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
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
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.
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.
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.