Exhibition architecture: Form Bureau
Exhibition curators: Diana Dzhangveladze, Maria Doronina
The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents its 20th anniversary exhibition. The project MMOMA 99/19 brought together 20 specialists in different fields of science and culture — from theatre directors and musicians to scholars and restaurateurs. Lead by the MMOMA curatorial team, they have come up with their special perspectives on the extensive Museum’s collection of Russian art, which vary depending on their professional activities. The guest curators of the anniversary project are Mikhail Alshibaya (medicine), Aliona Doletskaya (media), Andrey Malakhov (TV), Vladimir Mukhin (gastronomy), Olga Treyvas (architecture), Diana Vishneva (dance), Alisa Khazanova (cinematography), Fedor Konyukhov (navigation), Ilya Lagutenko (music), Andrey Artemov (fashion), Oleg Voskoboinikov (history), Frédéric Malle (perfumery), Kirill Serebrennikov (theatre), Keti Chukhrov (philosophy), Fedor Smolov (sport) and a voice assistant Marusia (information technology). The guest curatorial team also includes the director of the Centre Georges Pompidou Bernard Blistène, a British artist Martin Creed, the President of the Russian Academy of Arts Zurab Tsereteli representing the ‘art’ field as such.
The MMOMA anniversary exhibition starts with the words Vsyo Budet Khorosho (Everything Is Going to Be Alright) that have already turned into a sort of motto and heart-lifting promise both for the Museum and the city at large. Martin Creed’s installation, being the Russian version of his famous work Everything Is Going to Be Alright appeared over the front face of the Museum venue at Petrovka in 2010. The Neon light of its letters has been chosen as the datum point for the architectural concept of the MMOMA 99/19 display. Light is the key element that runs through the display that is housed on entire three floors of the Museum mansion. This leitmotiv casts a different ‘light’ on the métier of curators assigned to particular spaces.
The second floor starts with the gallery curated by Aliona Doletskaya and focused on media and the problem of communication. In a metaphorical way, this space voices one of the major motifs of the MMOMA 99/19 project — the principle of interaction, dialogue and cooperation. The fragments of different professional communities, different types of creative thinking, as captured in a Comme des Garçons fashion show and Anna Zholud’s work, synchronize and involve the viewers into a dialogue with them and each other. The next gallery curated by Fedor Konyukhov presents works featuring a personal narrative on his many journeys. The series by Yuri Vikulin, hyperrealistic works by Sergey Shablavin, The Circle by Alexander Samakhvalov’s evoke not only the idea of a journey around the world but also the imago mundi in general. What the viewer sees next is a scientific lab — the AI gallery curated by the voice assistant Marusia. Works by Taisia Korotkova, Antonina Baever, Igor Shelkovsky were selected either for their direct relation to the digital environment as such or for their association with the neighbouring fields. The fifth space, one by Vladimir Mukhin, revolving around Gastronomy dwells on the quest of self and one’s place in life. This gallery brought together such artists as Maria Agureeva, Irina Korina, Svetlana Vorontsova-Velyaminova, those whose individual style crystallized during the 2000s, the epoch when there was much concern about the problem of forming one’s self-identity, induced conventionality and the want of alternative ideologies and environments. The Literature section curated by Vladimir Sorokin presents the artists of the Moscow Conceptualism. It is in their circle that the writer, when following the career of a book illustrator, spent his early years. Yet, the theme that the gallery addresses is not nostalgia but the concepts of surface. Moscow Conceptualists endowed image with new meanings, by introducing text into it. The nature of surface, as visualised in the works by Nikita Alekseev, Irina Nakhova, Pavel Pepperstein, Ilya Kabakov, Komar and Melamid, from the very start rhymes with the process of writing. The 7th gallery — one by Andrey Malakhov — explores the images aired on TV, which easily evolve in response to fashion, public moods and expectations of the audience. And the protagonist, whose story we follow on the screen, transforms as well. Drawings by Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso, paintings by Natalia Goncharova and Boris Grigoriev, and an enamel by Fernand Léger produce an allusive narrative about Malakhov’s professional experience. Still, they also tell us about his personal choices as art collector. Other works in this selection evoke the aesthetics of Pop Art with its focus on the images of media and consumerist culture: one can find them in the artworks by Keith Haring, Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe. Further on, the viewer steps into the space meant for the contemplation on the indispensable harmony between emptiness and fullness, end and beginning, the inner and the outer. Frédéric Malle, the curator of the Perfumery section, has selected the artists who were always in search of perfect harmony between the colour and the form (Joan Miró), in the signs of infinity (Alexander Calder, Viacheslav Koleichuk), in the unbreakable bond between the concept and its physical realisation (Tamara Ter-Ghevondyan). In the next gallery, seeing Andrey Grositsky’s work Composition with a Shovel, an attentive spectator will guess right that they have found themselves in the space connected with a historian’s métier. Oleg Voskoboinikov addressed themes and concepts that are somehow related to his principal field of study — Middle Ages. His major focus is the problem of an individual’s place in the Universe, which is examined through the dialogue of medieval and contemporary realities. These themes are encountered in the art of Michail Grobman, Dmitry Prigov, Yuri Sobolev, Mikhail Shvartsman, Dmitry Pyatnitsky. The 10th gallery has been created with the participation of a curator and the Director of the Centre Pompidou Bernard Blistène. The works on display in this gallery have been selected as a result of the People’s Choice special project that had been launched in mid-1990s, with the viewers’ choice taking place in 2019 at the Komar & Melamid exhibition. However this time it is a solo project by Alexander Melamid, whereas instead of a new selection of works we see 2 artworks from the MMOMA collection that Bernard Blistène has chosen specifically for the show, acting on one premise that both should be by one and the same artist. Kirill Serebrennikov’s gallery dwells on a range of controversial themes that have been burning issues for two recent decades and still ring true today. The Theatre section features documentary photos by Timofey Parschikov, Georgy Pervov and Sergey Chilikov, Alexander Brodsky and Francis Bacon. Essentially farcical images by Konstantin Zvezdochetov, Artem Loskutov, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe not so much provoke a conflict, as they shift the intensity of its tension, challenging by means of absurdism the clichés of the everyday.
The third floor begins with the aesthetics of the 1980s and the new wave, which is the focus of Ilya Lagutenko as a curator. In his Music gallery the viewers feel as if carried away to a perfect ‘hangout’ with its carnival absurdism, colour disco floor and improvised visual element. The iconic musical composition from 1982 created by Prince Roger Nelson with its words: ‘So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine’ is the key point for the development of Lagutenko’s display. It’s on such a dancefloor, and nowhere else, that one can expect to see the eccentric images by Saint-Petersburg New Academy artists, Alexander Kosolapov, Victor Pivovarov and costumes created by an indie fashion designer Sergey Chernov for the performances of Sergey Kuryokhin’s Pop-Mechanics. In the Cinema gallery curated by Alisa Khazanova the viewer feels akin to being in a dark cinema hall, with the film already started, where one should guess the right direction by rare glowing objects. A small lithography by Wassily Kandinsky and a four-channel video installation by Marina Chernikova, Vladimir Stenberg’s design for the Man with a Movie Camera, drawings by Oleg Vassiliev and the painting by Petr Belenok dwell on the dynamics of cinema language. The fashion gallery curated by Andrey Artemov offers, perhaps, the most personal perspective. Serge Golovach’s series transports the viewer into our metropolis of the 2000s with its easy-going splendour and unlimited opportunities, and today these photographs look like archaeological artefacts from a strange epoch. However, a ‘fashion’ on working in line with traditions, the reinterpretation of accents are the very element of the present that we see and encounter on a daily basis. The functional method envisaging complex analysis of the artistic and practical functions of a space inspired the leitmotiv of the Architecture gallery. Designing an impromptu Ancient Roman amphitheatre with works by Francisco Infante and Nonna Goriunova, Lev Nusberg and Rimma Zanevskaya, Kirill Kto, Michail Grobman, its curator Olga Treyvas introduces the viewer within a narrative, while reserving for him the part of a guest visiting permanent residents of the Museum building — artworks from the MMOMA collection. The Dance gallery, whose curator is ballet dancer Diana Vishneva, introduces the visitors to the art’s overcoming the boundaries between illustrating movement and the movement itself. Pablo Picasso,Alexander Rodchenko and other artists from the MMOMA collection create an illusion of fluidity of form, a sort of a timeloop where movement has neither beginning nor end. The curator of the seventeenth room Medicine, the cardiac surgeon Mikhail Alshibaya confronts his passion for collection with his love of anatomy, and draws a parallel between collecting objects and memorizing latin names. Works on display in this gallery literally ‘rhyme’ with his personal collection: visitors shall see works by Alexander Yulikov, Moisey Feigin, Yuri Zlotnikov, Mikhail Roginsky, Oscar Rabin and other Soviet Nonconformists. The thematic leitmotiv of Keti Chukhrov’s Philosophy gallery is art in the space of political statements. Selected works by Victor Alimpiev, Arseny Zhilyaev, David Ter-Oganyan seemingly fix the balance on the brink of speaking aloud and hushing up.
The final gallery of the third floor display is dedicated to Sport: its curator, Fedor Smolov, has chosen works that speak of movement, confrontation, of the game as a way of knowing oneself and the world around. Divided into two ’teams’, the works of iconic avant-garde artists of the early 20th century (Wassily Kandinsky, Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova) and contemporary artists (Georgy Ostretsov, Vladimir Mironenko, Sergey Shekhovtsov, Anastasia Ryabova) find themselves involved into the everlasting confrontation of tradition and innovative movements, which has no winners and losers.
The display closes with the gallery curated by Zurab Tsereteli, the founder of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, whose collection jumpstarted the history of the MMOMA in December 1999.
One more gallery presents best fragments from the Museum’s visitors books spanning its entire 20-year history voiced by the MMOMA staff. The anniversary project involves a dynamic educational programme both for experts in the field and wider audience, as well as visitors with physical disabilities. The anniversary project will see a series of public educational events with the participation of guest curators and also an inclusive programme organised as a part of the Special View Programme of the Art, Science and Sport Charity Foundation.
Impermanent thematic permanent-collection displays is an important part of the MMOMA exhibition strategy. Exhibitions featuring selected artworks from the Museum collection created by either Museum inhouse or guest curators have passed on a regular basis since 2009. By now, eight large projects from this series have had seen the day, whereas the new, ninth display MMOMA 99/19 is intended to expand this interdisciplinary practice of presenting the permanent collection.