Contested Spaces in Post-Soviet Art

City University of New York
Sidney Mishkin Gallery

March 24 - April 26, 2006

REP Group, Olga Chernysheva, Elena Kovylina, Chto Delat, Said Atabekov, Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev, Yevgeniy Fiks, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Dmitry Gutov, Alina and Jeff Blumis.

Curated by Elena Sorokina            

The socialized public spaces and the communalized private spaces of the Soviet era have largely disappeared, but the private spaces of the current regime are necessarily formed from the remnants of the communist state whose dominion over space has been replaced by new cultural uses, and, in some instances, by newly contested territory. Anatoly Osmolovksy’s Moscow performances, here presented in a series of prints, comment on modifications of the symbolic meanings of historically and ideologically charged sites, including Red Square and the Russian parliament.         

Post-Soviet capitalism has dramatically altered the relationship between public and private spaces. While the Soviet landscape was full of unclaimed vacant spaces, abandoned construction sites and unprotected front doors, today’s urban Russian landscape bears witness to many different projects evincing control.  In these photographs and videos we see several different forms of control.  They range from private spaces guarded by the paramilitary units to sophisticated video surveillance to the dilapidated garden sites with make-shift barriers photographed by Olga Chernysheva. Many of these images are ironic or mocking of both the Soviet regime and the brave new world of post-Soviet capitalism.  Elena Kovylina’s Medal, which transforms a Soviet icon into punk jewelry, is but one example.         

A more sinister image of space in the post-Soviet era is presented in Encounter with the Shadow, a series of prints by Muratbek Djoumaliev and Gulnara Kasmalieva that shows what appear to be bodies, wrapped in white sheeting, laid out in a disputed Central Asian field.          

Curated by Elena Sorokina, this exhibition will be at the Mishkin Gallery from March 24 to April 26, 2006.  A gallery talk will be given by Ms. Sorokina on March 23 at 5 pm, immediately preceding the opening reception. Two other events will be held in conjunction with this exhibition.         

March 21 --A Video Screening will take place at Art In General, 79 Walker Street at 7 pm.               March 29  --A Panel Discussion "Terrorist Naturalism and Other Methods" will be held at Location

One, 26 Greene Street,  also at 7 pm.   With Katerina Degot, David Riff, Anatoly Osmolovsky and Dmitry Gutov         

Travel for the artists to New York has been generously funded by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.