An art installation about import substitution has appeared in the center of St. Petersburg today. While some are recalculating advertising budgets and monitoring news about global brands resuming operations in Russia, others are replacing [them].
In the evening, after the Biennale has closed, I meet a young woman in a nun’s costume in the square. She offers me a candle and shows me her work: an icon of the Seven Arrows Mother of God, before whose image one should pray for the reconciliation of warring parties. The artist does not want to give her name, because icon painters should remain anonymous; she says only that she came to Venice from Budapest. “Radio Svoboda?” She is surprised. “Haven’t you been shut down yet?” But so far only the Russian Pavilion and the luxurious exhibition space belonging to the Russian billionaire [Leonid] Mikhelson’s V-A-C Foundation have been shuttered in Venice. Posters calling for the complete cancelation of imperialist Russian culture hang on the walls here and there. The QR code on the posters opens a manifesto, whose authors suggest switching our attention to Ukrainian culture. This has already happened at the Biennale.
Source: Dmitry Volchek, Radio Svoboda, 26 April 2022. Photo by Dmitry Volchek for Radio Svoboda. Translated by the Russian Reader