Electric Visions Part I: Waiting for a New Myth.

Curators' texts

Russian artists were for a long time without access to contemporary technologies. When they finally became available a great riot of productivity ensued. Now this technology is simply another option that artists are free to make use of in the service of a personal aesthetic. Waiting for a New Myth When considering Russian media art one must bear in mind that the technological revolution was a direct consequence of changes of a political origin.

In a country where historical periods are measured by the duration of regimes, the years after 1999, the time encompassed by our program, is seen as the era of Putin's dominance. During the time of Gorbichev, the political system was altered, while under Yeltsin the economic structure was the subject of modification. To see more clearly the effect this has had on civilization, one need only look at the access to computers, video cameras, and the internet that Russian artists have gained in a few short years. It is interesting that this happened just at the time they suddenly became free from the historical burden of the Soviet Union and its ideology. Rather than target society in general, as is often the case in the West, Russian artists have traditionally tended to address the state and its ideology. The choice was always between resisting it or disappearing in it, hating it or submitting to it, serving it or unmasking it. Whatever his position, he was unable to exist outside this drama. Nowadays owe all labor within an ideological vacuum, where neither government nor society have decided their true desires. This is an uncomfortable position to be in because every day we are faced with the question: what do we live for?

Some people recall with nostalgia the Great Myths of the past - the Imperial or the Soviet, the Christian or the Revolutionary. Today there is a great need for the heroic and people wish either to be one or to describe their exploits. Hence some artists try to engage in a European discourse, especially with the left - perhaps out of habit. Some make degradation their esthetic in an attempt to defy mediocrity and stupidity and in the new idiot we find an intimation of the ineradicable "sacred madman". At the same time, some simply try to embrace the new civilization and one can make out the traces of a new avant-guard within the framework of club VJing or TV advertising.

Marina Koldobskaya

An hour and a half is too little time in which to describe the full variety of contemporary Russian video art. Because the geography encompassed by the program is exceptionally broad - from capital to province - we didn't insist on a contribution from each region when making our selection. As a result, the program unfortunately doesn't include videos from cities like Ekaterinburg, Izhevsk and Nizhniy Novgorod, where many talented artists worthy of notice now work.

From the outset the authors of this program rejected the temptation to merely repackage frequently screened videos by well-known artists. And while many of the works included here have represented Russia at major international exhibitions over the past several years a concerted effort was made to provided a platform for the work of younger artists. Our primary objective was to present developments that have occurred over the past several years and continue to inform the current dialogue. We are hopeful that we have gone some way toward achieving our aim of representing contemporary Russian video art as it is today.

Maria Korosteleva

Thanks to: Elena Selina and xlgallery, Elena Tsvetaeva and the NCCA Kaliningrad, Natalya Gerasimova and the Prop Centre of the Philological Department (St. Petersburg State University), Olga Tomson and The "Russki Album" Foundation, and also to Anna Danilevskaya, Zhenia Kikodze, Ksenia Kochkina, Maksim Moiseev, Dmitry Shubin.

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