speculate about the behaviour of this extremely mutable element called Russianness in relation to their work.
Chair: Sasha Burkhanova, London-based freelance curator, currently working for Maxim Boxer Exhibitions & Auctions. The MA graduate of Goldsmiths University, she is now writing her PhD in philosophy of contemporary art at the University of Greenwich.
VARYA: FILM SCREENING AND SKYPE CONVERSATION WITH ALIONA POLUNINA (DIRECTOR)
16 April 2015
GRAD lab presents a series of film screenings to accompany GRAD's current exhibition ‘Borderlands’. This month we invite you to view three documentaries about Ukraine. Each screening will be followed by a Skype talk with the film's director, providing an opportunity for dialogue and a chance to ask questions.
Interims, uncertainties, illustrated by the great search engine powers: for Yandex, the Crimea is Russian territory, for Google it is Ukrainian. And the realm of Facebook is only a keystroke away, not to be underestimated as a platform for ideological positioning. When Aliona Polunina tries to shoot a film about the Russian-Ukrainian war she meets Varya, a simple Moscow mathematics teacher with frizzy grey hair, naive eyes, health sandals, plastic bags and a notebook. Varya goes to Ukraine to explore a whole spectrum of political and national euphoria there, which she emphatically tries to understand and communicate to her Russian fellow campaigners in defiance of the delusions propagated by the mass media.
Towards the New Sublime: From Military Labs – to Art Spaces. Dr. Xenia Vytuleva
24 March 2015
In this lecture Dr Xenia Vytuleva (Columbia University) will explore the paradox of multiple realizations of Romanticism and the “Theory of Sublime” in contemporary architecture and artistic practices. The paper will seek to trace the lines of recent mutation in romantic vision, as well as the radical shift in its instrumental apparatus, caused primarily by accelerating the intersection of art experiments with military advanced technologies and discoveries of the “new dangers”. Cases under discussion will include the monumentalisation of ephemerality in Cold War exhibition pavilions, as well as the new generation of Gesamtkunstwerk in contemporary museums discourse.
Dr Xenia Vytuleva is an architecture historian, theorist and curator. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from Moscow State University. She is currently a visiting professor at Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation Columbia University in N.Y. A head researcher at the Institute of the Theory and History of Architecture (NIITIAG) at the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, she is currently working on a book entitled “Aesthetics of Uncertainty in Experimental Practices of the 20th Century” and on the project “Heterotopias of the Cold War; Secret spaces in transition”.