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The Russian Schizorevolution: an exhibition that might have been
Curators: Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko
Artists: Lena Borsh, Sergei Bugaev (Afrika), Vita Buivid, T. Ebruoc, Denis Egelsky, Andrei Khlobystin, M. Killer, Evgeny Kondratiev, Oleg Kotelnikov, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Timur Novikov, Vadim Ovtchinnikov, Inal Savtchenkov, Slava Shevelenko, Ivan Sotnikov, Marta Volkova, en Oleg Zaika.
With the project focussing on the Flaneur, Marres completed her inquiries into the 19th century and aims her ambition at the 20th century and the idea of the Avantgarde. First of all, Marres points her attention to an avantgarde from Leningrad/St. Petersburg, which was active from 1985 to 1995. Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko are, both as curator and artist, the protagonists within this project.
In the anniversary year of the Futuristic Manifest the choice for Futurism would be a logical first option, but this could give the impression that the avantgarde can only be approached as an art historical phenomenon from a chronological perspective. For Marres the central question of actuality results in a perspective where it becomes possible, from an anthropological point of view, to unveil the system of production, distribution and reflection within art and design as well as to add to their questions. Starting from this notion, the somewhat more generic idea of the avant-garde as a radical fracture with an accepted system of values – an ‘Umwertung aller Werte’ – will be the first focus. Not the idea of movement or of classification, nor the perspective on the avant-garde as a utopia or dystopia has the interest; for Marres the attention is drawn to the shift itself, to the fracture as a productive force and to the potentiality referred to time and time again in a constantly renewing system of art and design.
First of all, Marres points her attention to an avant-garde from Leningrad/St. Petersburg, which was active from 1985 to 1995. In Western Europe this group is recognized as the start of the ‘Gorbi-art’. After a short hype this avant-garde is more or less forgotten in the West of Europe and the group of artists and activists are often merely seen as providing a context for the members with an international status like Timur Novikov, the most important protagonist, who had a solo-exhibition in the Hermitage at the same time as The Russian Schizorevolution took place . In retrospect this period can be seen as the beginning of the end of a world power and the communist ideology connected to it. It is beyond doubt that the small group of artists and activists from that city contributed an important part to the collective consciousness, which is so specific for this period of time and which is seen as a fundamental force behind this revolution. Coincidentally, two members of this avantgarde – Marta Volkova and Slava Shevelenko – have been living in Maastricht for some years, giving these ‘local’ artists the opportunity to materialise The Russian Schizorevolution, and to transform Marres step by step into a ‘total installation’ in the spirit of Ilya Kabakov.
Volkova and Shevelenko opted for an approach in which the idea of reconstruction takes a central place. The Russian Schizorevolution is, for Volkova and Shevelenko, a reconstruction of an exhibition that never took place, but that could have taken place. The different artistic strategies of the avant-garde of St. Petersburg from an era that can be described as bureaucratic as well as despotic, are taken here to their full potential in order to show the complex, but at the same time merry play with authorship and signature of this specific avantgarde.