Tag Archives: Ekaterina Degot

Auditorium Moscow: A Sketch for a Public Space (Moscow)

auditorium-moscow.org

Auditorium Moscow. A Sketch for a Public Space
September 16 – October 16, 2011
Bielie Palaty, Prechistenka 1/2, Moscow

With 14 million inhabitants and 101 billionaires, Moscow is Europe’s biggest city, and perhaps its most contradictory. The blueprint used to rebuild the former capital of the socialist world is brutal. Fueled by a burgeoning resource economy, the city goes global, with financial and cultural involvement in all the other global capitals, and with massive migration of cheap labor from Central Asia. But at the same time, Moscow refuses to see its problems and its possibilities. It isolates itself from the world to which it belongs, constantly in danger of becoming a provincial megalopolis. The lack of a real public sphere – both in literal, spatial and figurative senses – is part of the problem. The vast open spaces left behind by communism almost never become places for people. Yet despite all the authoritarian governance and the much-lamented absence of politics, people realize that there can be no civil society on the basis of movie theaters, shopping malls, condominiums and fancy cafes alone.

The city’s messages remain intense. Its history is still intriguing as an alternate modernity, and its current transformation continues to generate new subjects, new social structures, new fields for experience, new conflicts, and new spaces of hope. Moscow’s counterparts are not just New York, London, and Dubai, but the other capitals of the former socialist world, where people face some similar challenges in taking over those open spaces which can be places for people. So what is to be done? Most of the answers to this classical question are virtual, either online, or, more interestingly, locked into anabiosis in the urban fabric that surrounds us.

It is the same in contemporary art. So many new institutions promise a new public sphere and new contacts to the international scene. But they all too often ignore the real conflicts upon which that public sphere would be founded. For now, like in the shopping malls, their owners are out to sell audiences routines of fast, passive-aggressive consumption and mass tourism, in which it is hard to really engage with the art and the artists that make it. Inequalities and conflicts are carefully hidden. A more relevant public art, too, remains virtual, ephemeral. But maybe it is possible to do things otherwise?

In the project “Auditorium Moscow,” the curators will test the hypothesis of a new public platform for contemporary art at the very center of the city and at the heart of its contradictions. Drawing upon the experiences and the collection of the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, it projects a school, a club, and an exhibition that will unfold not only in space but also in time. Over the course of four weeks, “Auditorium Moscow” will offer a dense program of workshops, screenings, and roundtables with artists and theoreticians from Poland, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and Latin America, examining the question of public spaces and the constituencies that inhabit them, in both urbanism and art. A special group of students will accompany and help to realize the project, recruited mostly from Moscow’s two emerging art schools, the Moscow Rodchenko School for Photography and Multimedia, and the Institute for Problems of Contemporary Art (IPSI).

The exhibition will change over time, combining pieces from the collection of the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art with newly commissioned work, including video installations and films by Aernout Mik, Artur Zmijewski, and Yael Bartana, and Russian artists Sergei Bratkov, Olga Chernysheva, and Chto Delat. Polish Artist Zbigniew Libera will present new photographs of his view of contemporary Moscow. The project’s main discussion space will feature a specially designed auditorium by Slovenian-born artist Tobias Putrih. “Auditorium Moscow” will open with a mini-conference on “Institutions, Cities, and Political Culture,” featuring Charles Esche (Vanabbe Museum Eindhoven), and Krytyka Polityczna (Warsaw). Miguel Robles-Duran will hold a workshop on the problems of gentrification in Latin America. Dutch artist Matthijs de Bruijne will attempt an artistic cartography through the eyes of Moscow’s migrant workers, and report on the Migrant Worker Museum in Beijing. Berlin-based composer and filmmaker Christian Von Borries will hold a workshop on auditory violence and urban soundscaping. Polish artist and curator of the forthcoming Berlin Biennial Artur Zmijewski will hold a discussion of activists from Moscow and Petersburg. In the days of the Moscow Biennial’s opening, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera will show a performance.

“Auditorium Moscow” is the first project at the historical location of the Belie Palaty, a 17th century townhouse located at the very beginning of the city’s so-called Golden Mile. This neighborhood has undergone a fundamental gentrification over the last ten years, but the building’s gates have been closed for the last 20 years. On its steps, there is an improvised memorial for human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were assassinated by neo-Nazis here on January 19, 2009. On the house across the street, a memorial plaque notes that this was the seat of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, whose head Solomon Mikhoels was killed in 1948. A monument to Friedrich Engels sadly peers over to the reconstruction of Christ the Savior Church, where the Palace of the Soviets was never realized. This is an intriguing location that will continue to host projects dedicated to contemporary art in its urban surrounding.

The project “Auditorium Moscow” was initiated by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw in cooperation with curators Ekaterina Degot and David Riff. Established in 2005, the Museum is located in temporary premises and its building is in the process of construction. The program of the Museum at the moment is very much defined by the social changes in former Eastern Europe, therefore the initiation of the public debate is the Museum’s main focus. For this reason the Museum is  interested in sharing its knowledge in defining public space and at the same time would like to understand how the notion of public space is reformulated in other societies under transformation.

Curators: Ekaterina Degot (Moscow), Joanna Mytkowska (Warsaw), David Riff (Moscow-Berlin)

Architect: Katya Bochavar

Coordinators: Andrey Parshikov (Moscow), Katia Szczeka (Warsaw)

Participants: Yael Bartana, Christian von Borries, Sergei Bratkov, Tania Bruguera, Matthijs de Bruijne, Olga Chernysheva, Chto Delat, Phil Collins, Galit Eilat, Charles Esche, Aleksandra Galkina, Sharon Hayes, Polina Kanis, Yakov Kazhdan, Krytyka Polityczna, Learning Film Group, Yuri Leiderman, Zbigniew Libera, Renzo Martens, Adrian Melis, Deimantas Narkevicius, Tobias Putrih, Miguel Robles-Duran, Andrei Silvestrov, Sergei Sitar, Haim Sokol, Hito Steyerl, David Ter-Oganyan, Artur Żmijewski

The project is realized as part of the International Cultural Programme of the Polish EU Presidency coordinated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. The project is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

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1st Ural Industrial Biennial: Shockworkers of the Mobile Image (Ekaterinburg)

1st Ural Industrial Biennial

Collage by the employees of Ural Worker Printing Press, 1990s
Photo: Andrei Luft

1st Ural Industrial Biennial
Shockworkers of the Mobile Image
9 September – 10 October 2010

Opening days:
8-12 September 2010

Ekaterinburg, Russia

Curators: Cosmin Costinas, Ekaterina Degot, David Riff

The National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA) and the Sverdlovsk Region Governor’s Office are pleased to announce the opening of the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial. The biennial will take place in the Ural Workers Printing Press (the main project) and in four large industrial plants (the special projects) in the city of Ekaterinburg. The Ural Industrial Biennial is a format initiated and developed by the director of the National Center for Contemporary Art, Ekaterinburg branch, Alisa Prudnikova.

Ekaterinburg, formerly Sverdlovsk, is the capital of the Soviet Union’s industrial heartland, the Ural. When the USSR collapsed, the city’s many heavy industries fell prey to economic malaise. But today, Ekaterinburg has become one of the hubs of Russia’s resource economy, a site of accumulation following an era of shock privatization, a place where people dream with BRICs and awaken to the harsh realities of economic crisis. How should we understand all this new investor architecture, empty as of yet, all these new service industries, all that new imaginary “symbolic capital” produced by “creative professionals” and their underlings? What role does and can contemporary art play in such a place, when it comes to the half-operational spaces of Soviet industry? Can it be more than a shot in the dark, a fastmoving consumer commodity, a medium for gentrification, a plaything of the superrich? Can it be more than a reproduction?

The biennial’s title is “Shockworkers of the Mobile Image,” and its main venue is the Ural Worker Printing Press, a constructivist building in the center of Ekaterinburg. Built in 1929-1930, this space prompts a dialogue with the most contradictory period of Soviet history, when the party sent shock brigades to build heavy industries in the middle of nowhere. Their superproductive labor was supposedly voluntary, heroic, based on enthusiasm and affect, but overseen by a growing security apparatus. Foreign experts and internationalists participated, reproducing and implanting mobile images of Fordist modernity. Their engagement was genuine, but remained blind to the harsh reality of intensifying exploitation. In many ways, Russia’s transition to global post-Fordist capitalism is no less drastic, and today’s global artists, filmmakers, and architects are shockworkers, too, and internationalists, no doubt, capable of an affective solidarity much like that of the pre-fascist 1930s. They come to distant cities, working nights to build temporary factories on the sites abandoned by industry, factories that reproduce images, affects, and social relations, factories where free time takes on form and becomes a commodity. In Ekaterinburg, this temporary factory taps into a vast reservoir of amateur creativity, harkening back to an age when it seemed like all the shockwork was over… We want to ask: who is really the worker in this new factory? The artist? The curator? The audience? What happens when these workers leave? And what happens when they return?

Curated by Cosmin Costinas (Amsterdam/Utrecht), Ekaterina Degot (Moscow), and David Riff (Moscow/Berlin), “Shockworkers of the Mobile Image” draws together the work of more than 40 artists and filmmakers in a dense curatorial narrative.The exhibition consists almost entirely of copies, reproductions, rips, reconstituted objects and long-distance works, including contributions by: Yuri Albert, Tarsila do Amaral, Pablo Baen Santos, Yael Bartana, Bela Balazs Studio, Guy Ben-Ner, Blue Noses, Christian von Börries, Serguej Bratkov, Alex Buldakov, Cao Fei, Olga Chernysheva, Chto Delat, Evgenia Demina, Jimmie Durham, Harun Farocki, Daniel Faust, M.M. Fontenelle, Joris Ivens, Christian Jankowsky, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Nikita Kadan & Alexander Burlaka, Kolumne Links, Naroa Lizar, Roman Minin, Andrei Monastyrski, Rabih Mroue, Ciprian Muresan, Deimantas Narkevicius, Amshei Nuerenberg, Johannes Paul Raether, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Andreas Siekmann & Alice Creisher & Max Jorge Hinderer, Sean Snyder, Praneet Soi, Hito Steyerl, Mladen Stilinovic, Taller E.P.S. Huayco, Avdey Ter-Oganyan, David Ter-Oganyan, Florin Tudor & Mona Vatamanu, V.M.Volovich, Lin Yilin, Vadim Zakharov, among others.

The exhibition at the biennial’s main venue is accompanied by a program of special projects, curated by Alisa Prudnikova. It inhabits the operational or defunct premises of some of Ekaterinburg’s largest industrial plants. Artists from Ekaterinburg and elsewhere in Russia and from abroad will turn these production sites into a heterogeneous territory for experiments in the industrial environment. Factory spaces themselves become objects of artistic production that pursues a diversity of aims, be they critical, poetic, or social. The special projects program features contributions by artists from Russia, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Mexico, the USA, France, Finland, and Sweden.

The biennial’s opening will be accompanied by an international symposium dedicated to discussing the industrial past and the post-industrial present.

On the occasion of the opening, the biennial will publish a catalogue in two volumes, one of them dedicated to the main venue, the other to the special projects program. Contributors include Oleg Aronson, Keti Chukhrov, Boris Groys, Hu Fang, Ben Seymour and Hito Steyerl.

Biennial venues:
Main venue: Ural Worker Printing Press (House of Print)
Special projects: Verkh Iset’ Metallurgical Factory, VIZ-Stal’, Ural Heavy Machines Plant, old Uralmash House of Culture, Colored Metals Factory (historical building), Sverdlovsk Worsted Factory

Commissar: Alisa Prudnikova
Intiator: National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA)
Co-Initiators: Governor’s Office of the Sverdlovsk Region, the Sverdlovsk Regional Government with the official support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Organizer: National Center for Contemporary Art, Ekaterinburg branch
Co-organizers: City Administration of Ekaterinburg, “New Art” Regional Public Foundation in Support of Contemporary Art

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