Moscow City Government
Moscow City Department of Culture
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Vadim Sidur Museum

Date: May 31 — June 30, 2019
Venue: Vadim Sidur Museum, 37A, Novogireevskaya St.

The Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Vadim Sidur Museum present PLEASURE MACHINE, the solo exhibition of Sara Culmann. The project has come as a fruit of the artist’s conceptualization of global processes, such as economical market and the development of technologies it encourages and the transformation of social relations, through the perspective of science fiction. The display is constituted by four elements, each a finalized and independent artist’s statement inspired by speculative fiction and to be addressed as such. In two galleries featuring the project the viewer will see an abstract metal object, a 3D print, a sculpture and mural spatial drawings.

The initial inspiration for the project was a short story by an American sci-fi writer Robert Sheckley The Necessary Thing. As the plot unfolds, the characters of the story keep using a machine that can produce any material object but, as it transpires later, only in one configuration. Sheckley’s story, as well as the discourse of science fiction in general, sets a shared context for the four elements of Culmann’s exhibition. The type of visual culture ’vernacular’ (natural) for science fiction is closely related to the vocabulary of pop culture, comic books, 3D graphics, as well as mass production of toys and souvenirs based on books of this genre. Culmann’s objects in the context of science belong to its semantic imagery and, accordingly, have been created on the patterns of its vernacular culture.

Thus, figurative sculptures of injured astronauts evoke the style of collectible figurines. Yet, their conceptual aspect is sharply different — Culmann conceptualizes them as an allegory of work injury, the subjugation as the essence of the relations between people and machines. As for her mural drawings, where the artist brings together caricature devices, formal elements of technical schemes, and comic book characters, one can find there a mean coyote from the Looney Tunes universe. Coyote is described in some sources as the main trickster hero of Native American cosmogonic mythology: among other things, he tried in vain to take over the cosmos, playing with stars and riding on comets.

The title of the project, PLEASURE MACHINE, is neither just an allusion to Sheckeley nor solely an eternal allegory of relations between humans and technology. It is also a formula observed by Culmann — all the history of progress has to do with building the machines of delights, i.e. a single grand utopian idea. The more refined is a human’s demand, the harder it is to adjust the mechanisms of functioning of a machine and to adapt it to one’s needs. Money, politics, human factor, interests of the others, and uncontrollable external circumstances begin to influence the process. What would be the outcome of this race, how it would influence the life of humanity and the whole planet — it seems that this would never be clear. In any case, the artist does not make any predictions and draws no conclusions.

About the artist:

Sara Culmann (born in 1981, in Kirovsk).
The artist’s scope of interests includes the sensual aspect of material world and the transformation of social and cultural stereotypes under the influence of economics and speculative notions of progress and technologies. She participated in a range of exhibitions, including The Birth of Asset (The Agency of Singular Investigations, 2018), IAM (Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, 2018), CITIZENSFIVE (Art Athina, 2017), Experience of Inhuman Hospitality (MMOMA, 2017), First Person (Amsterdam, 2017), «C.A.R.R.I.E» (N.I. Feshin Kazan Art College, Kazan, 2017), Extension of Space (HEP-2, 2015) et al.

Since 2019 she has been a resident of the National Academy of Arts, Amsterdam.

About Vadim Sidur Museum:

The Vadim Sidur Museum is the largest collection of works of the eponym — avant-garde sculptor, graphic artist, poet, and one of the major figures of the Soviet unofficial art. In 1989 the space at 37a, Novogireevskaya Str. officially gained the museum status. Since 2018 the Vadim Sidur Museum has been a venue of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Apart from the permanent collection, the Museum offers to the public a wide variety of cultural events including exhibitions of modern artists, concerts, and film screenings, as well as educational programmes and guided tours. All projects to take place at the Museum, organically coexist with Sidur’s oeuvre and ideas, contributing to the further development of independent art and new art forms.

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