Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
The State Tretyakov Gallery
Hostages of Voids
Aesthetics of Empty Space in Russian art during XIX–XXIth centuries
the opening of the exhibition – September, 23
Project lead: Irina Lebedeva
Curators: Kirill Svetlyakov, Kirill Alexeev
- Elena Voronovich
- Anna Dikovich
- Serguey Yepikhin
- Serguey Kulikov
- Olga Kuprina
- Tatyana Provorova
- Alyona Rasskazova
- Natalia Sidorova
- Galina Yudina
In association with: 16th LINE (Rostov-upon-Don)
The art of the 20th century is dominated by the concept of Void. Fear of and craving for the Void were equally appealing for artists active in the 20th century, causing critics to reach the conclusion that «empty space» or «nothingness» was perceived as a typical environment or habitat of modern man, no matter how much it was «stuffed» by mass media content.
The predominance of the concept of Void can be explained in several ways:
- Absence of a genuine mythology, resulting in «absolute negativity» (G. Bataille);
- Iconoclastic attitudes of contemporary artists as a response to the industrial-scale approach to production of artistic images and a panacea for the spectacle-like nature of mass culture;
- Loss of the referent, triggered by expansion of mass-media techniques; and
- A crisis of representation stemming from the criticism of «pure visuality».
Nevertheless, with growing interest in empty spaces and a suspicion of vision, 20th century artists still worked to unveil empty space in order to actualize the moment of visual apprehension and make visible the process of contemplating the art object. This is how the Void was «canonized» to become the sine qua non of driving the viewer’s reflection and self-reflection. The concept of the Void in Russian art of the 20th century also built around literary heritage works such as Chaadayev’s «Philosophical Letters» and the writings of Sologub and Kharms.
The purpose of the project is to explore origins and trace the history of empty spaces in Russian art of the 20th century (post-Suprematism) until modern art of the noughties, and to study the inner structure of empty spaces and their evolution as they occur in both traditional and new media, contrasting pictorial and graphic shapes against installations and videos.
This will be the first effort to «touch a nerve» and describe the aesthetic unconscious of Russian culture to shape a cohesive history of the Russian art of the 20th century, which is primarily perceived as disconnected separate segments, fragments, or stand-alone projects.
The exposition will include 7 thematic sections, in which legacy artworks will be contrasted with modern artworks. As an epigraph for the exhibition, a small corpora of 19th century artworks will be placed on display.
I. 1920–1950s – Visual Horizons and the Power of the Void.
II. 1960s Metaphysics and Surrealism.
III. The Concept of the Void in Moscow Conceptualism.
IV. Filling the Empty Space: Voices, Silence, and Trivial Activities.
V. “The Empty canon”.
VI. Residual, Lateral, and Peripheral Vision;
VII. Non-Spectacular Practices; Non-Vision as an Imaginary Emptiness;
VIII. New Media: Empty Messages and Criticism of Communication.
Contemporary artists – participants of the exhibition:
- Ilya Kabakov
- Viktor Pivovarov
- Andrey Monastyrsky
- Oleg Vassiliev
- "Collective Actions" (KD) group
- Igor Makarevich
- Nikita Alexeev
- Youri Albert
- Irina Nakhova
- Viktor Skersis
- Serguey Shabavlin
- Pavel Pepperstein
- "Inspection: Medical Hermeneutics" group
- Olga Chernyshova
- Ivan Chuykov
- Alexander Yulikov
- Eugeny Ahs
- Kirill Ahs
- Arkady Nasonov
- Semen Faybisovich
- Anton Olshwang
- Anatoly Osmolovsky
- Anton Litvin
- "Siniy Soup" group
- Dmitry Gutov
- Igor Mukhin
- Alexander Sokolov
- Valeriy Aisenberg
- Konstantin Adjer
- Diana Machulina
- Nadezda Anfalova
- Alexey Kuripko
- "We" movement
- "Where do the dogs run?" group
- and others