A guide to the New East


Malevich exhibition opens in Amsterdam gallery

23 October 2013
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Kazimir Malevich, Knife Grinder (1913)

A new exhibition will look at the history of Russian avant-garde art with a particular focus on one of the founders of the movement, Kazimir Malevich. The exhibition, Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde, will bring together work from the collections of Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum as well as Russian art collectors Nikolai Khardzhiev and Georges Costakis. Both Khardzhiev and Costakis amassed their collections during the Soviet Union when abstract art was forbidden. 

On display will be Malevich's oil paintings, gouaches, drawings and sculptures, including his most famous work, Black Square (1915). The exhibition also celebrates the centenary of experimental futurist opera Victory Over the Sun (1913), for which Malevich designed the set and costumes. The opera marked a turning point in the artist's career and is where Malevich first made his Black Square.

The exhibition will also feature the work of futurist artists Natalia Gonchorova, Mikhail Matyushin and Lyubov Popova, alongside modernists such as Marc Chagall and Wassily Kandinsky. Co-produced with Tate Modern, the show will mark the end of the year of cultural exchange between Russia and the Netherlands. Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde runs until 2 February 2014 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. 

Moscow exhibition looks at the body as protest

22 October 2013 · Moscow
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  • Boba-group, Living with Gadyach (2012)

  • Valera and Natasha Cherkashin, Mother Underground (1989)

  • Vad Krasnoŝek, from the series Made in USA (2013)

  • Evgeny Pavlov, from the series Violin No 3 (1972)

  • Evgeny Shaposhnikov and Vladimir Pavlov, from the series Parnografiya, 1998

  • Roman Pyatkovka, from the series Naked Games (1990)

  • Group Shiloh, from the series Escape Tymoshenko (2012)

Since the Seventies, Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkov, has been a hub for the country's artistic community. Now, Moscow's Lumiere Brothers Centre for Photography will be hosting an exhibition that brings together the experimental work of various photographers who lived in Kharkov between 1970 and 2010. Act of Disobedience: The Body as Protest comprises work that experiments with printing techniques, collages and more. As the title of the show suggests, the artists use the body as a tool of protest in their work.

As well as featuring veteran photographers such as Boris Mikhailov, whose portraits of the homeless in Kharkov document the social disintegration that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union, it also showcases the work of a new generation represented by artists such as Roman Pyatkovka who came first in the conceptual category at this year's Sony World Photography Awards. The show runs until 1 December at the Lumiere Brothers Centre for Photography. 

Arab art biennial to showcase work of Rodchenko and Osmolovsky

21 October 2013
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Anatoly Osmolovsky, Slogans Engels (2003)

A contemporary art biennial that focuses on the Arab World will be showcasing artworks from two prominent Russian artists  — Anatoly Osmolovsky and Alexander Rodchenko — at this year's event. Despite starting out as a presentation of art from the Middle East in 2004, Meeting Points Festival has expanded its remit in the wake of the Arab uprisings. This year organisers have decided to exhibit art that either contributes to change or helps redefine the existing social and economic order. 

Moscow-based Osmolovsky began his career as a writer before turning to performance art in the early Nineties as a way of protesting against the government, the judiciary, police and other powers that be. Rodchenko, who died in 1956 at the age of 64, emerged in the period that followed the Russian Revolution of 1917 and is credited with being one of the key exponents of constructivism. Several years later, he denounced traditional painting as dead in favour of poster design, photography and film, which he declared to be free from bourgeois subjectivity. 

As well as art and performance, the roving festival will host lectures in a number of cities from September 2013 to June 2014 including Zagreb, Antwerp, Hong Kong, Moscow, Beirut, Cairo and Vienna. This year's title, Ten Thousand Wiles and a Hundred Thousand Tricks, is from Franz Fanon's book Wretched of the Earth (1961) about Algeria's liberation from French colonial rule.  

Aerosmith frontman, ex-Spice Girl join Miss Universe pageant’s all-star cast

21 October 2013 · Moscow
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Emin Ağalarov. Photograph: Wikipedia Commons

An all-star cast of celebrity singers will be participating in Russia's first-ever Miss Universe beauty pageant in November, including Melanie Brown, aka Scary Spice from the Spice Girls, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and… Emin. That's not a typo: Eminem will not be performing. Instead, Emin Ağalarov, the 33-year-old son of an Azeri billionaire will be taking to the stage at the pageant. 

Emin may not be a household name, at least not outside of Russia and Azerbaijan, but he has some pretty strong links to the pageant. Not only does last year's Miss Universe winner Olivia Culpo feature in his music video for Amor, his billionaire father Aras Ağalarov owns Crocus Group, a holding company whose portfolio includes Crocus City Hall, where the pageant will be held. 

Brown will host the pageant along with MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, while Tyler, a former judge on American Idol, will head the panel of judges. US rock group Panic! At the Disco will also be performing. 

Strelka launches project to give new lease of life to Moscow neighbourhood

18 October 2013 · Moscow
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Winter sunset in Belyaevo. Photograph: Uzaok.ru

Strelka Institute has teamed up with a Moscow gallery on a project designed to give a new lease of life to Belyayevo, an old residential neighbourhood in the capital. Both Strelka and Belyayevo Gallery aim to promote the area as a cultural hotspot and in doing so help preserve the city's heritage. The large residential district in south-west Moscow includes over 400 hectares of housing that dates from the Sixties right up until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The concept behind the project, Belyayevo Forever, is based on a case study by Polish urban planner Kuba Snopek, which he used as part of his request to UNESCO to include Belyayevo on its list of world heritage sites. Although the area's generic apartment blocks means it is not an obvious choice for the list, Snopek argued that the usual criteria should be widened.

Belyayevo Forever will organise a variety of different events to promote the neighbourhood including walking tours in English and Russia; visits to the apartment of Dmitry Prigov, one of the founders of Moscow conceptualism; public lectures on architecture and urbanism; film screenings and more. 

Stanford University buys Joseph Brodsky archive from Lithuania

17 October 2013
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Josef Brodsky teaching at University of Michigan in 1972. Photograph: Wikipedia Commons

Stanford University has acquired eight boxes of letters, drawings, poems and more belonging to the Nobel prize-winning Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, from the archives of a Lithuanian family. The university's library acquired the cache from Ramunas and Elmira Katilius, who hosted Brodsky during a sojourn in Lithuania in 1966. Brodsky travelled to Vilnius shortly after completing 18 months of hard labour near the Arctic Circle for "having a worldview damaging to the state" and "social parasitism".

His visit marked the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the Katilius family as well as with Lithuania, where he frequently escaped to towards the end of the Soviet Union. The poet eventually emigrated to the US where he kept up his friendship with the family. While in the US, Brodsky taught at several universities and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987. He died nine years later at the age of 55.

The archive includes handwritten and typed manuscripts, drawings, letters, postcards and photographs. It also contains a samizdat collection of Brodsky's poetry in three volumes as well as his early attempts at writing poetry in English. 

Europe’s highest hotel opens in Russian Caucasus

17 October 2013
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Europe's highest hotel has opened on Mount Elbrus, a dormant volcano with an altitude of 5,642m, in Russia's Caucasus region. LEAPrus 3912 offers 49 climbers accommodation in four prefabricated fibreglass huts at a height of 4,000m. Two of the huts are for guests, a third houses staff and a restaurant, and a fourth serves as a communal bathroom with toilets and showers.

The hotel prides itself on being eco-friendly with a system that uses melted snow for sanitation and solar power for electricity for light, heat and hot water. The pods were designed by LEAPfactory, an Italian firm that specialises in alpine architecture, on behalf of the North Caucasus Mountain Club, a Russian company that promotes tourism in the region. The different components of the hotel were produced in Italy and then assembled on the Kabardino-Balkaria slops in the North Caucasus. 

Source: RIA Novosti, Dezeen

Dutch festival screens 100 years of Russian film

16 October 2013
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900 Days (2011) dir. by Jessica Gorter is being screened at the Ruskino Film Festival

Film fans will be spoilt for choice with a festival in Amsterdam that spans 100 years of Russian cinema as part of the bilateral year of culture between Russia and the Netherlands. Ruskino Film Festival will be screening a wide range of films from restored versions of classics such as Battleship Potemkin (1925) to genre films such as White Sun of the Desert (1970), a "red western".

According to the organisers, the festival will also show a selection of movie gems that have "disappeared off the radar for years". They include Marlen Khutsiyev's July Rain (1966), a film evocative of the work of Italian director Michelangelo Antionioni; A Life for a Life (1916) by Yevgeni Bauer; and House on Trubnaya Street (1928) by Boris Barnet. The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr West in the Land of the Bolsheviks starring Barnet will also be screened with a new score by 15 Dutch composers from the Multimedia Music Institute.

Also scheduled is a retrospective of films by director Alexei Balabanov who died this year. Opening the retrospective will be Brother (1997), an exploration of Russian capitalism in the Nineties through the life of a disillusioned solider turned hitman. Ruskino runs at EYE Film Institute Netherlands until 19 December. 

Internet giant Yandex snaps up Russian IMDb

15 October 2013 · Moscow
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Still from US TV show SHIELD

Internet giant Yandex, often dubbed Russia's Google, has acquired KinoPoisk, the largest Russian-language website dedicated to television and film with visitor figures of 18.6 million a month. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed but Yandex has said it will use the acquisition to help improve its search capabilities.

Specifically the search engine will use the content on KinoPoisk to provide users with film recommendations tailored to personal preferences and interests. The team behind KinoPoisk, which was owned by founders Vitaliy Tatsiy and Dmitry Sukhanov as well as France's Allocine, will join Yandex.

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Moscow Design Week opens with design antiheroes exhibition

14 October 2013 · Moscow
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  • Studio Alchimia. Photograph: Emilio Tremolada

  • Studio Alchimia. Photograph: Emilio Tremolada

  • Brad Ascalon, De-Evolution

  • Brad Ascalon, De-Evolution

  • Brad Ascalon, De-Evolution

  • Kristjan Jarni, Waiting Room Project part of Silent Revolutions

  • Furniture Dress, Studio Alchimia

  • Editions by Ron Gilad, Dilmos Gallery

  • Studio Alchimia

Moscow Design Week kicks off this week with an exhibition that explores design antiheroes in a retrospective of work from Italian designers from two studios in Milan. For the show, curator and Italian designer Gregorio Spini has handpicked a number of design classics made by members of Studio Alchimia and Dilmos Gallery. They include Alessandro Mendini, a designer and architect who has collaborated with leading international brands such as Cartier, Hermes, Swatch and Swarovski, and Ettore Sottsass, described by London's Design Museum as a "grandee of 20th century Italian design".

Other events include a selection of some of the best in contemporary Slovenian design as well as a talk by celebrated French designer Philippe Starck about the ambitions of the Slovenian design industry. Elsewhere, US industrial designer Brad Ascalon will be presenting his new project, De-Evolution, a series of chairs that look as if they're melting. Taken together, the chairs are a reflection on a once great nation "losing its way", says Ascalon. Moscow Design Week will run until 17 October at Artplay Design Centre.