Slavs and Tatars
The European Biennial of Contemporary Art. With more than 55 international artists, it includes new works for various public spaces throughout the city of St. Petersburg. The project critically responds to the current social-political circumstances, its conflicts and complexities in Russia and Ukraine. A series of time-based projects will intervene in the city and its cultural, historical, and social complexity with context-responsive commissions and debates, events, pop-up shows, and discursive platforms as an integral part of the exhibition.
Curator Kasper König
The public program is curated by Joanna Warsza
The Chief Curator of MANIFESTA 10 Kasper König, together with Prof. M. Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum and Hedwig Fijen, Director of Manifesta, announced the curatorial approach and the artists participating in MANIFESTA 10, and made statements on current political circumstances.
The main objective of MANIFESTA 10 is to introduce contemporary art, with all its complexity and criticality, to the State Hermitage Museum. The Biennial is composed of the exhibition, which will be located in the General Staff Building and the Winter Palace, alongside a substantial public and education program. MANIFESTA 10 will reflect on the changes that have taken place within art and society since the fall of the Berlin Wall, presenting highly varied artists’ positions, and taking into consideration the current geo-political situation. Two-thirds of the exhibition will be located in the General Staff Building — the Hermitage’s newly renovated wing of modern and contemporary art — and one-third will be in the Winter Palace.
The Director of the Hermitage Prof. Piotrovsky has said: “Manifesta in St. Petersburg is a unique opportunity for audiences to broaden their ideas about contemporary art and its possibilities. It offers the opportunity for local and international people to come to St. Petersburg and engage with the program and dialogues. Preserving bridges and cultural connections is very important today, especially because the situation is not at all conducive to this.”
Hedwig Fijen commented: “Under Kasper König’s curatorial direction MANIFESTA 10 provides an inspiring and challenging exhibition and an extensive public and educational program of activities. As a nomadic European biennial we choose to operate within contested areas, outside the ‘safe haven’ of the ‘West,’ and do so because we believe art provides an alternative perspective and reflection on society. Manifesta stands for artistic independence and has a responsibility to art and artists and those who wish to engage with the context in which we situate ourselves. Our work is one of debate, negotiation, mediation, and diplomacy, that does not shy away from the conflicts of our time. At a time when everything tends to be read through a geo-political lens, art is there to provide complexity and nuance.”
Announcing a list of more than fifty-five international artists, with more than thirty-five specially commissioned artworks and projects, König commented: “MANIFESTA 10 will be a complex exhibition and project, with participants aiming to grapple with all the possibilities that art offers, and that approach the breadth of perspectives that it presents and opens up. This exhibition aims to inspire discussion and raise questions, and I have no doubt that it will have an impact even after its closure in the autumn of 2014. The artists in this edition of Manifesta were chosen because they represent, and have helped develop, key strands in contemporary art in the West and in Russia. For this reason they are not easily categorized. In a museum as historically diverse as the Hermitage, it was only fitting to select a diverse and complex array of contemporary positions.”
Among the group of participating international artists, Russian-born artists Vadim Fishkin, Elena Kovylina, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Timur Novikov, Ilya Orlov and Natasha Kraevskaya, Pavel Pepperstein, and Alexandra Sukhareva will contribute to MANIFESTA 10. Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe (1969–2013) was a leading St. Petersburg-based drag performance artist, best known for his impersonations of prominent figures including Marilyn Monroe, after whom he was nicknamed. Visitors will also see videos from “Pirate TV,” an early Perestroika self-made TV series, founded in collaboration with Timur Novikov in 1989.
Elena Kovylina will present her video installation Egalite, which comments on endangered democracy in Russia today and points to the many double standards in post-Soviet society. Other participating artists will include Ukrainian-born Boris Mikhailov, one of the leading photographers from the former Soviet Union. For his new project for MANIFESTA 10 titled The Theater of War. Second Act, Time Out, Mikhailov visited Kiev’s Maidan Independence Square, the camp of Ukraine opposition.
The works of three women painters Marlene Dumas, Nicole Eisenman, and Maria Lassnig, will be exhibited in the Henri Matisse rooms of the Winter Palace, while Matisse’s works will be relocated to the General Staff Building.
Dumas (South Africa) has conceived a new series of portraits of notable cultural figures, whose achievements can be celebrated above their identification as homosexual men. The resulting gallery will feature such icons as Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Jean Genet, among others.
Artist Tatzu Nishi (Japan) is renowned for transforming our experience of monuments, statues, and architectural details. Nishi will present a site-specific project in the Zapadina room of the Winter Palace, in which a domestic room, furnished in a typical, Russian style, will envelop one of the grand Winter Palace chandeliers. Visitors will be able to enter the sculpture and experience the domestication of the imperial interior setting.
Thomas Hirschhorn (Switzerland) will create a new work Abschlag, in which a block of six, identically sized ‘living rooms,’ will be constructed in the General Staff Building. Reminiscent of communal apartments of the Soviet era, the cross-section will display a selection of constructivist paintings.
Belgian-born Francis Alÿs’ project is based on a nostalgic recreation of the artist’s failed teenage attempt to drive from Brussels to Moscow in a Lada 1500. The second try will see the courtyard of the Winter Palace as the journey’s new and final destination.
Recognizing the unique opportunity to work in one of the greatest museums in the world, Lara Favaretto (Italy) will create an installation inside the elegant, Italian antiquities galleries where her works will punctuate the permanant display.
A car with a blinking neon sign mounted on the roof flashing ‘No? Future!’ will drive through the streets of the city throughout the Biennial. Spanish-born Jordi Colomer’s project echoes the fairground pitch, the official proclamation, the demonstrator’s slogan, the military order, and the religious sermon.
A seminal, but rarely seen work by Joseph Beuys (Germany), Economic Values (1980), is a monument to the past reality of Eastern Europe. The work is a statement of Beuys’ belief that the inner needs of a human being should be met first through the ‘production of spiritual goods’ in the form of ideas, art, and education, rather than in commodities.
The works of many exhibition artists like Beuys, Bruce Nauman, and Gerhard Richter, long mainstays of the art scene, have rarely been shown in Russia. Both König’s selection of artists and his curatorial practice spans generations. The themes dealt with by participating artists range from gender and sexuality, to social relations, history, and everything in between, united by their wit, intelligence, and their open-ended critical attitudes.
Kasper König has invited Joanna Warsza to curate the MANIFESTA 10 Public Program. The program will critically respond to the current socio-political circumstances; its conflicts, complexities, and the place of art within them. Contributing artists who have been commissioned to present performative projects include Pavel Braila (Moldova), Lado Darakhvelidze (Georgia), Alevtina Kakhidze (Ukraine), Ragnar Kjartansson (Iceland), Deimantas Narkevičius (Lithuania), Kristina Norman (Estonia), Ilya Orlov and Natasha Kraevskaya (Russia), Alexandra Pirici (Romania), and Slavs and Tatars (Eurasia).
MANIFESTA 10 will also include “Unlooped—KINO,” a film program devised by Nathalie Hoyos and Rainald Schumacher from Office for Art (Berlin). The program concentrates on surveys and anthological mini- retrospectives, including works by exhibiting artists. At the same time, the program aims to give an art historical insight into the major developments of time-based media (film/video) from contemporary art over the past decades. Each program is developed in cooperation with leading time-based media collections.
The exhibition catalogue will be published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König in English and Russian editions of approximately 300 pages each. It includes contributions by major figures in art criticism and curating, such as Ekaterina Andreeva, Helmut Draxler, Ekaterina Degot and Silvia Eiblmayr, as well as short sections on each exhibiting artist.
The Public Program will critically respond to the current social-political circumstances, its conflicts and complexities, and the place of art within them. A series of time-based projects will intervene in the city of St. Petersburg and its cultural, historical, and social complexity with context-responsive commissions and debates, events, pop-up shows, and discursive platforms, as an integral part of the exhibition. Because the Program provides an opportunity to engage with the urgency of unfolding geo-political circumstances, the full list of the contributors and places is in flux.
Giving context to her program within the Manifesta project as a whole, Warsza has said:
“MANIFESTA 10 is in fact one of those moments when art really is especially needed if it wants to engage in a critical way with the complexities and conflicts of our time. The projects will obviously not represent the position of the Russian government. I believe that as long as we can work in a complex manner and in a context-responsive way, and as long as we — curator, artists, team — are not exposed to self-censorship, and not intimidated or restricted, we will continue to do so. In this contested time, one should not equate people, and our audiences, as equal to their governments.”
The invited artists mostly originate from cities of post-Soviet and post-communist Europe including Vilnius, Tallinn, and Kiev. These cities are all accessible by train from St. Petersburg’s Vitebsky Station, which will be a key venue for the Public Program as the first train hub in Russia to connect the East and West — its name bearing homage to the famous city of the early twentieth century Russian avant-garde.
The Public Program also refers to the role of the private, the public, and their respective social and political contexts during the USSR era, as well as in the current post-Soviet condition and geo-political situation. During the Soviet Union, ‘public’ (understood as a critical exchange of free thoughts) almost exclusively took place at home universities, secret political gatherings, and through inner emigration and apartment exhibitions — where unofficial, nonconformist, engaged art was hosted as a form of resistance.
One of the projects will be an exhibition on Apartment Art as Domestic Resistance, cocurated with St. Petersburg-based art historian Olesya Turkina and located in one of the former communal flats.
Artists contributing with time-based performative works:
Pavel Braila (Moldova), Lado Darakhvelidze (Georgia), Alevtina Kakhidze (Ukraine), Ragnar Kjartansson (Iceland), Deimantas Narkevičius (Lithuania), Kristina Norman (Estonia), I lya Orlov and Natasha Kraevskaya (Russia), Alexandra Pirici (Romania), and Slavs and Tatars (Eurasia).
A number of artists and participants will engage in public events, including:
Anna Baumgart and Andrzej Turowski (Poland), Kathrin Becker (Germany), Anna Bitkina (Russia), Ekaterina Degot (Russia), Glyuklya (Russia), Pavel Arseniev (Russia), Emily Newman (USA/Russia), Jonathan Platt (USA/Russia), Rimini Protokoll (Germany), Aaron Schuster (USA), Mierle Laderman Ukeles (USA), and many more to be confirmed.
Staging a dialogue between the informal and the official, the Public Program will look into St. Petersburg’s history and present, investigating the intricacies and contradictions of the city, revealing local idiosyncrasies, and exploring ideas of the private, the public, and the political.
Image: Gerhard Richter, Ema, Akt auf einer Treppe (Ema, Nude on a Staircase), 1966. Oil on canvas, 200 x 130 cm. Museum Ludwig (ML 01116, Cologne). Photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln.
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Press Preview 26 June
Professional Preview 27 June
The State Hermitage Museum
General building Dvortsovaya 6-8 St. Petersburg, Russia St. Petersburg, Russia