Moderna galerija

December 7, 2004

20 December 2004 – 28 February 2005

Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana 
Tomsiceva 14, SI-1000 Ljubljana
Tel: (+386-1) 2416800
Fax: (+386-1) 2514120

Vadim Fishkin: Changing the Climate, installation, 2004   

Participating artists: Natalia Abalakova & Anatoly Zhigalov, Pavel Aksionov, Yury Albert, Alexander Alexeev & Tatiana Dober, Victor Alimpiev, Julieta Aranda & Anton Vidokle, Vladimir Arkhipov, Joze Barsi, Viktoriya Begalskaya, Goran Bertok, Blue Noses, Borghesia, Buldozer, Janez Burger, Aristarkh Chernyshev & Vladislav Efimov, Collective Actions, Cramp in the Leg, Zvonko Coh & Milan Eric, Vuk Cosic & Davor Bauk, Vuk Cosic & Alexei Shulgin, Domestic Reasearch Society, Gennady Donskoy, Nusa & Sreco Dragan, Vladimir Dubossarsky & Alexander Vinogradov, Alexander Ermolaev, Escape, Vadim Fiskin, Kostja Gatnik, Karpo Godina, Bojan Gorenec, Davide Grassi, Mirko Grobler, Marina Grzinic & Aina Smid, Dmitri Gutov, Hidrogizma, Bostjan Hladnik, Jasna Hribernik & Zmago Lenardic, Inspection Medical Hermeneutics, Otar Ioseliani, Irwin, Bogoslav Kalas, Galerija Kapelica, Maxim Karakulov (Radek Community), Ziga Kariz, Marlen Khutsiev, Viacheslav Koleichuk, Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid, Valery Koshliakov, Alexander Kosolapov, Marko A. Kovacic, Elena Kovylina, Sergei Kuryokhin (Pop Mechanica), Oleg Kuvaev, Laibach, Tomaz Lavric, Yuri Leiderman, Georgy Litichevsky, Lojze Logar, Vladislav Mamyshev – Monroe, Boris Mikhailov, Peter Mlakar, Mumiy Troll, New Stupids, NOM, NSK, OHO, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Alen Ozbolt, Pankrti, Marko Peljhan, Alexander Petlura, Matjaz Pocivavsek, Tadej Pogacar, Nikolay Polissky, Marjetica Potrc, Dmitri Prigov, Franc Purg, Tobias Putrih, Konstantin Reunov, Mikhail Roshal, Victor Skersis, Joze Slak – Doka, Klavdij Sluban, Leonid Sokov, son:DA, Stripcore, SZ (Victor Skersis & Vadim Zakharov), Victor Skersis, Nika Span, Igor Stromajer, Miha Strukelj, Marko Sustarsic, Apolonija Sustersic, TAF Studio, Avdei Ter-Oganian, Slavko Tihec, Leonid Tishkov, Polona Tratnik, Trekhprudny Gallery, Savo Valentincic, Visual Anthropology Workshop, Saso Vrabic, Tao G.Vrhovec Sambolec, V.S.S.D., Yevgeniy Yufit, Alexander Zeldowich, Yuri Zlotnikov, Dunja Zupancic & Dragan Zivadinov, Konstantin Zvezdochetov

Exhibition curators: Zdenka Badovinac, Viktor Misiano, Igor Zabel
Opening reception: Monday, 20 December 2004 at 8 p.m.
Moderna galerija Ljubljana

The last decade has seen many professional, and very friendly, contacts between Ljubljana and Moscow that were not merely incidental but have rather resulted from time-honored associations and affinities between Slavic nations and from their shared experience of similar sociopolitical circumstances.

The exhibition Seven Sins: Ljubljana – Moscow proposes to explore the various dimensions of contacts between the two cities and to underscore the continuity of cooperation between them and their shared interest in similar aesthetic concepts. Both cities and cultures essentially belong to a common context that has been described as the Eastern European culture. Geographical position, particular traditions and character of both Moscow and Ljubljana, however, indicate how wide the range of issues and contents of such a culture actually is.

The continuity is particularly evident in the shared interest in similar aesthetic concepts since the beginning of the 20th century (the Russian historical avant-garde had a great influence on Yugoslav art, and also the so-called neo-avant-gardes of the 1960s and 1970s (such as the Russian group Collective Actions and Slovene group OHO) were, to a certain extent, heirs of these movements).
It is also important to point at the similarities, as well as particular differences, between the concept of the retro-avant-garde in Slovenia and the so-called Sots-Art in Russia.

Since Moscow and Ljubljana both belong to a common cultural (and social) context of Eastern Europe, the exhibition addresses the very issue of this context. What exactly is “Eastern European culture,” which are its basic characteristics, its identity? The issue of identity has proved to be a highly controversial one, and the exhibition deliberately deals with its ambiguous nature. It presents “seven sins” that are, supposedly, typical for Eastern Europe, and thus common to Russian and Slovene artists. These “sins” are Collectivism, Utopianism, Masochism, Cynicism, Laziness, Unprofessionalism, and Love of the West. They can be – from an outside, presumably Western point of view – understood as weaknesses and imperfections, but they are also “virtues,” qualities that Eastern, Slavic countries can contribute to European culture to make it more diverse and rich. For example, utopianism is an antidote to pragmatism, stressing the dimension of hope and future perspectives. Laziness gives artists time to concentrate on themselves and the questions that obsess them. Since eastern artists often are not real “professionals,” they can really love what they do, etc. The seven “sins” (“virtues”) have, in fact, been strongly present in the cultural production of Eastern Europe in the last decades.

The exhibition will thus not focus on presenting an objective history; rather, it will outline history through a number of narratives connected to the issues of identity, difference and transformation. Thus it will also stress the present: both in terms of contemporary views of history and of the fact that most of the participating artists will be contemporary artists from Moscow and Ljubljana, primarily those who are a logical conclusion to the line from the early 20th century avant-gardes to this day. The project pursues the line of work first adopted by the Moderna galerija for its collection Arteast 2000+; the latter presents Moderna galerija’s international collaborations to establish links between Eastern and Western Europe that will eradicate the borders which had until recently separated them in the sociopolitical and cultural sense.
While most of the exhibited works will understandably be works of visual art, the exhibition will also include important achievements from other fields, such as film, architecture, design and pop culture.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue with texts written by Russian and Slovenian writers (Inke Arns, Boris Groys, Slavoj Zizek; texts on the “seven sins:” Svetlana Boym, Ekaterina Bobrinskaya, Eda Cufer, Ekaterina Degot, Victor Mazin, Renata Salecl, Marcel Stefancic, jr.).
The idea of collectivism has been essentially connected to the communist system and its heritage. The property was collective, as well as the structure of society. Societies of the “really existing socialism” have been (often rightly) criticized fot the lack of the space of the individual and his expression.

Art in Eastern Europe, too, has been essentially connected to the idea of the group, belonging to a collective social (or spiritual) body, as opposed to the prevailing individualist positions in Western Europe and even more in the United States. The idea of collectivism in the social states, however, was not necessarily homogeneous. Inside the collective societies, there were numerous parallel worlds that were based on the idea of the collectivism as the basis of both artistic and intellectual production and social life.

The section will include presentation of artistic groups (often in the form of archives), especially those that developed the collective approach and collective authorship in their work. It will also include works that deal more or less directly with the issue of collectivism in its different forms.
Communism as idea and social experiment has been tightly connected to the tradition of utopian thinking (Marx and Engels, and a number of Marxist thinkers after them). In spite of that, Russian and several other revolutions faced the task to construct a just, harmonious and rationally organized and ordered society from the scratch, so to speak, and thus to make a utopian plan true.

Far from being any kind of pre-modern societies, socialist countries have brought the modern utopian ideals of a just, ordered and rationally planned (and controlled) society to an extreme point, exposing contradictions that are an intrinsic part of the conceptual foundations of modernity.

The section will present works that express the utopian view on society and art or understand themselves as parts of such utopian projects. It will also include works that – often ironically – reflect the contradictions of utopianism (and indeed modernity). An important part of it will be also personal, sometimes esoteric utopian worlds of individual artists.
There have often been reproaches to Eastern artists and intellectuals (not least in East itself) regarding their exaggerated “masochist” position, their acceptance of the role of suffering victims in repressive systems. Nevertheless, masochism could be understood as a strategy in the context of power relations and conflicts, a way of social and political resistance. At the same time, masochism can be also an attempt to oppose the pressure of production (e.g. in long, painful and meaningless work that, nevertheless, gives a special pleasure only by itself).

The section will include works that deal with masochism as an actual sexual and social practice. It will also include body art and art projects with obsessive senseless production, as well as works that deal with masochism as a way of disclosing the strategies of power and as a way of resistance against those strategies.
While power in the modern world represents the most explicit form of cynicism, art and culture can use cynical attitudes against it. In this way, cynicism of art can be understood as liberation from dominant attitudes, ideological prejudices, taboos, etc. In this context, cynical disrespect implies liberation, almost purification. It is an attitude that offers new possible responses to the limitations and ideological patterns in political, social, cultural and personal life.
The well-known phrase, “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work,” describes the societies in socialist countries as highly inefficient. People were supposed unwilling to do any work due to the lack of (positive and negative) stimulation and differentiation between the hard-working and efficient ones and the lazy and inefficient ones.

Artists’ fascination with laziness, and their own deliberate laziness, have reflected the contradictions of a society that had declared to be rationally organized, effective and highly productive, while it had been based on the fact that people only “pretended to work.” And yet these artists discovered important values in laziness as a counterpoint to obsession with productivity and efficiency, and, most important, to subordination and instrumentalization of one’s activities in a compulsory search for success.

Laziness can represent liberation from the obsession with success and career. It is, above all, a different structure of time, an empty, meaningless flow of time that can become a form of enjoyment and a basis for art not constructed to be successful.
The unprofessional attitude that has allegedly been characteristic for Eastern Europe has been reflected in work of artists that are interested exactly in the potentials of such attitude.

First, to be a non-professional can imply a sincere and “loving” (amateur) relation to a certain field. The unprofessional and non-professional attitudes developed by artists and social groups are directed against structured working processes and procedures, established relations, but also against market. They imply joy, improvisation and creativity.

Artists also have the possibility to enter numerous fields where they are certainly no professionals, and work within them and with them, offering possible new aspects, approaches and views, and sometimes also criticisms.
Love for West
East – West relations, both of the Cold War and post-Cold War times, have been based not only on direct power and political relations, but also on relations of love/hate, desire, etc. Such relations determine the very idea of East Europe, and an Easterner is unavoidably caught in complex relations towards and with West. Art, too, has been essentially determined by its relation to West as the desired, and at the same time hated, Other.

West appears in fact as a phantasmal image, our positive projection of freedom, abundance and enjoyment. On the other hand, it is accused of being responsible for the hard condition of living and working, lack of international success of Eastern artists etc., briefly, for its lack of interest, knowledge and involvement, as well as for its ambitions of domination.

OPENING HOURS: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6. p.m.

Moderna galerija
December 7, 2004

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