Victory Over the Future / Russian Pavilion / 53rd Venice Biennale 2009

The Russian Pavilion at the 53rd International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia presents works by seven artists: Georgy (Gosha) Ostretsov, Pavel Pepperstein, Anatoly Zhuravlyov, Alexei Kallima, Irina Korina, Sergei Shekhovtsov, and Andrei Molodkin. In this video we have a closer look at the installations by Ostretsov, Pepperstein, Zhuravlyov, Kallima, and Korina.

The exhibition at the Russian Pavilion is entitled “Victory Over The Future” and is curated by Olga Sviblova.

Victory Over the Future / Russian Pavilion / Venice Biennale 2009. June 4, 2009.

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Excerpts from the press release:

“Victory, as a phenomenon, has an endless number of philosophical, culturological, social, ethical and artistic interpretations. Victory is also an existential and emotional state, one of the primary determinants of the behaviour of each individual and society as a whole.

Created in 1913, Mikhail Matyushin, Alexei Kruchonykh’s and Kazimir Malevich’s acclaimed Futurist opera ‘Victory over the Sun’ was an omen of impending catastrophes in the early 20th century. At the onset of the 21st century the world is once again in crisis, paralysed more by fear of the future than by economic recession.

Russian Pavilion participants Pavel Pepperstein, Alexei Kallima, Georgy Ostretsov, Andrei Molodkin, Anatoly Zhuravlyov, Irina Korina and Sergei Shekhovtsov refer to personal artistic experience and Russian avant-garde traditions deeply rooted in contemporary Russian art, creating their own artistic cosmos through their problematisation and metaphorisation of the theme ‘victory over the future’.

Georgy (Gosha) Ostretsov has devised an installation entitled “Art Life of The Torments of Creation” with a series of abandoned rooms, in the last of which a mechanical mannequin sits at his desk. This is the artist working on sketches for future projects. As the production of an oeuvre that outlives the creator, artistic activity by its very nature represents a victory over the future.

Pavel Pepperstein is an outstanding representative of the Moscow conceptual school. He is best known for absurdist drawings, his “Landscapes of the Future”. At the Venice Biennale he presents a series of works in which uncompromising Suprematist elements sprout through the nebulous contours of future megalopolises. At the exhibition the artist’s own rap chant will be interspersed with Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’, composed in 1913.

Anatoly Zhuravlyov’s work “Black Holes” relates to the issue of historical memory. Hundreds of 1cm-diameter miniature photographs of 20th century figures that changed the course of history in some way – from Gandhi to Einstein and from Churchill to Picasso – are arranged on chaotic, abstract black blots that cover the entire space from floor to ceiling like black holes and on crystal balls hanging from the ceiling.

Alexei Kallima creates vast frescoes portraying stands crowded with supporters at a football match. They are overwhelmed with the joy of victory, or the despair of defeat. The frescoes are covered with fluorescent paint only visible in ultra-violet light. When the visitor is a certain distance away from the fresco, a sensor de-activates the ultra-violet lamps. The visitor finds himself in a white wasteland, perceiving the emptiness as an inevitable consequence of triumphant euphoria. “Rain Theorem”, the title given to this project, refers to the theory of chaos and the virtual impossibility of predicting anything, whether it is the outcome of a sports event or the course of history.

Irina Korina creates enormous fountains made of old, multi-coloured plastic tablecloths evoking strange biomorphic forms filled with turgor pressure. The piece is entitled “Fountain”.

Andrei Molodkin presents a multi-media installation of two hollow glass sculptures, silhouettes, representing Nike of Samothrace, the symbol of victory. One sculpture is filled with pulsing black liquid – oil, the other with red – blood. Video cameras are directed at the sculptures. The projection on the screen combines the two images so that streams of black and red pulsate inside Nike of Samothrace, bringing her to life and symbolising the ambivalence of any Victory.

Sergei Shekhovtsov turns his hand to the heraldry of the Russian Pavilion, which was built by the great Russian architect Shchusev in 1914. His foam-rubber installation “Cartouche” for the façade of the pavilion transforms symbols of a new age into a contemporary coat of arms.

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