So, while we were finishing up our post on the Petersburg legal woes, Artguide broke the news that artist Irina Nakhova – winner of this year’s Kandinsky Prize – will represent Russia in the next Venice Biennale. Artguide notes that it was Nakhova – not Ilya Kabakov, as popular mythology might lead you to believe – that created Russia’s first total installations. It is still unclear whom commissioner Stella Kasaeva (of the Stella Art Foundation) might tap as curator, though past pavilions have been curated by Boris Groys (2011) and Udo Kittelmann.
Congratulations to Nakhova!
Now our other post:
So yes, it’s bittersweet reading all the journalists’ responses to the conditions in Sochi (bittersweet because it took us 30 seconds to understand why the photo of two toilets in one stall was so funny. We seem to recall that that’s how the Ural Biennale toilets were built), but anyway – anyway – we’re sad to report that there’s been some Olympic-style wrangling going on in the Petersburg art scene.
One of the more publicized cases involves Elena Basner, a respected expert in the Russian Avant-Garde and former curator at the Russian Museum, in charges of aiding and abetting fraud. The case in particular revolves around the $250,000 auctioning off of a forged copy of Boris Grigoriev’s painting, In the Restaurant, 1913, which has actually belonged to the Russian Museum since the 1980s. Charges have been brought to the museum, after it was determined that no such copy would have been possible without the collusion of the institution, who had to have allowed the forgers to work onsite. Basner has been implicated, as it was she who handled all records for the painting. [More on the case here. Non-Russian readers can find an English version of events here.]
Secondly, an appeals court somehow found Sergey Bugaev-Afrika the legal owner of the disputed “lost” paintings, which he “lost” directly into his private collection more than 25 years ago. Four of the artists – Evgeny Kozlov, Oleg Maslov, Inal Savchenko and Oleg Zaika – had won selected paintings back in a November ruling, but it would seem Afrika has pulled some kind of triple-lutz in court. While we can’t find details of the proceedings (including any clue as to how he might have finagled this), Artguide‘s Masha Kravtsova cracked, “Just look at this face. It tells you everything you need to know”: