Cергей Гуськов
Time of crisis brings new self-organized artist initiatives in Russia
«Russian Art Focus»
During 2022 there has been an emergence of several new important creative initiatives within Russia as a direct response to the deep social and cultural existential crisis experienced by the nation at large.
Samara is a cultural city on the artistic map of Russia where two new art spaces have appeared since February this year. They are projects by local art entrepreneurs and husband and wife team, Ilya and Snezhana Mikheev, who established an apartment gallery called ‘Outskirts of Samara Contemporary Art MI’ also known by its acronym OSSI ‘MI’. This is no light or airy space. You could call it a black cube, suggesting a different kind of artistic activity. In September one of the Mikheev’s neighbours placed an old, unopened suitcase in the centre of the gallery, from which photo albums, documents and autobiographical notes were scattered on all sides suspended from threads. In November, Voronezh-based artist Mikhail Dobrovolsky exhibited a series of surrealist paintings depicting a cannibal's dinner.
Выставка "обед"
Михаил Добровольский

осси "МИ"
A few months later, the Mikheevs opened their second space, called the Starukha Art Zone (Starukha means ‘Old Woman’ in English). If OSSI ‘MI’ is essentially a traditional gallery in a residential area, this second space is more out of the box. Starukha is a popular district in the city which takes its name from one of its streets, ‘Stary Zagory Ulitsa’. The new venue is in the basement of a residential building, next to ‘Red and White’, a chain of affordable Russian off licences. The organizers like to use it as a reference point for new visitors (‘it’s the first door on the left of the off-licence’). To attend an art event at Starukha you need to pay an entrance fee or sign an agreement that you will come again to the next art event. However, if you do not come, you will be fined 500 roubles or blacklisted and not allowed in again.
Выставка "без названия"
Антон вейс

хз "Старуха"

This artist-run space is literally ‘10 square metres of art’, as the Mikheevs put it. It is a training ground for artists who manage it themselves without a curator. There are no established values, no obvious markers of taste, there are no openings with drinks or other usual trappings of an art institution. There is just one focus at the centre of their mission. The Mikheevs support ‘arte povera’ in its broadest possible definition, lifted out of any historical context and at Starukha there is a nonstop open call on repeat button. Its goal: to attract ‘arte povera’ in whichever form it may manifest itself. There is an appetite for openness and experimentation. It’s all about art which is excluded from the art market and there is no place for commercial art sales.

The first exhibition in the space was a playful critique of the outdated post-conceptualist approaches characteristic of the leading Moscow art schools such as the ICA founded by Josef Backstein and Anatoly Osmolovsky’s (b. 1969) Baza Institute. An alumnus of the latter, Fyodor Dubrovin (b. 1985), photographed Baza’s educational space and instead of printing out the photographic images, he printed out the text of the properties and code taken from the photos on the hard drive of the computer. These 'snapshots' were put on display at Starukha on 24th of July, and a week later the artist put on display similar 'photographs' which he took at Starukha’s exhibition space. At the beginning of September, a local artist, performing under the pseudonym Pusto (Empty), invited visitors to a game of hopscotch. She drew the numbers in boxes laid out in the traditional way on the floor. At the end of October, local artist Anton Weiss (b. 1997) covered three walls and part of the ceiling with abstract works, using a mechanical process, hoping to arouse emotions among the viewers.

Сергей Гуськов

Журнал «Russian Art Focus»

Выставка "8 фотографий иси база"
Федор дубровин

хз "Старуха"