Anatoly Osmolovsky Russia, our holy country! Russia, our beloved country! 2001 chair, tape recorder and sound, dimensions variable [view of installation, with standing figures listening to the Russian national anthem*]
Gluklya and Tsaplya Trilogy: Triumph of fragilities, Immersion, Memory to Poor Lisa 2002 video performance and installation of ten dresses, DVD 4 min., 15 min. 30 sec. [large detail video still from projection of "Triumph of fragilities" (the ten dresses are not included in this show)]
David Ter-Oganyan and Aleksandr Korneev Illegal Library 2004 video documentation of shoplifting, with installation including books, wood, metal and paint, dimensions variable [large detail of installation]
There are no images jumping out at you when you first walk into the gallery. You've heard the show of activist Russian artists was put together by the same young curator, Elena Sorokina, who installed the very interesting current group show at Momenta. You've just walked in from an unshaded street on a hot and humid afternoon and you think you need to see something visually exciting, and certainly not too complicated.
At first there doesn't seem to be much of anything there. The main gallery at Schroeder Romero looks more like an installation in a library, or perhaps a room in one of those earnest Soviet (or post-Soviet) museums you think you know all about from books and photographs.
Then you start looking around and you realize that someone is introducing you to a rich vein of intelligent art created by young Russians who are not comfortable with the government and system they have been given. The institutions and lords of the post-soviet system have even less use for their critical and creative output, even their survival, than our own reactionary order has for their equivalents here.
The notes which accompany the labels of each piece provide both an introduction to the sadder side of contemporary Russia and to the artists who may understand it best.
Some time in your tour of the gallery you've realize the exhibition actually is exciting. It's also not too complicated, unless you think about it. And, like any Russian, you will be thinking about it, even if you're not.
Worth a big detour.
From the press release:
Schroeder Romero is pleased to announce the group exhibition "Russia Redux #1" curated by Elena Sorokina. It is the first from a series of exhibitions which are to take place in New York in the upcoming season.
This multimedia exhibition features works by twelve artists and artists' collectives, who are informed by such issues as communities, strategies of resistance, Soviet history and its post-Soviet developments and are concerned with problems of representation of local art scenes to international audiences as well as with the notion of "national construction" in art exhibitions.
The soundtrack of the installation is the current National Hymn of Russia which, historically, went through several spectacular transformations. It was officially adopted as the national hymn of the USSR in 1944. The lyrics were written by Sergey Mikhalkov, but revised in 1977, as Stalin's name was removed. After the collapse of the USSR, Russia adopted the pre-revolutionary Russian National Anthem without any lyrics, which never gained any popularity. In the end of the year 2000 the melody of the Soviet National Anthem was reestablished as the National Hymn of Russia. The lyrics were revised by the same author, Sergey Mikhalkov, who removed notions such as "Communism" or "Soviet Union", no longer in existence. [notes from the curator]