Exhibition: From Russia with Love: Selections from the Thomas P. Whitney, Class of 1937, Collection of Russian Art
Mead Art Museum
Open until May 2017
Thomas Porter Whitney (1917–2007), a 1937 graduate of Amherst College, went to Moscow as a member of the US diplomatic corps during the Second World War. He married a Russian woman and soon became a connoisseur of the riches of Russian art and culture behind the public facade of the Soviet regime. When the couple relocated to the United States, in 1953, they were not allowed to export many cultural goods. Whitney began to collect rare books, manuscripts, and artworks in a systematic way only in the 1960s.
By the end of the 1980s Whitney had amassed over six hundred paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures by some 170 artists, most from the first half of the twentieth century. The collection he ultimately assembled represents the creative life of Russian cultural elites who, under the Soviet regime, were forced either to emigrate or to go underground to avoid persecution. Many of the artworks were purchased from émigrés who sold their possessions in times of financial need. The most significant works, however—including those on view in this exhibition—came from trusted galleries and auction houses.
Through the purchases he made, Whitney not only captured major trends in Russian art, but paid tribute to the multifaceted artistic currents—including sacred art, book illustration, geometrical abstraction, stage design, and the manifold treatments of representational motifs—that shaped twentieth-century Russian art. This exhibition presents highlights from Whitney’s collection, most of which he gave, toward the end of the century and near the end of his life, to his alma mater.
Organized by Bettina Jungen, Thomas P. Whitney, Class of 1937, Curator of Russian Art. Presented with generous support from the Julia A. Whitney Fund for Russian Art and Faye DeWitt.
Exhibition: Vincent Hloznik: Between War and Dream
August 16 – September 16, 2016
BBLA Gallery at National Bohemian Hall
321 East 73rd Street, 3rd Floor, New York City
Closing Reception: Thursday, September 15, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
The exhibition Vincent Hložník: Between War and Dream features 20 Surrealist-inspired linocut prints by Slovak artist Vincent Hložník from the series Dreams (Sny) (1962) on loan from Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale. They represent a turning point in the artist’s career as his figurative motifs—always related to the exploration of the human condition—began to take on more symbolic and metaphorical meanings. Detached human limbs, monstrous figures assembled from eyes and teeth, the Angel of Death, and threatening flanks of silhouetted and stylized archaic warriors signal unspecified danger, while angles and voids create an instability that marks the very real threat of annihilation, whether from war or nuclear arms.
Vincent Hložník (1919–1997) was a key figure in modern Slovak art as both a teacher and artist, and was responsible for establishing the Department of Graphic Art and Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava after joining the faculty in 1952.
This event is organized by the Consulate General of Slovakia in New York, Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale, with support of BBLA.
Viewing hours: Monday - Friday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
(Please note that BBLA’s exhibition space is occasionally closed for events. Call 212-988-1733 to verify access.)
Exhibition: “Thinking Pictures”: Moscow Conceptual Art in the Dodge Collection
Sep 06, 2016 - Dec 31, 2016
Voorhees Gallery, Zimmerli Art Museum
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
“Thinking Pictures” draws on one of the great strengths of the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. It presents the visually provocative objects that distinguish Moscow Conceptualism from the forms associated with its namesake, the canonical oeuvres of American and British conceptual artists, in particular. This exhibition focuses on more than 40 individual artists and several collectives who lived and worked in Soviet Moscow from the 1960s to the 1990s. They were concerned with the essential task of creating an audience in an environment that lacked galleries, critics, and a viable art market but had its own institutional framework—one that privileged painting (Socialist Realism).
The exhibition presents a diverse range of artworks by several generations of artists who responded to the experience of ideological conformity (and its dissolution) as it had been enforced within official art academies. Oriented toward irony and parody, but also toward serious speculation about the place of the individual in Soviet society and Western art history, artists engaged in a dialogue with the priorities of official culture on the one hand, and those of modernist, including conceptual, art in the West, on the other. They challenged the hierarchical ordering of media that characterized late Soviet modernity by redefining the role of visual thinking in the creation of installations and albums, as well as a process of self-archiving, to create a richly allusive visual and performative culture. The term “thinking pictures” (umozritel’naia zhivopis’) was coined by artists in the late 1970s to capture the new role played by painting in the post-conceptual era.
“Thinking Pictures” introduces contemporary audiences to these artists’ historical gambit and sheds light on the complex role visual art plays in the viewer’s own lives. Although a number of exhibitions devoted to the art of the Moscow Conceptualist circle have been organized in Europe and Russia over the past decade, “Thinking Pictures” is the first in the United States since Perspectives of Conceptualism in 1991, which traveled extensively and ultimately found a home at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. The Zimmerli exhibition features important works by major artists recognized widely in the art world (Eric Bulatov Ilya Kabakov, Komar and Melamid, Viktor Pivovarov), as well as such others at the center of this movement as Yuri Albert, Yuri Leiderman, Igor Makarevich, and Irina Nakhova. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
Organized by Jane A. Sharp, Research Curator for Soviet Nonconformist Art
The exhibition and accompanying publication are made possible by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund, The Thickman Family Foundation, and by donors to the Zimmerli’s Major Exhibition Fund: James and Kathrin Bergin; Alvin and Joyce Glasgold; Charles and Caryl Sills; Voorhees Family Endowment; and the Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation, Inc.-Stephen Cypen, President
September 21, 5-8pm / Exhibition Celebration
5pm: Curator-led roundtable discussion with exhibiting artists
SHERA is pleased to announce the latest exhibitions, publications and projects from member Rosalind P. Blakesley
In 2016 Rosalind P. Blakesley curated ‘Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and advised on its partner exhibition, ‘From Elizabeth to Victoria: British Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, London’ at the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
She published ‘The Russian Canvas: Painting in Imperial Russia, 1757-1881’ (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2016), 365 pp.; and ‘Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky’ (exhibition catalogue, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2016), 176 pp.
She was also granted an Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award for a PhD student to research questions of print culture, modernisation and urbanisation, using the Talbot Collection at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford as the prime research resource.
SHERA is pleased to announce a current exhibition curated by its member Magdalena Moskalewicz, “The Travellers: Voyage and Migration in New Art from Central and Eastern Europe”
The exhibition looks at travel in a region where freedom to travel was, until recently, a luxury available only to the very few.. The exhibition offer a reflection by contemporary artists hailing from the region—the former Eastern Bloc and the former Yugoslavia—often first- and second-generation migrants. 23 artists from 15 countries show how people, goods, and ideas flow between this part of Europe and other regions of the world. They tell the stories of holiday trips as well as distant journeys and migrations, focusing on a period from the mid-20th century until today, from the closed borders of the divided Cold War-era Europe to the capitalism-driven acceleration of the 21st century. By exploring these travellers’ multiple viewpoints, an extraordinary gift described by Edward Said, the exhibition aims to shed light on the contemporary identity of the region, and is a direct commentary to its current socio-political situation.
The exhibitions features works of: Adéla Babanová, Daniel Baker, Olga Chernysheva, Wojciech Gilewicz, Pravdoliub Ivanov, C.T. Jasper & Joanna Malinowska, Irina Korina, Taus Makhacheva, Porter McCray, Alban Muja, Ilona Németh & Jonathan Ravasz, Roman Ondak, Tímea Anita Oravecz, Adrian Paci, Vesna Pavlović, Dushko Petrovich, Janek Simon, Radek Szlaga & Honza Zamojski, Maja Vukoje, Sislej Xhafa
The show is on view at Zachęta–National Gallery of Art in Warsaw until Aug 21. Please find more information on the Zacheta National Gallery’s website.
Announcing a new exhibition this summer: “Etching Out Dreams: Contemporary Slovak Prints by Dušan Kállay, Kamila Štanclová, and Katarína Vavrová”
Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale, in conjunction with KADS New York, is pleased to announce its latest exhibition: Etching Out Dreams: Contemporary Slovak Prints by Dušan Kállay, Kamila Štanclová, and Katarína Vavrová
Elma and Milton A. Gilbert Pavilion Gallery at Hebrew Home at Riverdale July 27–October 23, 2016
Reception and Collection Highlights Tour: Sunday, October 9, 2016, 1:30–3 p.m.
Three contemporary award-winning Slovak artists will be featured, Dušan Kállay (b. 1948) and Kamila Štanclová (b. 1945)—both students of Slovak master Vincent Hložník (1919–1997)—and Katarína Vavrová (b. 1964), who studied with Hložník’s protégé Albín Brunovský (1935–1997). This exhibition will take place in conjunction with a separate showing of 20 linocut prints by Hložník from the Hebrew Home Art Collection, which will be on view in early September at the BBLA Gallery at Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street in Manhattan. Visit http://www.bohemianbenevolent.org/ for further information.
The graphic arts have long played a pivotal role in the history of Slovak art, before, during and after the Communist era. Key characteristics of modern Slovak art include figuration, narrative, the influence of Surrealism and an underlying sense of fantasy alongside an incisive, subtle social critique.
Kállay and Štanclová are both accomplished illustrators who have won multiple awards for book illustration, another tradition with a long, rich history in the Slovak graphic arts. Included in the exhibition are four etchings by Kállay, each rendered with meticulously fine lines and overlapping shapes that demonstrate his technical skill. Kállay often incorporates text into his prints, sometimes confusing the viewer as to which way is up and which down. The works contain an exquisite type of chaos, full of movement and shapes that suggest storylines, rather than depict a literal narrative.
Štanclová utilizes patterns and figurative motifs in her prints to explore evolving compositions and meanings. Rather than the traditional process of creating a drawing in advance of preparing an etching plate, Štanclová begins by drawing directly onto the plate, continuously developing and changing the image. She considers this process to be a diary that documents her artistic progress. Her etching Dances with the Wolves (2012), demonstrates her technique of repetition, trial, and error, as she uses the repeated shape of a paperclip to fill part of the space and to create complex layers.
Vavrová’s painterly etchings reflect her background as both a painter and printmaker. Her exquisitely delicate prints evoke a sense of quietude and human pathos, suggesting different emotional states and interpersonal relationships through the use of color and symbols. These dreamlike symbols appear in the background in the form of trees, birds, and other animals, highlighted with sparing dashes of color that contribute to the atmospheric mood of each work. Kállay, Štanclová, and Vavrová all graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava where the graphic arts department was founded by Vincent Hložník in 1952. Known for his humanistic themes, strong imagery, and clever use of spatial relationships in his prints, he reflected on the human condition and war. Hložník left an indelible mark on the next generation of Slovak graphic artists, perhaps most notably Albín Brunovský, who succeeded Hložník at the Academy and received international acclaim for his work.
KADS New York is a fine art print dealership with consulting practice based in New York City specializing in modern and contemporary Central and Eastern European fine art prints, offering collectors a wide range of prints created by renowned as well as emerging artists using traditional and non-traditional printmaking techniques. For more information, visit their website.
As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. Hebrew Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 12,000 elderly persons in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Call 718-581-1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours, or for further information please visit the Hebrew Home website.
This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale is pleased to announce its latest exhibition:
Making Continuity Contemporary: Eastern Europe in New York
Elma and Milton A. Gilbert Pavilion Gallery
March 13–July 17, 2016**
This exhibition featuring work by eight artists originally from Eastern Europe addresses themes of personal history, geographical dislocation, identity, and intellectual freedom. In different ways, each artist explores the disruptions and continuities in their cultural backgrounds, whether through pictorial abstraction, participatory projects, auditory or written language, or conceptual reinterpretation of cultural symbols. Their mediums also range widely and include hand-drawn animation and audio, chemigrams, painting, mixed media, photography, sculpture, and installation.
Maryna Bilak, a Ukrainian artist originally from the Carpathian mountains, came to the U.S. to study art at the New York Studio School in 2012. Using her knowledge of traditional Ukrainian textile motifs, she incorporates these patterns into 3-dimensional paintings in which she manipulates color and shape by folding canvas and in multimedia installations in which she assembles hand-painted stones.
Alina and Jeff Bliumis’s series “Casual Conversations in Brooklyn” (2007) engages questions of how cultural experiences and identities intersect. The photographers spent a day in Brighton Beach—home to a large Jewish and Russian-speaking community—and offered passersby the opportunity to choose from three different signs featuring the words “Russian,” “Jewish,” and “American,” or to create their own. On view are a selection of subjects photographed holding the signs they chose—sometimes more than two—to represent their cultural identity. Alina and Jeff Bliumis were born in Belarus and Moldova, respectively.
Yevgenia Nayberg, who grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, is represented by the painting “Bird Dictionary” (2011), a rumination on the process of learning a new language. Phrases in Cyrillic text are incorporated into the work, labeled as ordinary things: “regular person,” “regular landscape,” and “standard moon.” However, the reality is the opposite, and the work touches on the idea that learning a new language is strange and surreal for non-speakers. The artist also pays homage to Suprematism in another work on view, a triptych entitled “Happy Man Series” (2013).
Bulgarian-born artist Eva Nikolova references Balkan architecture in her hand-drawn animation and chemigrams—paintings on light sensitive paper—that construct narratives about memory and personal dislocation. In the animation “Zemya Zemya” (2008), the iconic architectural form of the Orthodox Christian church is seen through a series of free-associative events, leaving interpretation of the narrative up to the viewer. According to the artist, the title is a doubling of the Bulgarian word for earth, land, or ground and refers to the signage on rockets designating the missile type—ground-to-ground or surface-to-surface. The architectural images in Nikolova’s works function as cultural emblems—whether intact or seemingly dilapidated—and explore shifting identities.
Acclaimed illustrator Peter Sís’s work using the motif of wings references themes of freedom and liberation. In two illustrations from his adaptation of “The Conference of the Birds” (2011)—a 12th century Persian epic poem published by The Penguin Press—a surrealistic flock of birds in the shape of an eye that spreads across a richly colored surface, one blue, one yellow, demonstrates the process of journeying. Sís emigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia in 1982.
Diana Shpungin’s “You Will Remember This” (2011) is a hand-drawn animation derived from video footage of her father recorded several months before his death. In it he recounts anecdotes about life in Soviet Latvia, including the tale of acquiring his first car and the black market culture of the USSR in the late 1950s.
Leonard Ursachi’s drawings of bunkers and a maquette for “Fat Boy”—a large sculpture on view in Prospect Park in Brooklyn—engage what the artist describes as “the bunker mentality.” Ursachi’s native Romania is dotted with bunkers abandoned after the Soviet period—symbols that instill a sense of fear and the unknown. He defected from the country in 1980.
As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. Hebrew Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 12,000 elderly persons in greater New York through its resources and community service programs.
Museum hours: Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Call 718-581-1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours.
Further information please visit our website
Full catalogue available online: [https://artathhar.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/making-continuity-contemporary-eastern-europe-in-new-york/}(https://artathhar.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/making-continuity-contemporary-eastern-europe-in-new-york/)
This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
The Kolodzei Art Foundation presents: Dawn of Manned Space Exploration,
Photographed by Leonid Lazarev at The Harriman Institute, Columbia University
420 West 118 Street, 12th Floor, NYC
March 21 to May 20, 2016
Opening reception for the exhibition on Monday March 21 from 6 to 8 pm.
Leonid Lazarev is a well‐known Russian photographer, born in 1937 in Moscow. In 1957 he received the Second Prize of International Photo Competition during the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Cinematography (VGIK). Leonid Lazarev is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including Soviet Woman Magazine (1960), USSR Photo Exhibition (1961, 1962), the International Competition by New Time magazine in 1974, and participant of many exhibitions, including solo shows at PhotoSouz Gallery in Moscow (2008), at Angel Orensanz Foundation in New York (2010); at Russian Cultural Center (Washington DC). From 1961 to 1984 he worked for the International Youth and Students Festival in USSR as the special events photographer for USSR Ministry of Culture. Since 1985 he works as a syndicated photographer with freelance assignments for the Moscow City Department of Cultural Affairs. Photographs by Leonid Lazarev are featured in many publications and books, including Leonid Lazarev: Selected Photographs (2008) and Leonid Lazarev: Moscow ‐ Waiting for the Future (2009). Leonid Lazarev lives and works in Moscow.
In 2016 the Kolodzei Art Foundation celebrates 25 years of supporting Russian and Eastern European Art.
The Kolodzei Art Foundation, Inc., a US-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public foundation started in 1991, organizes exhibitions and cultural exchanges in museums and cultural centers in the United States, Russia and other countries, often utilizing the considerable resources of the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art, publishes books on Russian art, and provides art supplies to Russian artists.
The Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art is one of the world’s largest private art collections, and consists of over 7,000 works, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and videos, by more than 300 artists from Russia and the former Soviet Union. For additional information visit www.KolodzeiArt.org or email
St. Peter’s Church and the Kolodzei Art Foundation are pleased to present
What Remains: Asya Dodina and Slava Polishchuk at Narthex Gallery, St. Peter’s Church 619 Lexington Ave (at 54th Street) New York City
March 18 – May 9, 2016.
Opening reception on Thursday, April 7, 2016 from 6pm to 9pm.
The series What Remains by Russian-American artists Asya Dodina and Slava Polishchuk appeal to the viewer on both analytical and emotional levels: their philosophical reflections on art drive their artistic process, alluding to the ephemeral nature of contemporary society and to the passage of time.
Asya Dodina and Slava Polishchuk wrote: “Witnessing the destructive power of Hurricane Sandy and the unspeakable tragedies that it brought, we started our project What Remains. The project is addressed to the themes of loss and memory. Images of empty nests floating in nowhere; fragments of plants, drawn with graphite, juxtaposed to debris of the computers; cell phones, assembled on the canvas and then covered with splashes of paint. Images are symbols of lost lives and homes, but at the same time they are symbols of hope.” Personal and cultural memory acquire a spatial embodiment. The artists extract and elevate visual images from the past, dramatize and transform them in order to arrive at something more universal, something common to the entire human experience. Their artistic explorations and searches are very organic, being that they are brought forth by their internal need for creativity and driven by an original method of thought, giving rise to an intensely emotional condition later realized in painting and works on paper. Juxtaposition and collision of different styles, aesthetics, media, combinations of elaborate fine details, textures, and remnants of computers interweaved onto Japanese paper; the artists construct their artworks on the intensity of coexistence of opposite extremes, playing on the ambivalence of meaning, encouraging discussion of their work. Asya Dodina and Slava Polishchuk have been working on the series What Remains for the last five years.
About the artists:
Asya Dodina was born in Moscow, Russia. She received an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY), and a B.F.A. from The State Moscow Art Institute named after V. Surikov. Her awards and honors include the Medal of the Russian Academy of the Arts, and Project Grants from the New York State Council of the Arts.
Slava Polishchuk was born in 1961 in Klintsy (Russia) and worked in Moscow. He received an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College, CUNY; a B.A from Brooklyn College, CUNY, and diploma from the 1905 Art School in Moscow. His awards and honors include Project Grants for Exhibitions, the NY State Council of the Arts, NY; The Charles G. Shaw Memorial Award for Excellence in Painting, Brooklyn College, CUNY, NY; The Joan Mitchell Foundation Nominee; Jewish Artists Awards Finalist, The Ben Uri Gallery, London.
Asya Dodina and Slava Polishchuk work in collaboration since 2003, they live and work in New York.
Dodina and Polishchuk have had several solo/duo exhibitions. Their solo or joint works have been featured in many museums and galleries including: International Center of Arts, Remagen, Germany, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; Lithuanian State Museum of Art, Vilnius, Lithuania; The Russian Academy of Art, Moscow; Chelsea Art Museum, New York; B’nai B’rith Klutznic National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC; Kentler International Drawing Space, NY; Museum of Russian Art, Jersey City, NJ; Pace University Gallery, NY; Brooklyn College Gallery, NY; Hunter College Gallery, NY; The Alumni Gallery, St. Joseph College, NY; Künstlerforum, Bonn, Germany; Drawing Center, NY; Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette, LA; the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. Dodina and Polishchuk solo or joint works are in many museum and public collections including: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; Lithuanian State Museum of Jewish Art, Vilnius, Lithuania; Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, The Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Kolodzei Art Foundation, NJ; Brooklyn College Library, CUNY, NY; Pace University of New York, NY; Fox & Fowle Architects, NY; Safe-T-Gallery, NY; Moscow Union of the Artists, Moscow; Russian Academy of Art, Moscow; Russian Ministry of Culture, Moscow.
About St. Peter’s Church:
Saint Peter’s Church contributes to New York’s vibrant art scene by hosting rotating exhibitions in two prominent gallery spaces. Exhibitions typically explore spirituality in its broadest sense, provoking discussion regarding art’s place in culture, in spiritual thought and in daily life. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd (1977) at St. Peter’s Church is the only existing NYC environment designed by Louise Nevelson (born 1899 in Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire; died in 1988 in NY).
St. Peter’s Church 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th St. New York, NY 10022 http://saintpeters.org Gallery hours: daily 9:00 A.M. - 11:00 P.M
About The Kolodzei Art Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public foundation started in 1991, organizes exhibitions and cultural exchanges in museums and cultural centers in the United States, Russia and other countries (often utilizing the considerable resources of the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art), and publishes books on Russian art, For additional information visit www.KolodzeiArt.org or Email
Art and Nature Beyond the Wall
March 18–June 26, 2016
Opening: March 17, 6:30–10pm
Parco Arte Vivente (PAV)
Via Giordano Bruno 31
T +39 011 318 2235
parcoartevivente.it Curated by Marco Scotini
Closely linked to the Earthrise exhibition dedicated to the Italian artistic scene in the 1970s, the PAV is continuing its investigations into the pioneers of the relationship between artistic practices and the natural environment, this time moving towards the East and tracing a constellation of complementary experiences generated under Socialism. EcologEAST is the first exhibition in Italy presenting non-official, avant-garde artistic research working with the environment and spread throughout Central Europe: from Poland to the former Czechoslovakia, from Romania to Hungary and the former Yugoslavia. The differences in context, primarily from an ideological point of view, make it difficult to make their approach comparable with that developed by western Earth workers and Land artists, over and well beyond the appearance of the strategies used.
At the start of the 1970s, the topic of the environment which emerged in full in the West, did not appear to have been stopped by the Iron Curtain. This is not because the crisis in nature stood, by its very statute, apart from the economy, society and politics and, therefore, would be self-explanatory. But, on the contrary, precisely because the origins of its deterioration lay fully within these factors, it is necessary to ask ourselves what it is then that unites both the East and the West under this aspect. One of the fathers of political ecology such as André Gorz responded, instinctively, that the problem lies in both cases, in seeing “growth” as the answer to all ills.
In 1977, André Gorz wrote: “All those on the left who refuse to tackle the problem of equity without growth, demonstrate the fact that, for them, socialism is nothing more than the continuation, using other means, of capitalist social relationships and culture, of the bourgeois way of life and consumer models.” Precisely because the error lies in having taken over the production methods of capitalism, without changing them, Gorz concluded: “Growth-oriented capitalism is dead. Growth-oriented socialism, which closely resembles it, reflects the distorted image of our past, not of our future.”
Post 1968 counter-culture, technological innovation and the ecology debate were at the heart of a new radical trend which, from the second half of the 1960s saw a series of artists, in different regional contexts, developing a multiplicity of ephemeral practices (performative and conceptual) as direct actions taking place, mainly, within the natural environments at the margins of the cities and recorded in photographic documents or as exposés of pollution through videos or postcards, graphic maps and visual cosmologies as in the case of Sikora, the recovery of local traditions and recourse to organic materials, irrigation systems and community associations such as that inaugurated by the OHO Group near Šempas, or urban demonstrations with the involvement of the public, as in the case of the TOK Group in Zagreb.
The importance of these molecular actions lies in the reversed relationship between visibility and invisibility that they presented, as they also did with regard to the end of the humanist perspective that they pursued. The landscape was thus transformed almost imperceptibly, precisely because every hierarchy between humankind and nature is destroyed. But, above all, the underlying role of these actions was to provide the opportunity to indirectly criticize the political themes of the moment using, however, the concept of the environmental crisis which, as such, appeared to be detached from any expressly ideological implications. But, on the contrary, its aim was exactly that of promoting a political solution.
Works of Peter Bartoš (Slovakia), Imre Bukta (Hungary), Stano Filko (Slovakia), Ana Lupas (Romania), Teresa Murak (Poland), OHO Group (Slovenia), Pécs Workshop (Hungary), Zorka Ságlová (Czech Republic), Rudolf Sikora (Slovakia), Petr Štembera (Czech Republic), TOK Group (Croatia), Jiří Valoch (Czech Republic)
Realized with the support of Compagnia San Paolo.
Thanks to Marinko Sudac Collection, Zagreb; Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; MSU Zagreb; AMT Project Bratislava; P420 Bologna.