GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design presents an exhibition of new and recent work by Russian and Ukrainian contemporary artists selected by curator, art critic and theorist Sergey Khachaturov.
Borderlands studies the fault lines of art and politics, challenging divisions between the territories of aesthetics and activism. Emerging and established artists from Russia and Ukraine present work concerned with change and conflict in their contemporary political and social situations.
The works on display range in media, encompassing film, sculpture and photography. Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova presents a brick sculpture that recalls the recently redrawn map of Ukraine. Russian artist and independent film director Evgeny Granilshchikov presents a video combining footage of real and fictional young Muscovites talking about their own lives, filmed on a mobile phone, while Nikita Shokhov presents visually distorted images of demonstrations and political marches in Moscow. Krasnodar-based ZIP art group explore the capability of contemporary art to transform social communities with an interactive installation.
Borderlands is part of GRAD Lab, an experimental project formed to facilitate communication between different disciplines and to build cross-cultural dialogue. Through artist talks, workshops, film screenings, walks, discussions and exhibitions, GRAD Lab addresses a contemporary shift of borders between art and action, art and activism, and art and life.
Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova presents a large scale, monumental sculpture, cut out from a brick wall of an abandoned factory. The outline of the sculpture is deliberately reminiscent of the shape of Crimea; its rough edges and fallen bricks suggest the breakdown of the Soviet Union and its economic collapse. One side of the wall is lined with original Soviet wallpaper, the other is blackened from fire damage. Created in 2014, as Russia commenced its military intervention in Ukraine, Kadyrova’s piece reflects the uneasy atmosphere of that time.
Kadyrova will be installing the work live at GRAD in the week before the opening on 19 March.
Through interventions, standalone works and longer-term projects, ZIP art group investigate the specific social systems particular to a place and the ways in which these can be altered by art. At GRAD, ZIP presents a new interactive project designed to encourage tolerance and the acceptance of ‘otherness’. Referencing the agitprop constructivist design of the 1920s, artists from ZIP group reinterpret the ideology inherent to the revolutionary ‘utility clothing’ of highly politicised leftist theatre. ZIP invites visitors to sit down and take educational tests which accompany the costumes on display.
Nikita Shokhov presents Without Dictatorship of the Gaze, a series of photographs in which he subverts the capacity of the photographic image to represent its subject from a single perspective. In the place of taking an instant photograph, he scans a scene for 41 seconds, producing a fragmented and distorted image. This process enables viewers of his work to see the subject from multiple viewpoints. Shokhov often selects official demonstrations and political marches as his subject matter, to draw attention to the ways in which events of this kind are often severely regulated in Russia.
Evgeny Granilshchikov presents two recent films at GRAD, which examine the influence of the contemporary political and social situation on individuals in Russia who are interrogating their own historical heritage. Unfinished Film (Reenactment) (2014) gives the initial impression that an actor reciting a monologue is faithfully adhering to a given text, but at the end of the film it is revealed that she has been transgressing in order to make political comment outside of the script. Courbet’s Funeral (2014) is a video-collage composed of footage filmed on a mobile phone. Incorporating real life footage with performance, Granilshchikov makes it difficult for the viewer to distinguish one from the other.