News from Garage | September 2021
On September 10 Garage opened two new shows: the first Russian exhibition of Thomas Demand. Mirror Without Memory, featuring collaborations with German philosopher, writer, and filmmaker Alexander Kluge, Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architects SANAA, and Stirling Prize-winning British practice Caruso St John Architects; and the group exhibition Spirit Labor: Duration, Difficulty, and Affect. The press conference that took place on September 8 at Garage included presentations by the exhibition curators and Thomas Demand, who was present, and special video greetings from SANAA and Alexander Kluge.
Russian and German-speaking readers of this newsletter can watch the greeting by Alexander Kluge here, in which he speaks about the dimension of time, his relationship with Thomas Demand and his works, and Kluge’s own video works presented at the exhibition.
Curated by Katya Inozemtseva, Mirror Without Memory comprises several fragments spread across two floors of the Museum. The exhibition on the ground floor focuses on Demand’s comprehensive exploration of the model: its life cycles, inner dynamics, the regimes of its synchronization with physical reality. Nagelhaus, a project by Thomas Demand and Caruso St John Architects, is presented in the Atrium as a huge model and an artifact of the story of the losses it represents. The Lab space brings together architectural models by SANAA and prints of Demand’s photographs from his Model Studies series, which was shot in SANAA’s studio, creating a particular dynamic between the models and their images.
On the first floor, this energy of dialogue produces different forms. It includes hanging cinema structures designed by Thomas Demand that show films by the artist’s long-time friend and collaborator Alexander Kluge. Kluge’s films are video sequels or video interpretations of three works by Demand displayed as part of the exhibition—Repository, Five Globes, and Ruine/Ruin. The main part of the exhibition brings together works from the period 1991–2021. The last series was made especially for Garage and examines the story of Edward Snowden. Demand’s exhibition is a complex systemic reflection not only of subjects selected in collaboration with the architects and Alexander Kluge but also of reality itself and our ideas about it, which are regulated today by unreliable memory, general conventions regarding events of one kind or another, and subjective experiences.
Architects from Grace worked in collaboration with the exhibition team to create a seemingly traditional white cube space, but one which features the unconventional use of Thomas Demand’s signature material, white paper.
Spirit Labor: Duration, Difficulty, and Affect, curated by Snejana Krasteva and Andrey Misiano, concentrates on the relatively small segment of contemporary art that is dedicated to investigating and challenging the durational dimension of its agents and explores the many different aspects of what duration(al) can mean, from endurance and body art to conceptual practices. The title in English, Spirit Labor, has been borrowed from the eponymous film essay by British curator and performance historian Adrian Heathfield, in which he traces a special kind of labor that transpires in artistic practices “inclined toward elemental exposure and non-human forces.” The Russian title of the exhibition, In Service to Time, offers a slightly different perspective, drawing our attention to the durational aspect of such practices; to the turbulent human dependence on the only truly non-renewable resource: time.
Spirit Labor brings together 30 artists from different generations across Southeast and Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern and Western Europe. It includes works that result from the focus on viscous, problematic, unhistorical time and can be hard to make and live through, such as those made gradually throughout the artist’s entire life (for example, the practice of Tehching Hsieh). The exhibition also touches on the inner psycho-emotional work of the artist, something that can lead to great effort and colossal difficulty, the overcoming of which often produces affect.
The exhibition design, developed in collaboration with architects from Grace, encourages an almost “confessional” confinement with each artwork by placing them within separate cubicles made of concrete, the visual and technical properties of which were originally conceived to be very much “in service to time.”
From August 23 to 26, 2021, Garage organized the 2nd Forum of Contemporary Art Institutions in Samara, a city in the south of Russia located on the Volga River. The aim of the Forum is to foster professional communication and build horizontal connections between cultural workers from Russia and the Eurasian Economic Community. There is a particular focus on strengthening networks between institutions that bypass Moscow and St. Petersburg and thus contribute to the decentralization of the Russian contemporary art map. The program included 18 thematic sessions based on requests from more than 65 participating institutions. They included fundraising, audience development, government relations, and media coverage.
The Forum of Contemporary Art Institutions was launched by Garage in 2020 as an annual event based on CIMAM model. The Forum is nomadic: each edition will place in a city outside Moscow and St. Petersburg and will be organized in collaboration with local institutions and governments. The program of each edition is based on requests from participants. The first edition of the Forum took place online due to Covid-19 restrictions.
September saw a new intake on the master’s program Curatorial Practices in Contemporary Art, a joint project by Garage and the Higher School of Economics. This year 14 people started the two-year program. Students come from various backgrounds—including language studies, sociology, art history, design, management, and journalism—and various cities, such as Moscow, Murmansk, Yekaterinburg, Tomsk, Syktyvkar, Bugulma, Almetyevsk, Ulan-Ude, and Tashkent. In order to graduate, they will sit exams, submit a thesis, and work in teams to produce an exhibition project.
Garage has selected the winners of the Garage Digital 2021/2022 grant program. The program Situated Worlds invited artists and researchers to explore the idea of multiple coexisting worlds and ways of creating them, drawing on Donna Haraway’s theory of “situated knowledges.” The winners were selected from over 200 applications received from countries including Argentina, the UK, Germany, India, Canada, China, Colombia, the Netherlands, Russia, and the USA. They are Alice Bucknell (UK), Ivan Kurbakov (Russia), Sahil Naik (India), Anna Tagantzeva-Kobzeva (Russia), and Atractor Studio (Colombia). Due to the large number of high-quality applications, the program team decided to provide additional support for the project of Masha Danzis (Russia). Each winner will receive a budget for the implementation of their proposed project and the opportunity to publish it on the Garage Digital online platform.
The Garage Digital grant program aims to help artists develop projects, artworks, and theoretical research driven by an interest in new technologies and media.
The research section of the Russian Art Archive Network (RAAN)—the catalogue of documents on the history of Russian contemporary art from the collections of Garage and partner institutions—is constantly updated with new materials. Garage recently added three texts resulting from Garage Archive Summer research grant programs from 2017 through 2019.
Sabine Hänsgen’s text is the transcript of a “bio-interview” with the Russian poet and writer Igor Kholin (1920–1999) that she made in 1996 in order to document the artistic and literary life of Moscow for her personal archive. In summer 2017, Garage organized an exhibition of documents relating to the work of Kholin, who was a member of the Lianozovo group and a representative of concrete poetry in Russia, and that of his close ally Genrikh Sapgir (1928–1999). Marina Israilova’s article continues her study of apartment galleries initiated in collaboration with anthropologist Vita Zelenskaya, and focuses on Egorka Communal Gallery and Brown Stripe Gallery. Sandra Frimmel looks into the history of the Leonid Talochkin Collection of Nonconformist Art, focusing on the question of how state recognition of the Talochkin Collection came about, in what cultural and political circumstances it took place, and what the consequences were for the collector and his holdings.
In Search of Lost Sound. Experimental Sound Culture in Russia and the USSR in the First Half of the Twentieth Century by Andrey Smirnov was awarded the prestigious Innovation Prize as the book of the year. Written by Theremin Center founder Andrey Smirnov, the book explores the underrepresented history of sound and musical experiments in Russia and the USSR in the first half of the twentieth century. It was published as part of the series GARAGE.txt, a program launched in 2016 to support Russian-speaking authors writing on contemporary art and culture.
The Innovation Prize is the key state-supported prize for contemporary art in Russia. The exhibition of nominees and the award ceremony took place at the Volga-Vyatka branch of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Arsenal), Nizhny Novgorod.
CREDITS: Thomas Demand. Mirror Without Memory, 2021. Photo: Dmitry Shumov © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art; Preview of Thomas Demand. Mirror Without Memory and Spirit Labor: Duration, Difficulty, and Affect, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, 2021. Photo: Anton Donikov © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art; Thomas Demand. Mirror Without Memory and Spirit Labor: Duration, Difficulty and Affect, installation views, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, 2021. Photo: Ivan Erofeev © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art; Participants of the 2nd Forum of Contemporary Art Institutions, Samara, 2021. Photo: Anton Donikov © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art; Current students of the master’s program, Curatorial Practices in Contemporary Art, 2021. Photo: Ekaterina Avramenko © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art; Igor Kholin. Copy of a drawing by Viktor Pivovarov, 1987, Garage Archive Collection (Viktor Pivovarov archive); Andrey Smirnov. In Search of Lost Sound. Experimental Sound Culture in Russia and the USSR in the First Half of the Twentieth Century. Photo: Feodor Kandinsky © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art