Irina Nakhova: Museum on the Edge

Irina Nakhova: Museum on the Edge

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University

Irina Nakhova, Scaffolding, 1984. Diptych, oil on canvas, two 59 x 59 inches, 2000.1181.01-02. Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. Photo: Peter Jacobs.

March 27, 2019
Irina Nakhova: Museum on the Edge
March 30–October 13, 2019
Reception: April 6, 6–8pm
Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University
71 Hamilton Street
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
United States
Hours: Wednesday–Friday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–8pm,
Saturday–Sunday 12–5pm

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The Zimmerli Art Museum invites the public to a reception for Irina Nakhova: Museum on the Edge.

6–7pm: Zimmerli director Thomas Sokolowski introduces the artist, followed by a conversation between artist Irina Nakhova and Jane Sharp, Professor, Department of Art History, Rutgers University, who co-curated the exhibition. Nakhova and Sharp speak about the role art played in Soviet society during the last decades of the 20th century and how Nakhova’s own practices evolved to shape those experiences for her viewers. The program concludes with an audience Q&A.

7–8pm: Guests enjoy refreshments and mingling.

To park in designated university lots, please register your license plate here.

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition Irina Nakhova: Museum on the Edge, on view March 30 to October 13, 2019, the artist’s first museum retrospective in the United States. With some 50 works of art, many are rarely exhibited pieces from the museum’s Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. In addition, there are several important loans from the artist, some of which are exhibited for the first time in the United States. (Please Note: the Zimmerli is closed to the public during the month of August.)

Irina Nakhova (born 1955) began working in the 1970s as one of the youngest members of the now well-known “school” of Moscow conceptualism. From 1983 to 1985, she created a new approach to installation art by transforming one of the rooms in her apartment into a “total work of art” in which the viewer, located within the space, becomes an active participant in its realization. She played a prominent role in Moscow’s unofficial art world and was frequently involved in the actions and performances of the 1980s. Later, after moving to the United States in 1991, she established herself in the West through multiple exhibitions and installations, without, however, losing her connection to Russia, which she represented at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

The exhibition reflects Nakhova’s decades-long activities working in both worlds, beginning with her paintings of the late 1970s and documentation of her conceptual Rooms, through to her most recent interactive installations. Battle of the Invalids (2017) especially demonstrates the complexity of this trajectory: the artist’s constant engagement with global and local audiences, art history, and the ethics of visual arts practices today.

Nakhova stands apart both from the first generation of Moscow conceptualists and from her younger peers. Unlike many of her colleagues, in whose works the narrative or textual component plays a prominent role, Nakhova draws on the visual and cultural dimensions of her dialogue with art history for the conceptual content of her work. The present exhibition reveals the extent to which, as her oeuvre has expanded to include sound, video, and performative media, she remains committed to the process and purpose of painting. 

Nakhova’s lifelong study of artworks in museums has consistently motivated her own creative work and her responses to her environment. As her oeuvre suggests, the priceless objects that museums preserve are also witnesses of past eras. At the same time, any object in a museum’s collection also belongs to the future and will represent the past for future generations. Her highly mediated images connect artifacts from the past with materials grounded in the present to create a deeply ambivalent projection of the past–becoming future. Using the museum as a space to challenge our habitual perspective on the world outside, Nakhova expands its role in our lives. It becomes a space of freedom—one that allows us to take pleasure in the free contemplation of what she describes as the “edge of reality.”

Irina Nakhova: Museum on the Edge is organized by Jane A. Sharp, Professor, Department of Art History, and Research Curator for Soviet Nonconformist Art; and Julia Tulovsky, Curator for Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art; with the assistance of graduate students in Rutgers University’s Department of Art History: Maria Garth, Dodge-Avenir Fellow, and Sopio Gagoshidze, Dodge-Lawrence Fellow.

The exhibition and publication are made possible by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund and the Dodge Charitable Trust–Nancy Ruyle Dodge, Trustee. 

About the Dodge Collection
The Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University is the largest and most comprehensive collection of unofficial Soviet art in the world. The collection includes over 20,000 works by more than 1,000 artists from Russia and the Soviet Republics, created from about 1956 to 1986. The collection was assembled by American economist Norton Dodge during his many business trips to the Soviet Union in the 1960s through the early 1970s, and through relationships with artists who later moved to the United States. The Zimmerli provides opportunities to study and exhibit these artworks, which otherwise might have been lost to time and circumstance, as well as position the Dodge Collection in the global dialogue about art, especially its relevance in the development of conceptual art in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Zimmerli Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10am to 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5pm, and select first Tuesdays of the month, 10am to 9pm. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays, as well as the month of August.

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Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University
March 27, 2019

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