The Russian Art Show

3 out of 5 stars
2012-07-25 3441 1.jpg
© Rena Effendi From the series 'House of Happiness' (2009) by Rena Effendi

This group show of eight artists features 'highlights' from the 'Innovation Prize' – a sort of Russian equivalent of the Turner Prize. Seemingly modest aesthetic gestures – particularly in light of the recent Pussy Riot furore – come from Alexandra Galkina and Andrey Kuzkin. Galkina addresses the politicisation of public spaces via a series of pencil rubbings of signs on official Moscow buildings.

Kuzkin's film depicts the artist straining as he walks in circles around a shallow pool of slowly solidifying concrete. Similarly straightforward is the delegated performance piece by collective Where Dogs Run, which has employed retirement-aged women to sit and knit in the gallery for the show's duration.

Of more interest is Rena Effendi's, brightly coloured photography series 'House of Happiness', depicting a community of women from the Ferghana Valley, a post-Soviet region experiencing a revival of radical Islam. Sergey Bratkov's film installation 'Balaklavsky Drive' is similarly strong. It pictures boys diving into polluted water to the soundtrack of a sinisterly cloying pop song. A mess of jagged concrete debris sits in the gallery in front of the screen – a physical reminder of the vulnerability of these youngsters.

This rather disparate, slimmed-down selection of work includes both nominees and winners, over seven years. When the choice of work has been so distilled, it inevitably gives rise not only to questions of taste but also to how representative of all contemporary Russian art this show is.


1 person listening