When Julia Chernysheva launched the Art.Is.You project, she was tired of hearing one thing: that there was no contemporary art in Russia.
“Every day I discover how many original and interesting people there are in Russia,” she told The Calvert Journal. “I work as an art director at a large creative agency and I am always searching for new talent. But even I don’t have the access or the opportunities to appreciate the vast richness and variety of artistic life in Russia.”
But despite this wealth of vibrant creativity, the country’s modern art scene is still struggling to fully establish itself. Russia’s vast expanses — as well as a lingering reluctance to embrace the internet as an advertising tool — means that usually only specialists know about local artists, particularly away from the country’s major metropolises.
“We don’t have a lot of ways to find out what’s going on in the art world outside in the towns where we live,” Chernysheva says. “Usually you have to pick up information [about new shows or artists] bit by bit, or even by old-fashioned word of mouth. The situation is so absurd that even art critics don’t always know what’s going on in the next city or region over.”
Determined to fight back, Chernysheva and her team launched the Art.Is.You project: a series of short films documenting Russia’s upcoming contemporary artists.
Starting with Moscow-based artists Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov and Marina Rudenko, they hope to film at least 30 episodes across the country, complete with English subtitles. A further three documentaries, filmed in St Petersburg, are already in post-production. But each short episode is about more than promoting Russian art to the world — they also aim to capture and document modern creative processes.
“Contemporary Russian art doesn’t get enough support,” says Chernysheva. “At the moment, most people on the team are working solely because they believe in the idea. But this is allowing us to create an absolutely unique and original project, something which has no analogue in Russia in terms of quality of scope. [We want to create] an original interactive museum of modern art. We don’t want to just have art in exhibitions spaces — we want to take it online.”