Today, we were delighted to see The Art Newspaper‘s Sophia Kishovsky giving some coverage to the situation with Sergey Bugaev-Afrika and the New Artists. For those too lazy to click on links, basically four of the New Artists – Leningrad’s underground scene from the late 80s – sued a fellow New Artist who goes by the moniker Afrika, charging that he unlawfully confiscated an entire traveling exhibition’s worth of paintings 20-odd years ago, telling the artists they were “lost” at the border. Would have been the perfect crime, had only Afrika not refrained from recently staging a very public exhibition of his “collection” in St Petersburg. The trial was not as open-and-shut as one might imagine, as the court stumbled over how to establish that the artists did indeed have rightful ownership over their paintings (as simple signatures weren’t enough to validate their claims.) Luckily, in the end, the court ruled in favor of the four defendants, though this ruling only applied to a certain selection of the works.
Yesterday, we were grateful to defendant (and participant of Massimiliano Gioni‘s “Encyclopedic Palace” at this year’s Venice Biennale) Evgeny Kozlov for posting a full statement (in Russian) from Kozlov, Oleg Maslov, Inal Savchenko and Oleg Zaika responding to the case. We were particularly amused by one discovery: in a new level of brazen, Afrika appears to have added his name to one of the collaborative paintings. Titled Beach, it’s a rollicking image created by Kino frontman Victor Tsoi, Oleg Kotelnikov and Andrey Medvedev [Full disclosure: we love this image, and have used it for our earlier post.] As part of his statement, Kozlov draws our attention to a particular fact. In its earlier incarnation (including a 2011 exhibition at Panoptican Inuterto Gallery), the painting appears as we pictured it earlier. See below:Kozlov then offers up Exhibit B, one of New Artist’s Andrey Khlobystin‘s photos of the 2013 exhibition that sparked this trial. Notice anything different?
It’s almost too ludicrous to know what to do with. Then again, we guess he already argued in court that signatures don’t mean a thing…
We hope that Kishovsky’s account might draw more attention to the case, but would be happy to put any other interested parties in touch with the artists and their legal representatives.
In the meantime, find all the information above on Kozlov’s site.