An original view as to the cause of Petersburg’s economic problems was evinced by Alexander Karpov, director of the ECOM Expert Center. “In the near future, Petersburg’s economy is not threatened with development. This is facilitated by two factors, external and internal. The external factor is the State Duma and its laws; the internal factor is [Petersburg Legislative Assembly deputy Vitaly] Milonov. Currently, the only possible scenario for economic development is a sluggish one,” he argued. “The city has to make a clear choice: either innovation or Milonov.” Karpov explained to Kommersant that he had in mind the famous anti-gay activist both as a specific person and as an embodiment of nutty legislative initiatives.
Church officials, city officials and MPs took part in the religious procession [in Petersburg on September 12]. Together with clergymen, they followed the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan as it was solemnly carried [down Nevsky Prospect]. Vadim Tyulpanov, Petersburg’s representative in the Federation Council, Legislative Assembly Speaker Vyacheslav Makarov, and deputy governors Vasily Kichedzhi, Vladimir Lavlentsev and Marat Oganesyan were spotted in the procession.
Famous deputy Vitaly Milonov was out in front of city leaders, however: he marched not behind the icon, like the officials, but ahead of it, in a group of clergymen carrying banners and crosses. Like the other priests, Milonov was wearing solemn gold vestments and bearing an enormous cross.
Editor’s Note. I’ve had it with “contemporary art” in general, not just Russian contemporary art or international art events held in Russia, fabled land of officially enforced homophobia. We think all people everywhere, progressive humanity and regressive humanity, the indifferent and the enthusiastic, everyone from Maine to Moscow to Melbourne, should boycott contemporary art. Otherwise, mouth breathers like the eurocuratorial nightmares caught shilling for the Putin regime in the article, below, will keep getting away with this fraud, which sucks up tons of intellectual, physical, financial, and technical resources that could be put to much better and more imaginative use elsewhere.
www.theartnewspaper.com Moscow biennial curator and artists explain why we shouldn’t boycott Russia While critics cry out against the country’s draconian anti-gay laws, cultural exchange is still important
By Sophia Kishkovsky
9 September 2013
Despite recent controversy over the country’s restrictive anti-gay laws, the curator of the Fifth Moscow Biennale says this is not the time to reject Russia. Her comments follow similar responses from the organisers of the Manifesta biennial, as critics call for a cultural boycott.
“I feel I am responsible to keep the platform going,” the Belgian-born Catherine de Zegher tells The Art Newspaper. The latest edition of the contemporary art exhibition opens on 19 September at the Manege Exhibition Hall.
De Zegher says that the biennale’s organisers have not placed any restrictions on what she can show. She adds that “only one or two” artists, whom she refused to identify, said they would pull out of the biennial because of the situation in Russia, but she convinced them to reconsider.
Visitors, however, are unlikely to see much art that aggressively confronts the country’s conservative laws. “I’m not a big believer in provocation,” De Zegher says. “Art that is very provocative is like fast food almost. It flares up, then it’s finished. Of course I do believe in activist gestures, and movement and action, but I think art works in a different way.”
Her comments echo those of the veteran German curator Kasper Konig, who is organising the next edition of Manifesta, Europe’s roving contemporary art biennial. Speaking at a news conference at the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg on 5 September, Konig said the 2014 biennial will avoid “cheap provocations”. A petition calling for the biennial’s organisers to choose another city, postpone or cancel the exhibition has drawn nearly 2,000 signatures. Manifesta has responded with a statement on its website, expressing concern about the anti-gay laws but stressing that the biennial is based on “dialogue with those with whom we may disagree”. The biennial’s founding director, Hedwig Fijen, says that isolating Russia is wrong “especially as it deprives younger people of access to a broader scope of voices and points of view”.
“I think the 20th century was very much about shock and awe,” De Zegher says. “We’re entering another age, where there is more about collaboration, collective thinking.” Artists at the biennale are addressing controversial issues, she said, “but they are in nobody’s face”.
In the Moscow Biennale for example, the Chechen artist Aslan Gaisumov’s work touches on the intersection of religion and secularity, Islam and its relationship with Western culture, but does so with a sense of the “ambiguity of the negotiation between cultures, between religions, between the sexes, between ethnicities”, she says.
The Polish-born artist Gosia Wlodarczak, who has been working in Australia since the 1990s, is coming to Russia for the first time for the biennial. She explains why foreign artists should come to Moscow now by recalling her days as a student in Poland, when Communist rulers tried to crush the opposition Solidarity movement with martial law.
“I remember how important it was when anybody actually came [to Poland] instead of avoiding us. Every visit from somewhere else meant that people cared instead of just abandoning you, leaving you to your own,” the artist told The Art Newspaper as she worked on her intricate glass drawing installation in Manege, where the Kremlin is always in sight next door, outside the windows. “Every visit was like a contribution, and every exchange of dialogue was valued, because that’s how things change.”
All you need to know about the Putin regime, packed into one minute and forty-seven seconds.
Gold shoelaces, flaming red hair, a provocative text on someone’s jeans. This evening, the attention of these police officers is directed to everything unusual. Operation “Leader” is underway. Its objective is to locate and neutralize teenage subculture groups.
It is said that these groups have recently begun acting particularly aggressively. The other day, for example, two classes at a school in Kirov staged a rumble, and now police inspectors have increased their vigilance to be on the safe side. Who knows what a girl with bright-green shoelaces might have in mind?
Girl: “I like the color green.”
The color of this young man’s hair also prompted the curiosity of the police inspectors. The young man calls himself a “punk.”
Female police inspector: “Why do you look that way?”
Punk: “Why do you look the way you do? I don’t ask you that.”
Male police officer: “Her hair isn’t dyed. Your hair is dyed. You stand out.”
Punk: “So I’m not one of the crowd. Give me a cigarette.”
Now the “punk” will be meeting more often with the folks in gray. The police have decided to screen him—to find out whom he associates with and whether he is involved in anything illegal.
Olga Yergina, Inspector, Juvenile Affairs Department: “As a rule, groups in Russia have a leader. [The leader] comes up with and hatches, say, a plan and proposes it to the other members of the group. Say, let’s commit the theft of some property or other or some things. As a rule, members of the group usually agree to commit the wrongful act, and so it turns out that they are guilty of conspiracy.”
This group of young people was also unable to hide from the inspectors. The teenagers do not admit to being skinheads, although several of them are already on file with the police.
Female police officer: “That one was born in 1995.”
Skinhead: “I’m fifteen.”
They claim they are well behaved: that they don’t drink and that they go in for sports sometimes.
The inspectors have their work cut out for them with this bunch, work that goes by the code name of “prevention.” The key now is to keep them from committing a crime or attending an unauthorized political rally. Although a written promise is a mere formality, teenagers have to be kept on a leash somehow, don’t they?