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Moscow Museum of Modern Art

Doors open day. A mansion – a gymnasium – a clinic – a museum.
The 10th anniversary of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Date: December 16, 2009 – May 16, 2010
Venue: Petrovka 25

Project realized by the Museum and Yuri Avvakumov

On December 15, 2009, Moscow Museum of Modern Art celebrates 10 years of existence. The first serious anniversary is an occasion for summing things up, so we present a new display that includes more than 200 works by leading Russian artists from the Museum collection. These pieces created during the last 20 years reflect the whole diversity of Russian art of 1989-2009, its new conceptual approaches and means of expression. This exhibition project demonstrates some results of the Museum’s activities in collecting,
as well as its strategic priorities.

For these 10 years, we settled well in our home. The inevitable period of resistance between the old house and contemporary art exhibitions finally resulted in an attempt of a dialogue. The main character of the new display is the very building of the Museum at 25 Petrovka Street. This edifice in the historic centre of Moscow has seen frequent change of times and fates: first, it served as a MANSION for merchant Mikhail Gubin and his heirs (1793 — second half of the 19th century); then, it became a privileged GYMNASIUM founded by Franz Kreiman (1880-1904); afterwards, it was turned into a CLINIC — the State Institute of Physiotherapy and Orthopedics (1920-1958); at last, it was reborn as the Moscow MUSEUM of Modern Art (since 1999).

Deconstructing the classical principle of unity of place, time and action, the new display superposes various stages in the two centuries of the building’s history, alongside with latest tendencies in art. Our aim is to show how past incorporates in the life of subsequent generations, and to render these imaginary layers transparent.

The architectural decoration of the halls and the selection of works reveal the inmost connections between contemporary works and penetrating historic functions of different rooms. For example, hall #10 housed first Gubin’s counting office, then the gymnasium canteen, and then wards of hydro- and thermo-treatment in the clinic. Now this space embodies contemporary consumerism in the metropolis: the viewer sees works by various artists, including Marina Chernikova, Yakov Kazhdan, Alexander Kosolapov, Irina Nakhova, and Leonid Sokov, through wall-openings that resemble shop-windows. And the former Ballroom (#21) that hosted not only feasts, but school meetings and medical councils as well, keeps its unified space intact and is filled with pieces by Valery Koshlyakov, Oleg Kulik, Timur Novikov, Yuri Shabelnikov, Sergey Shutov, Alexander Vinogradov & Vladimir Dubossarsky, with their ironic reflections on Grand Art. The display also incorporates other important trends in Russian contemporary art, such as body and physicality, nostalgia and deliriousness, communication and muteness, identity and globalism, utopia and anti-utopia, mass-media clichés and cult of outcast, etc.

Among works selected for this project are many pieces that have never been exhibited within the walls of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Not to disclose all the secrets, we’ll name just a few here: «Tank» by Irina Korina, «Transparency» by Oleg Kulik, «Calvary» and «Forest» by Timur Novikov, «Bread» by Anatoly Osmolovsky, «Restoration» by Aidan Salakhova, «Biker» and «Cinema Hall» by Sergey Shekhovtsov, «Bedroom» by Anna Zhelud. To this, we should add videos by AES+F, Viktor Alimpiev, Bluesoup, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, and Rostan Tavasiev. Above that, there will be works by Nikita Alekseev, Konstantin Batynkov, Blue Noses, Alexander Brodsky, Francisco Infante, Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid, Andrei Monastyrsky, Gosha Ostretsov, Pavel Pepperstein, PG, Nikolai Polissky, Leonid Tishkov, Vadim Zakharov, and many other well-known artists.

The spaces, which were once chambers of a mansion, classrooms or hospital wards, and have now become halls of the museum, flow free one into another. The doors have been taken off the hinges; they are no longer obstacles and thus symbolize the absolute openness of the current artistic process. This includes openness towards the past that always leaves a trace. To help the viewer feel the breath of past centuries in the halls and corridors and glimpse the blurred outlines of genius loci, we have tried to recreate not only the image but also the sounds that accompanied the life in this house during more than two centuries. Voices of the past speak again in the ancient building, filling the space of the mansion with a new sensation of life. In this special atmosphere, even the most radical statements by contemporary artists gain a seemingly surprising background and solid base beneath.

 
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