An airship hovering in the air, which, when viewed, turns out to be a filing cabinet of “sharashkin’s offices”, and a whole amusement park built of the simplest materials. Wonder-yudo-fish-whale, inside which more than one person can fit, and a series of photographs about the life of “other” people. In the St. Petersburg Manege opened a grandiose exhibition “Nemoskva is not far off”, created with the participation of the Museum of Fine Arts. A.S. Pushkin. Izvestia appreciated the stage of the NEMOSKVA project designed to develop modern culture in Russian regions.
Airship and hat
Here are the works of young artists from different cities of the country: St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, Izhevsk and Tomsk, Krasnodar, Yekaterinburg, Perm. In addition to the geographical scope, the breadth in terms of types and techniques of art is surprising: from installations that can only be contemplated to interactive objects that need to be set in motion; from round wooden sculpture to knitted high relief.
The exhibition was composed of seven curators under the leadership of Alisa Prudnikova, the author of the idea and the commissioner of the project. Each invited their own artists, uniting them by theme and image.
“The exhibition refutes the idea that contemporary art asserts its value primarily in the capital,” Pavel Prigara, director of the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall, explained to Izvestia. – Work on the exposition has been going on for over a year; 80 artists from 21 cities of Russia are represented there, 68 works were created specifically for this opening day.
At the entrance to the exhibition, spectators are greeted by a huge airship frozen in the air, which is an old file cabinet. On the boxes are the names of “sharashkin’s offices”, prison-type organizations where scientists, engineers and technicians worked. In a window next to it is displayed the straw hat of Nikolai Lanceray, an artist and architect who went through the hellish circles of the camps. This installation by Alexander Morozov is dedicated to Nikolai Evgenievich.
“The artist made the airship, so important for the young Soviet country, an image of a wonderful bright future, with a repressive history,” said curator Evgeny Kutergin. – Lanceray is connected with the space where we are: he rebuilt the building of the Horse Guards Manege into the garage of the OGPU, today it is the Central Exhibition Hall “Manezh”. That is, the installation activates the memory of the place.
At the entrance to the “Lethargy” sector, visitors are greeted by an eerie guard made of funeral paraphernalia. Having passed into his possession, you see a huge whale with a whole town on its back, smoke winds from the highest tower. You can climb into the belly of a whale, feeling like the prophet Jonah, and feel a specific smell reminiscent of decay that natural materials give – it seems to be felt, hay and clay. Nearby on the wall hangs like a death mask of Gogol on an old pillow, made using the technique of sculptural knitting. These and other works create an atmosphere of that very lethargy, prolonged sleep, materialize the stagnation with which many associate the life of provincial cities. But here the question is also raised about the dormant potential, the impulses to awakening.
By the fountain, at the same hour
The installation “Fountain”, which belongs to another zone – “Death is not far off,” curated by Artem Filatov, is close to this section. Vasily Kononov-Gredin did the work especially for this space, and it fits perfectly here. It is a gigantic bowl, suspended on chains that go somewhere in the upper reaches of the Manege, water has frozen on the edges of the bowl. A massive object, as if taken from ancient rituals, emphasizes the height of the exhibition hall and sets the vertical.
– Our curator decided to tell through us, artists, about our cities, without imposing anything on us, – Vasily Kononov-Gredin explained. – I represent Kirov here, in which the fountain is one of the key locations, it is a meeting place, a point of intersection of people.
On the second floor of the Manege there is a park of culture and recreation. At first glance, this space is colorful, pleasing to the eye: there is a pool with giant styrofoam fruits, and a passenger car, into which you can sit down and play one or another electro-melody, and a claw machine to pull out one of the toys by a coin. But you notice that all these attractions are made of materials associated with the bygone past, the Soviet era, which is where the concept of “TsPKiO” comes from.
Next to the nostalgic park is the “Wormhole Theory” sector related to the topic of isolation, so understandable in our post-quarantine era. Wormholes are like parallel worlds that exist separately from ordinary life. These include, for example, Elena Anosova’s expressive photographs of female prisoners.
All these works, raising various questions and made of very different materials, create a kind of space of Russian art, where “the flight of the mountain angels and the reptile of the underwater passage”. Here you can feel how huge the space that exists independently of the capital, and how strong its potential is. In general, “Nemoskva” is coming.