For the second time in a row, an artist from the influential Moscow Conceptual School will represent Russia at the Venice Biennale. Artist Vadim Zakharov, a leading historian of avant-garde Russian art and a founding member of the collective of “unofficial” artists working during the Soviet era, will head the pavilion at this year’s festival. Zakharov, a winner of two of Russia’s biggest art prizes, the Innovation and the Kandinsky, previously showed at Venice in 2002, at the Arsenal. And, for the first time, a non-Russian, Udo Kittelman, the director of the State Museums in Berlin, has been brought on board as curator. Stella Kesaeva, the commissioner of the Russian pavilion, said of Kittelman: “His appointment is an important and conscious step, reflecting on our principal objective, which is to bring Russia art out of isolation and secure for it the attention that it deserves at the highest international level.” Zakharov follows Boris Groys, another member of The Moscow Conceptual School, who curated the pavilion in 2011.
Elsewhere a handful of other Russian artists and curators will be presenting their work as part of the series of collateral events.
Socialism Will Be Back (2006), Pavel Pepperstein
This year, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art will be putting on two exhibitions. The first, Lost in Translation, brings together over 100 artworks to explore the difficulties of understanding in a globalised world. The exhibition, which will be curated by Antonio Geusa, looks at the language barriers that persist despite advances in technology and digital communications. The show features artworks from respected figures such as Oleg Kulik, Alexander Brodsky and Pavel Pepperstein.
Katya Diptych 7 (2012), Bart Dorsa
In the second of the Museum’s events, Dmitry Ozerkov, head of the contemporary art department of the Hermitage in St Petersburg, will curate Katya, a solo exhibition by US artist Bart Dorsa. The exhibition will feature three years of works, including photographic plates and bronze sculptures, telling the story of Katya, a young Russian girl whom the artist met in Moscow. Katya, who was born in the Russian Far East, lived in an Orthodox Christian monastery with her mother until the age of 13 before moving to Moscow. Once in the capital, she turned to modifying her body with a variety of piercings and other procedures.
Still from Gamsutl (2012), Taus Makhacheva
Love Me, Love Me Not, produced by YARAT contemporary art organisation will feature 17 artists from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia. Representing Russia will be anthropologist-cum-artist Taus Makhacheva who will show her film Gamsutl (2012) that premiered at the Liverpool Biennial last year. The film is about a young man who dances as a way of encapsulating the abandoned silk-road city Gamsutl.