So with so much going on, we’ve decided to start a kind of digest format. Let us know what you think?
This year’s Innovation Prize will pay tribute Monroe
This week, Innovation – the Russia National Center for Contemporary Art‘s annual prize – announced its nominees for it’s ninth edition. Unlike the ArtChronika Foundation’s Kandinksy Prize, which is limited to Project of the Year and Young Artist, Innovation honors a wide range of practice, recognizing art history and criticism, curatorial projects and the catch-all “regional” category (which is sketchy with its georgraphy. How is it that Katya Degot and David Riff’s Bergen Triennale is nominated for curatorial project, when Taus Makhacheva‘s “The Story Demands to Be Continued” is considered a “regional project?”)
See the full list of nominees here.
FIAC à la russe?
Russia may be getting a new art fair. No, not the return of Cosmoscow (Cosmos cow? Sorry, while the name still makes us smile, we really did think it was a strong concept…) but rather a franchise editions of a tested brand. Artguide reports that FIAC – Paris’s Foire internationale d’art contemporain - is considering conducting the fair in St Petersburg in 2015. The Hermitage’s director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, graciously offered the museum’s General Staff building, which has been earmarked as the contemporary ring. (Wonder how many fairs have taken place in the Louvre…?) In the statement, Petersburg’s vice governer Vasily Kichedge boasted of all the great collectors, museum folk and tourists the fair would bring to the city, while conveniently neglecting the fact that a fair is not a biennale: it’s a commercial event. This move may bring galleries to Russia, but something tells us they will be taking most of their art back with them when they leave.
From Jackals to Asses: Bugaev Strikes Again
In other Petersburg news – and we hope whatever you’ve just eaten, it’s not likely to come back up while reading this – The Art Newspaper Russia has more details on Sergey Bugaev-Afrika‘s latest maneuver, in which he was able to win an appeal regarding the court’s November decision that he should return the two dozen works that were “lost” into his private collection. According to The Art Newspaper Russia’s account, the case was argued more or less the exact same way, only with the opposite verdict. Bugaev’s lawyer Andrei Tyndik evoked the idea of “common law,” equating the artists’ quiet grumbles and suspicions around Bugaev and these paintings as their confirmation of rightful ownership, then dips into an uncomfortable argument, reducing the case of stolen property to a popularity contest [Our translation, Russian original here]:
It was a pretty just decision. Judge for yourself: twenty years go by, and people come up and say that they had no idea that their paintings were in the possession of someone else, and that this other person should return them, and they only found out about this right now, etc, etc. This just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s clear this is a situation that was created artificially. There’s this understanding of acquisition by fact. Even if it’s another person’s object, if a person took it and owns it openly and cares for it, then after a certain period of time, he gains the right of possesion by the fact of owning it…
In particular, in answer to one of the questions of the court, as to whether [the artists] knew that Bugaev had the paintings, they said, “Yes, we knew.” Did they take any measures to get these paintings back at the time? “Yes, we did.” When? “Twenty years ago.” So how can they claim that after all this time that these paintings just “surfaced”?! Nothing surfaced – they’ve been with Sergey Bugaev this whole time. The artists knew this perfectly well. In fact, they were delighted that their works were with Bugaev, because they themselves were unknowns, as we know, compared to Bugaev-Afrika, who is famous throughout the city and the country… This is a classic case of what we call parasite PR, when there’s an attack on a famous person, and in return the attacker gains recognition.
Lest we corroborate this “parasite PR”, let’s let our fair Bugaev speak for himself:
The opposing side of assholes not <expletive deleted from the record> for one second. Defeated asses, they couldn’t understand where to agree.
Bugaev then announced that he will build a museum for the collection, which at the very least means the artists will get to see their works occasionally…?
Read the full proceedings [in Russian] here.