[artinfo] The Seven Sins: Ljubljana-Moscow, Dec 20 2004 - Feb 28, 2005

by way of Janos Sugar inke.arns at snafu.de
Thu Dec 9 00:10:23 CET 2004

Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana
20 December 2004 - 28 February 2005

Participating artists: Natalia Abalakova & Anatoly Zhigalov, Pavel 
Aksionov, Yury Albert, Alexander Alexeev & Tatiana Dober, Victor 
Alimpiev, Julieta Aranda & Anton Vidokle, Vladimir Arkhipov, Joze 
Barsi, Viktoriya Begalskaya, Goran Bertok, Blue Noses, Borghesia, 
Buldozer, Janez Burger, Aristarkh Chernyshev & Vladislav Efimov, 
Collective Actions, Cramp in the Leg, Zvonko Coh & Milan Eric, Vuk 
Cosic & Davor Bauk, Vuk Cosic & Alexei Shulgin, Domestic Reasearch 
Society, Gennady Donskoy, Nusa & Sreco Dragan, Vladimir Dubossarsky & 
Alexander Vinogradov, Alexander Ermolaev, Escape, Vadim Fiskin, 
Kostja Gatnik, Karpo Godina, Bojan Gorenec, Davide Grassi, Mirko 
Grobler, Marina Grzinic & Aina Smid, Dmitri Gutov, Hidrogizma, 
Bostjan Hladnik, Jasna Hribernik & Zmago Lenardic, Inspection Medical 
Hermeneutics, Otar Ioseliani, Irwin, Bogoslav Kalas, Galerija
Kapelica, Maxim Karakulov (Radek Community), Ziga Kariz, Marlen 
Khutsiev, Viacheslav Koleichuk, Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid, 
Valery Koshliakov, Alexander Kosolapov, Marko A. Kovacic, Elena 
Kovylina, Sergei Kuryokhin (Pop Mechanica), Oleg Kuvaev, Laibach, 
Tomaz Lavric, Yuri Leiderman, Georgy Litichevsky, Lojze Logar, 
Vladislav Mamyshev - Monroe, Boris Mikhailov, Peter Mlakar, Mumiy 
Troll, New Stupids, NOM, NSK, OHO, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Alen Ozbolt, 
Pankrti, Marko Peljhan, Alexander Petlura, Matjaz Pocivavsek, Tadej 
Pogacar, Nikolay Polissky, Marjetica Potrc, Dmitri Prigov, Franc 
Purg, Tobias Putrih, Konstantin Reunov, Mikhail Roshal, Victor 
Skersis, Joze Slak - Doka, Klavdij Sluban, Leonid Sokov, son:DA, 
Stripcore, SZ (Victor Skersis & Vadim Zakharov), Victor Skersis, Nika 
Span, Igor Stromajer, Miha Strukelj, Marko Sustarsic, Apolonija 
Sustersic, TAF Studio, Avdei Ter-Oganian, Slavko Tihec, Leonid 
Tishkov, Polona Tratnik, Trekhprudny Gallery, Savo Valentincic, 
Visual Anthropology Workshop, Saso Vrabic, Tao G.Vrhovec Sambolec, 
V.S.S.D., Yevgeniy Yufit, Alexander Zeldowich, Yuri Zlotnikov, Dunja 
Zupancic & Dragan Zivadinov, Konstantin Zvezdochetov

Exhibition curators: Zdenka Badovinac, Viktor Misiano, Igor Zabel
Opening reception: Monday, 20 December 2004 at 8 p.m.

Moderna galerija Ljubljana
Tomsiceva 14, SI-1000 Ljubljana
Tel: (+386-1) 2416800
Fax: (+386-1) 2514120
info at mg-lj.si

The last decade has seen many professional, and very friendly, contacts between
Ljubljana and Moscow that were not merely incidental but have rather resulted
from time-honored associations and affinities between Slavic nations and from
their shared experience of similar sociopolitical circumstances.

The exhibition Seven Sins: Ljubljana - Moscow proposes to explore the various
dimensions of contacts between the two cities and to underscore the continuity
of cooperation between them and their shared interest in similar aesthetic
concepts. Both cities and cultures essentially belong to a common context that
has been described as the Eastern European culture. Geographical position,
particular traditions and character of both Moscow and Ljubljana, however,
indicate how wide the range of issues and contents of such a culture 
actually is.

The continuity is particularly evident in the shared interest in similar
aesthetic concepts since the beginning of the 20th century (the Russian
historical avant-garde had a great influence on Yugoslav art, and also the
so-called neo-avant-gardes of the 1960s and 1970s (such as the Russian group
Collective Actions and Slovene group OHO) were, to a certain extent, heirs of
these movements).
It is also important to point at the similarities, as well as particular
differences, between the concept of the retro-avant-garde in Slovenia and the
so-called Sots-Art in Russia.

Since Moscow and Ljubljana both belong to a common cultural (and 
social) context
of Eastern Europe, the exhibition addresses the very issue of this 
context. What
exactly is "Eastern European culture," which are its basic characteristics, its
identity? The issue of identity has proved to be a highly 
controversial one, and
the exhibition deliberately deals with its ambiguous nature. It presents "seven
sins" that are, supposedly, typical for Eastern Europe, and thus common to
Russian and Slovene artists. These "sins" are Collectivism, Utopianism,
Masochism, Cynicism, Laziness, Unprofessionalism, and Love of the 
West. They can
be - from an outside, presumably Western point of view - understood as
weaknesses and imperfections, but they are also "virtues," qualities that
Eastern, Slavic countries can contribute to European culture to make it more
diverse and rich. For example, utopianism is an antidote to pragmatism,
stressing the dimension of hope and future perspectives. Laziness gives artists
time to concentrate on themselves and the questions that obsess them. Since
eastern artists often are not real "professionals," they can really love what
they do, etc. The seven "sins" ("virtues") have, in fact, been strongly present
in the cultural production of Eastern Europe in the last decades.

The exhibition will thus not focus on presenting an objective history; rather,
it will outline history through a number of narratives connected to the issues
of identity, difference and transformation. Thus it will also stress the
present: both in terms of contemporary views of history and of the fact that
most of the participating artists will be contemporary artists from Moscow and
Ljubljana, primarily those who are a logical conclusion to the line from the
early 20th century avant-gardes to this day. The project pursues the line of
work first adopted by the Moderna galerija for its collection Arteast 
2000+; the
latter presents Moderna galerija's international collaborations to establish
links between Eastern and Western Europe that will eradicate the borders which
had until recently separated them in the sociopolitical and cultural sense.
While most of the exhibited works will understandably be works of visual art,
the exhibition will also include important achievements from other fields, such
as film, architecture, design and pop culture.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue with texts
written by Russian and Slovenian writers (Inke Arns, Boris Groys, Slavoj Zizek;
texts on the "seven sins:" Svetlana Boym, Ekaterina Bobrinskaya, Eda Cufer,
Ekaterina Degot, Victor Mazin, Renata Salecl, Marcel Stefancic, jr.).

The idea of collectivism has been essentially connected to the communist system
and its heritage. The property was collective, as well as the structure of
society. Societies of the "really existing socialism" have been (often rightly)
criticized fot the lack of the space of the individual and his expression.

Art in Eastern Europe, too, has been essentially connected to the idea of the
group, belonging to a collective social (or spiritual) body, as opposed to the
prevailing individualist positions in Western Europe and even more in 
the United
States. The idea of collectivism in the social states, however, was not
necessarily homogeneous. Inside the collective societies, there were numerous
parallel worlds that were based on the idea of the collectivism as the basis of
both artistic and intellectual production and social life.

The section will include presentation of artistic groups (often in the form of
archives), especially those that developed the collective approach and
collective authorship in their work. It will also include works that deal more
or less directly with the issue of collectivism in its different forms.

Communism as idea and social experiment has been tightly connected to the
tradition of utopian thinking (Marx and Engels, and a number of 
Marxist thinkers
after them). In spite of that, Russian and several other revolutions faced the
task to construct a just, harmonious and rationally organized and ordered
society from the scratch, so to speak, and thus to make a utopian plan true.

Far from being any kind of pre-modern societies, socialist countries have
brought the modern utopian ideals of a just, ordered and rationally 
planned (and
controlled) society to an extreme point, exposing contradictions that are an
intrinsic part of the conceptual foundations of modernity.

The section will present works that express the utopian view on society and art
or understand themselves as parts of such utopian projects. It will 
also include
works that - often ironically - reflect the contradictions of utopianism (and
indeed modernity). An important part of it will be also personal, sometimes
esoteric utopian worlds of individual artists.

There have often been reproaches to Eastern artists and intellectuals 
(not least
in East itself) regarding their exaggerated "masochist" position, their
acceptance of the role of suffering victims in repressive systems. 
masochism could be understood as a strategy in the context of power relations
and conflicts, a way of social and political resistance. At the same time,
masochism can be also an attempt to oppose the pressure of production (e.g. in
long, painful and meaningless work that, nevertheless, gives a special pleasure
only by itself).

The section will include works that deal with masochism as an actual sexual and
social practice. It will also include body art and art projects with obsessive
senseless production, as well as works that deal with masochism as a way of
disclosing the strategies of power and as a way of resistance against 
those strategies.

While power in the modern world represents the most explicit form of cynicism,
art and culture can use cynical attitudes against it. In this way, cynicism of
art can be understood as liberation from dominant attitudes, ideological
prejudices, taboos, etc. In this context, cynical disrespect implies 
almost purification. It is an attitude that offers new possible 
responses to the
limitations and ideological patterns in political, social, cultural 
and personal

The well-known phrase, "They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work,"
describes the societies in socialist countries as highly inefficient. People
were supposed unwilling to do any work due to the lack of (positive and
negative) stimulation and differentiation between the hard-working 
and efficient
ones and the lazy and inefficient ones.

Artists' fascination with laziness, and their own deliberate laziness, have
reflected the contradictions of a society that had declared to be rationally
organized, effective and highly productive, while it had been based on the fact
that people only "pretended to work." And yet these artists 
discovered important
values in laziness as a counterpoint to obsession with productivity and
efficiency, and, most important, to subordination and instrumentalization of
one's activities in a compulsory search for success.

Laziness can represent liberation from the obsession with success and 
career. It
is, above all, a different structure of time, an empty, meaningless 
flow of time
that can become a form of enjoyment and a basis for art not constructed to be

The unprofessional attitude that has allegedly been characteristic for Eastern
Europe has been reflected in work of artists that are interested exactly in the
potentials of such attitude.

First, to be a non-professional can imply a sincere and "loving" (amateur)
relation to a certain field. The unprofessional and non-professional attitudes
developed by artists and social groups are directed against structured working
processes and procedures, established relations, but also against market. They
imply joy, improvisation and creativity.

Artists also have the possibility to enter numerous fields where they are
certainly no professionals, and work within them and with them, offering
possible new aspects, approaches and views, and sometimes also criticisms.

Love for West
East - West relations, both of the Cold War and post-Cold War times, have been
based not only on direct power and political relations, but also on 
relations of
love/hate, desire, etc. Such relations determine the very idea of East Europe,
and an Easterner is unavoidably caught in complex relations towards and with
West. Art, too, has been essentially determined by its relation to West as the
desired, and at the same time hated, Other.

West appears in fact as a phantasmal image, our positive projection of freedom,
abundance and enjoyment. On the other hand, it is accused of being responsible
for the hard condition of living and working, lack of international success of
Eastern artists etc., briefly, for its lack of interest, knowledge and
involvement, as well as for its ambitions of domination.

OPENING HOURS: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6. p.m.
PRESS CONTACT: Adela Zeleznik, tel.: (+386-1)2416808, fax: (+386-1) 2514120,
e-mail: adela.zeleznik at mg-lj.si

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