A guide to the New East


Katya Bochavar’s interactive exhibition opens in the Netherlands

11 June 2013
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Russian artist Katya Bochavar has created an interactive, multimedia art piece based on the drawings of celebrated artist Sol LeWitt, one of the key proponents of conceptual art. Rhythm Assignment at Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht in the Netherlands consists of projections of drawings by LeWitt interwoven with videos and images of dance and geometrical patterns designed by Bochavar. LeWitt played a major role in the creation of a new radical aesthetic in the late Sixties, which insisted on the importance of the concept in art. The movement followed the abstract expressionism of the preceding decade.

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Accusations of censorship as more exhibitions are shut down at Perm festival

10 June 2013 · Perm
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  • Poster from Vasily Slonov’s satirical show Welcome! Sochi 2014. Cartoon character Cheburashka is revealed as two-faced

The White Nights festival in Perm has come under pressure after four of its exhibitions have been closed, seemingly at the request of unhappy local politicians. In response, Marat Guelman, one of the festival's organisers has accused critics of political game-playing.

The cultural festival, which opened on 1 June, first encountered difficulties when Vasily Slonov’s exhibition of posters, Welcome! Sochi 2014, which satirised the forthcoming Olympics in Russian resort town Sochi, was criticised by Perm region senator Andrei Klimov for “Russophobic demonstrations” that were “not worthy of being in Perm region”. The exhibition was shut down on 4 June, and replaced with landscapes and still lives from Israel-based collective New Barbizon, who exhibited a message of support for Slonov. The following day the New Barbizon show was also shut down, and the gallery locked and placed under guard.

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Bolshoi drops star dancer Tsiskaridze

10 June 2013 · Moscow
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The beleaguered Bolshoi Ballet has announced that it would not be renewing the contract of one of its most prominent dancers, Nikolai Tsiskaridze at the end of the month. Tsiskaridze’s departure is the latest in a line of scandals to rock the famous ballet company.

Relations between the dancer and his employers had soured in the wake of the acid attack on Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin in January of this year. Tsiskaridze, 39, accused the management, and in particular general director Anatoly Iskanov, of pursuing a concerted campaign against him when he was reported to have been involved in the incident. Filin suffered third degree burns to his face and neck after acid was thrown on him outside his home on January 17. Another Bolshoi soloist, Pavel Dmitrichenko, has since admitted to the crime, along with two accomplices. They are yet to come to trial.

Tsikaridze was given two official reprimands for giving unauthorised interviews in the wake of the attack. Relations between Tsiskaridze and the Bolshoi had been deteriorating since October 2011, when the dancer openly criticised the standard of the theatre’s 21 billion rouble renovation. In January 2012 Tsiskaridze was removed from his teaching post with the company. 

Tsiskaridze, from Tbilisi, Georgia, joined the troupe in 1992. In 2001 he became the youngest ever recipient of the title "People’s Artist of Russia", in recognition of his success as a dancer.

TV premiere for Pussy Riot documentary

10 June 2013
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They made international headlines last year after they were arrested for their anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral and now Pussy Riot are the subject of a new documentary to be screened on HBO this evening, June 10th. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, which won a Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in January, is part of the critically acclaimed US subscription channel's Docs Summer Series. The film follows the band’s three members — Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich — for six months, covering their arrest and trial in 2012. The trio were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in jail, although Samutsevich was subsequently freed. With privileged access to the group and exclusive footage, the film provides an in-depth look at the women behind the distinctive balaclavas. Its directors Michael Lerner, Oscar-nominated for his previous film Afghan Star, and Russian filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin spoke to The Calvert Journal. 

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Kinotavr Film Festival announces winners

9 June 2013 · Sochi
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Konstantin Khabensky in The Geographer Drank Away His Globe

Director Alexander Veledinsky's The Geographer Drank Away His Globe (2013)  won the Grand Prix at the Kinotavr Russian Film Festival in the Olympic city of Sochi on Sunday evening. 

The screen adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name by Alexei Ivanov follows the life of Viktor Sluzhkin, a teacher of geography in a secondary school in the Ural city of Perm. The comedy chronicles the stresses of his work, family and love for a student. Actor Konstantin Khabensky, who previously played a Russian spy in the British film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), took best actor for his portrayal of Sluzhkin. Made for a Russian audience, it remains to be seen whether the film will gain any platforms internationally.

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Budget of Perm festival under investigation

7 June 2013
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  • The stage at the White Nights Festival in Perm. Photograph: prm.ru

The Prosecutor’s Office of Perm Region has launched an investigation into the budget of the festival White Nights in Perm 2013, RIA Novosti reports.

The festival, which began on 1 June, is reported by Izvestia to have cost 250m roubles (about £5m). The newspaper’s sources were quoted as saying that this was “a very large sum for such a festival”. Nearly half the funding (111m roubles) was provided by the regional authorities, with a further 78m roubles coming from the city budget, and 60m from Lukoil Perm.

This year, the White Nights festival, which has been running since 2011 marks the 290th anniversary of Perm, has invited Russian participants from the world’s leading cultural capitals. The month-long celebration includes concerts, theatre, master-classes, exhibitions and dance performances combining art groups in the region, Russia and other countries.

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New site to let Moscow residents commission street art

7 June 2013 · Moscow
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  • Circus, by Alexey Mednoy

  • The Moment of Inspiration, by Aber & Morik

A new service has been launched to bring together graffiti artist and local residents who want to brighten up their neighbourhood. As part of summer-long festival Moscow — The Best City in the World, Muscovites will be able to submit applications for public spaces that they think would benefit from some street art. For their part, graffiti artists will provide sketches of the works they want to paint.

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Most expensive Russian painting ever sells at auction

6 June 2013
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  • Nikolai Roerich, Madonna Laboris (1931)

  • Madonna Laboris at Bonham’s

  • Ilya Mashkov, Still Life with Fruit (1910)

  • Alexander Volkov, Children at Play (1926)

The most expensive Russian painting in history was sold at an auction at Bonham’s in London on Wednesday for £7.9m. The purchase of Madonna Laboris, painted in 1931 by artist and philosopher Nikolai Roerich, by an unnamed telephone bidder was the highlight of a day of another record-breaking day  for Russian art on the international market.

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Documentary cinema to open in Moscow

6 June 2013 · Moscow
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Viewers at a screening by the Centre for Documentary Film

Russia's first dedicated documentary cinema opens today in Moscow. The new cinema, which is part of the Museum of Moscow in the centre of the city, is the culmination of the recent success of the new Centre for Documentary Film. This initiative was started in September 2012, with the support of the Moscow City Government, in order to provide a platform for quality documentary film, including regular commercial film showings, as well as festivals and special screenings. The cinema’s programme begins with the Beat Film Festival of music documentaries.

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Music documentary festival kicks off in Moscow

5 June 2013 · Moscow
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A festival of music documentaries will open in Moscow tomorrow showing some of the best films about bands, youth subcultures and teen pop idols. The 4th Beat Film Festival kicks off with Teenage (2013) by director Matt Wolf, based on the groundbreaking book about adolescence by punk author Jon Savage. The film explores what it meant to be a teenager in the first half of the 20th century — the word was not coined until 1945 — and the various subcultures pioneered during that period. From fun-loving flappers to overzealous Nazi youths, the film gives a voice to mid-century teenagers and is set against a post-punk contemporary soundtrack.

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