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BROTKunsthalle, 18.01.-25.02.2012
Russian Renaissance

AES+F, Vladimir Anselm, Alexander Brener amp Barbara Schurz, Bulnygin, Blue Noses, Kirill Chelushkin, Sergey Chilikov, Ivan Gorshkov, Rina Grinn, Dimitry Gutov, Polina Kanis, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Oleg Kulik, Lena Lapschina, Victoria Lomasko / Anton Nikolaev, Anatoly Osmolovsky, PG Group, Victor Ribas

Curators
Hans Knoll, Vasilina Verdi

We use the term Renaissance to define the well-known European art-movement. If we combine this term with the adjective «Russian», we get a super-complicated semantic construction. Let us see, what it means#x2026

According to the eminent literary critic Dmitry Likhachev, the Russian Renaissance «was only prepared, but for some reasons wasnapost materialized in time and acquired long-term, diffuse nature». So we could trace Renaissance in any historical period of Russia from 15th century till now. For example, Nikolay Berdyaev proclaimed the beginning of the XX century as a starting point for the national «spiritual renaissance», expressed in the humanaposs struggle for «the spiritual culture liberation from the yoke of social utilitarianism». We all know what was the result of this ideological battle from «The Internationale» hymn: «This is the eruption of the end/ Of the past let us make a clean slate/ Enslaved masses, stand up, stand up/ The world is about to change its foundation». In 1922 Nikolay Berdyaev was deported from Russia on the board of the legendary «philosophers#x2019 steamer»(1) - the conception of Renaissance was definitely changed in Russia.

During the years of Perestroika, the punk-band «The Stupids» shook the country with the new, post-international hymn, named quotRussian Renaissancequot. The song refrain was about Russian #x201Cbig bad guys#x201D who will sooner or later wake up from their sweet lethargy and show Europeans and the democrats what exactly a real #x201CRussian renaissance#x201D means. The at first glance absurd word usage illustrated new contextual opportunities for this phrase: as a metaphor of awakening and blossoming of something, as a kind of mental disease diagnosis, as something very spontaneous and frustrating and finally, as something on the edge of vulgarity (as a pathetic title for the porcelain dinner set). Russian Renaissance #x2013 is something beautiful in ugly surroundings with any hope for salvation, as a rose in a shit.

Starting with the post-perestroika period and another crash of reality, a nation once again plunged into the search for the delirious idea of the rebirth of Russia. On this occasion, the media compared the country with a patient who is more alive than dead and is in urgent need of resuscitation. But whether the team of rescuers was not very skilled, or the patient was too ill, for some reason, instead of healing, the country has acquired a number of clinical complications and chronic diseases.
These medical metaphors accurately describe the nowadays state of Russia, which sleeps in coma, like a beautiful bride in the fairy tale of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The enchanted country is waiting in a beautiful crystal coffin for her rescuer #x2013 Prince Yelisey. However, besides the fabulous bride, in a crystal sarcophagus rests another Russian quotSnow Whitequot, the leader of the world proletariat and communism godfather #x2013 Vladimir Lenin. And perhaps, in anticipation of the destiny kiss, too...

There are many different «Russias» - the Tzar time Russia, the Soviet#x2019, the Putin#x2019s etc. And every time we talk about the Renaissance or rebirth, the question arises: what kind of country you are going to revive, to whom is it necessary to give the invigorating kiss and the rejuvenating apple? And for many years political and cultural forces are deciding what should be Russia.
In this complicated and extremely dramatic situation artists, visionaries and culture protagonists cannot stay aside. Everyone is trying to solve this burning question for himself.

The Austrian curator and gallery-owner Hans Knoll, who is researching and monitoring the Russian




 
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