That Time for Dreams Again? Young Biennale, Kabakovs in Paris, and Koenig expresses doubts on Manifesta

As June kicks in, Baibakov Art Projects will shift to its summer regime, but before taking any breaks, there were a few stories we had to get out there.

A Time for DreamsThe Dreamers

Last week, the Moscow Biennale of Young Art unveiled its roster of over 60 artists from all over the globe (though yes, mainly Russia and “/Germany,” which we read as “temporarily crashing in Berlin.”) Set to open June 26, this year’s biennale is curated by David Elliott, with the theme “A Time for Dreams. “

You can find the full roster here (scroll down) but to name a few highlights from Russia, a solid representation of the already-not-so-new generation, perhaps familiar to some of our readers: Ivan Plusch, Olya Kroytor, ZIP Group, Vladimir Logutov, Evgeny Granilschikov and of course RECYCLE

 

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, The Strange City, Monumenta 2014, Paris.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, The Strange City, Monumenta 2014, Paris.

A Thoroughly Un-Monumental Monumenta…

Similarly dreamy is Ilya and Emilia Kabakov‘s “Strange City” commission at the Grand Palais’s Monumenta series, a work that almost never happened, due to budget woes. Maybe that would have been the best. Now in its sixth edition, the Monumenta project has filled the gorgeous, glassed-in interior of the palace with large-scale interventions by Daniel Buren, Christian Boltanski and Anish Kapoor. Rather than seize on the seemingly limitless possibilities of the space (imagine how much easier it would have been for the Man Who Flew Into Space…), the Kabakovs kept to the model seen in the Venice Biennale, of seamless little white structures organized around a cupola. Each offers its own monastic moment, with themes like “The Center of Cosmic Energy,” “How to Meet An Angel” and “The Empty Museum.” A bit off to the side, one also finds “The Dark Chapel” and “The White Chapel.” (You get the idea, perhaps?)

Don’t get us wrong – we have long loved the quiet power of Ilya Kabakov’s character albums, where the faint trace of pencil on paper was, in its own way, electric, sending tinges of longing, loneliness and a half-digested despair. This installation, however, seems to take the religion without the faith.

But perhaps you have a different take? “The Strange City” is on view through June 22, 2014, at the Grand Palais in Paris. (For more info, check here.)

Manifesta 10 Curator Kasper Koenig

Manifesta 10 Curator Kasper Koenig

Manifesta Destiny?

In a less dreamy state, we find Manifesta 10 curator Kasper KoenigOur curator has weathered quite the storm of protests – from the initial petitions, to the recent politically-motived loss of artists Chto Delat? and Pavel Althamer. Now in his final stretch (the show is due to open June 28, after all), you would think he could finally rest on his laurels?

Not quite. In an interview given to DW on May 25, Koenig admits that for the first time he’s not certain if the exhibition will even happen. [[Find the original text – in Russian – here . All quotes are our translations for the purposes of this blog.]] Comparing the situation to “some kind of Latin American dictatorship,” Koenig points out that many of the complications around the setting – the law against homosexual propaganda, and the recent ban on cursing – could never have been expected when he signed on. On the subject of boycotts, he declares, frankly: “A boycott only makes sense when someone stands to lose from it. Putin’s government could care less about Manifesta.”

His troubles haven’t ended there. After relating an incident with a Francis Alys work, Koenig reveals that the Russian staff of Manifesta haven’t been paid for almost two months:

On the other hand, because of all these differences of opinion, the Russian team for Manifesta in Petersburg haven’t received a salary for seven weeks now. They don’t have unions looking out for them there. And quite honestly, I am allergic to situations where I have to act as a go-between between the two systems: Manifesta on the one hand, with its American-positivist perspectives, its missionary-like position bordering on religious – and the Russian side with its strategy of dragging on everything, not filling promises and so on. As a result, with a month to the exhibition’s opening, we’ve reached an impasse: nothing’s happening. 

When informed – and we can verify, sadly – that most things in Russia happen at the last minute, Koenig points to the obvious missed opportunities that approach leaves. At the end of the interview, he sums it up: “I have the very sobering feeling that they do not want us here. I have also learned not to watch television in Russia: even if you don’t understand the language, you can see that what’s happening is a powerful brain-washing. We must protect ourselves.”

To be fair, he should have seen this coming, especially after one of Koenig’s key allies – Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky went on record talking about how Russians hate contemporary art, as opposed to “normal art, like the Old Masters.”

You can find Koenig’s full interview here, in Russian.

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