Revolution in the Net (Helsinki)

www.kaapelingalleria.fi

8.11 – 2.12.2012
Revolution in the Net

The exhibition Revolution in the Net deals with social and political conditions in contemporary Russia, focusing on the political events surrounding the presidential election in spring 2012. It includes works by Russian artists and artist collectives: Olga Zhitlina; Factory of Found Clothes (FFC) represented by Natalya Pershina Yakimanskaya (Gluklya); and the collective Gentle Women (Nezhnue Babu, Evgenia Lapteva and Alexandra Artamonova). The exhibition is curated by St Petersburg-based curator Anna Bitkina.

The election of Vladimir Putin for a third term as president prompted profound disagreement among the politically engaged citizens of Russia. A series of actions that included huge demonstrations, protest meetings and concerts took place prior to and after the election. The demonstrations were followed by large-scale arrests (including that of Pussy Riot band members) and police raids. “Political tension is growing. The Russian Police and the Federal Security Service are building up a control net across the country that can catch anyone who wears a balaclava mask or holds up a protest slogan. Another controlling body is the Orthodox Church in Russia,” says Bitkina.

“The most immediate reactions to the current political situation continue to take place on the Internet, which is still a semi-free space where freedom of speech is less curtailed. This online revolt has created a network of people who care about the future of Russia, and has divided the country into those who are for and those who are against the Putin regime,” says Bitkina.

The exhibition artists express views on the current situation and convey the general mood of Russian society today. In her documented performance Political as Personal Olga Zhitlina tries to engage bored, lonely, apathetic Internet users in political discussion by showing them documentation of political actions recorded on her cell phone. Her other work, Week of Silence, a new online play in seven parts, deals with young Russian women’s experience of gender and global politics, and will be shown at the Cable Gallery on November 22, followed by a discussion between the exhibition curator Anna Bitkina and the artist. Factory of Found Clothes have worked with the main features of Pussy Riot’s outfit (colourful dresses and balaclava masks) and have constructed a net-like installation out of women’s stockings and dresses. Gentle Women, a young collective from Kaliningrad, presents Dirt, a video work in the style of a Tarkovsky film. “This rather abstract, yet romantic video loop could be interpreted as a revolutionary act of opposition by brave, strong young Russian women,” Bitkina concludes.

Zhitlina’s performance and FFC’s installation have been produced for the exhibition at the Cable Gallery. Olga Zhitlina will be on a residency at HIAP Suomenlinna for the exhibition period, and curator Anna Bitkina from November 11 until December 16.

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Filed under art exhibitions, contemporary art, feminism, gay rights, political repression, protests, Russian society

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