A guide to the New East


New book rethinks Lolita cover designs

16 August 2013
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  • Design by Barbara DeWilde

  • Design by Ben Wiseman

  • Design by Ellen Lupton

  • Design by John Fulbrook III

Ever since 1955 when Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was first published in a green jacket, the question of what the cover should look like has troubled designers. How do you capture such a psychologically complex book in a single design? Now, Yuri Leving, the founding editor of the Nabokov Online Journal, and John Bertram, an architect and blogger, have published a book with designs created by 80 graphic designers and illustrators offering their own take on the cover. In addition, Nabokov scholars and design critics provide commentary on more than half a century of Lolita book jackets.

In an excerpt of a letter published in Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl, out this month, Nabokov writes: "I want pure colours, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls." Yet since it was first published, numerous Lolita covers  have featured variations on the image of a young, semi-nude temptress with come hither eyes. According to book designer John Gall, whose work is published in the new book, many came to expect a nymphet on the cover after Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation in 1962.

For a full list of cover designs spanning more than half a century, visit Covering Lolita

Manifesta names Kasper König as curator of 2014 biennial

15 August 2013 · St Petersburg
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Kasper König celebrating the signing of the curatorial contract (far right). Photograph: Zorina Myskova

Kaspar König has been named the chief curator of Manifesta 10, Europe's leading biennial of contemporary art, which will be hosted in St Petersburg next year. The main venue for the festival, which will take place from 28 June to 31 October 2014, will be the State Hermitage Museum.

König said: "Manifesta 10 in the Hermitage will be subtle and substantial; contemporary art and exhibits form the State Hermitage Museum should dance side by side … I look forward to the challenge of working with contemporary art in this context, hoping to make an exhibition that is intelligent and playful."

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Anatoly Osmolovsky’s radical artwork goes on show in Venice

15 August 2013
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Photo of Silent Parade (1991), a performance by Anatoly Osmolovsky

A new exhibition featuring the work of two artists, Anatoly Osmolovsky and Paweł Althamer, documents the transition to post-communism experience in both Russia and Eastern Europe in the early Nineties. Using different forms and media such as sculpture, installation and video art, the two artists, one from Russia and one from Poland, explore the potential of art to bring about social change.

Polish artist Althamer's art is best known for exploring the body, self-portraiture and the subjectivity of human experience. One of his major works to be shown at the exhibition, So-called Waves and Other Phenomena of the Mind (2003-4), is an eight-screen installation of short films that look at his experiments with a range of mind-altering substances including LSD, peyote and truth serum. Another artwork, Parys, a large-scale bronze cast, will also be on show, continuing his life-long investigation into depictions of the human body.

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Chechen war documentary picks up prize at Locarno

14 August 2013
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Still from See You in Chechnya

A documentary feature about journalists covering the Second Chechen War has picked up two prizes at this year's Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, Variety magazine reported. See You in Chechnya, by Georgian director Alexander Kvatashidze, was awarded the $21,500 Open Doors Production Award and the $8,000 ARTE Open Doors Award. The film follows six war reporters over a period of 15 years, looking at their ambitions, professional successes and personal lives against the backdrop of the war.

"But this could be any war, in any country," said Kvatashidze. "As I reflect on the motives which drove these people, people I knew and admired, to risk everything to tell the world what was happening in this inhospitable mountain enclave, I offer a fascinating insight into the peculiar psychology of war reporters: contemporary heroes whose business is death, and who have to face up to their own mortality every time they go to work."

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Ivanovo photography exhibition showcases young Russian talent

14 August 2013 · Ivanovo
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Untitled from the series Citizen Holidaymakers. Photograph: Anastasia Kichigina

A photography exhibition showcasing emerging talent from across Russia opens today at the Sheremetev Centre in Ivanovo. The exhibition will display work from the winners of the winners of the Young Photographers of Russia 2013 competition, announced in June.

The competition, a major annual event organised by the Union of Photographers of Russia, is open to photographers aged 18 to 35 from Russia. Ten winners were chosen from cities across the country including Moscow, Samara, Novosibirsk, St Petersburg, Vologda and Nizhny Tagil. Each winner receives a 36,000-rouble prize from the Ministry of Culture and is given the opportunity to attend workshops and portfolio reviews with high-profile professionals in the field.

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Moscow Biennale reveals this year’s line-up

13 August 2013 · Moscow
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Architect Alexander Brodsky in his Moscow studio. Photograph: Petr Antonov/Grinberg Agency

The Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art has revealed the line-up for this year's festival, including 13 artists from Russia, most notably architect Alexander Brodsky. Around 30 artworks will be created specifically for the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall, the main venue for the biennale.

Brodsky, who is currently working on a large-scale installation for Manezh, told The Calvert Journal: "I haven't come up with a final title for my piece, which will look like a huge entrance made of recycled and found materials. It will be lit from inside but people won't be able to approach it so they'll hopefully feel a bit puzzled about where it leads."

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Photography exhibition documents anonymous graffiti collective

13 August 2013 · Moscow
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A new photography exhibition at the Museum of Moscow tells the story of MOW, an anonymous graffiti collective that formed in 2012. The exhibition, And You Want the Same, comprises a series of images featuring masked men painting trains with graffiti, abandoned construction sites and buildings in the outskirts of Moscow, Berlin and Hong Kong.

The collective, made up mainly of architecture and art school graduates, believe that, unlike high art, graffiti is more about the process than the result. The project is a collaboration between the Museum of Moscow, one of the oldest museums in the city, and art agency The July 16. The exhibition is part of the annual festival of street culture Faces and Laces and runs until 21 August. 

Hermitage Museum cats honoured in portraits

12 August 2013 · St Petersburg
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Among the treasures at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg are the cats who have been guarding the gallery's famous artworks from mice since the mid-18th century. And now, in a show of gratitude towards their feline protectors, the museum has commissioned Uzbek artist Eldar Zakirov to paint the prowling pusses. The result is Cats of the Hermitage, a series of digital oil paintings featuring the cats in Tsarist court costumes.

Around 70 cats guard the grounds of the Hermitage museum, keeping rodents at bay. The tradition was started in 1745 following a decree by Peter the Great's daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who ordered that the biggest cats capable of catching mice be brought over from Kazan. 

Contemporary art festival opens in Samara

12 August 2013
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Performance by Emilie Pischedda,
 Valentin Souquet and 
Nina Souquet from France. Photograph: Anna Korzhova

Artworks exploring methods of communication in, and between, east and west have gone on show at the Shiryaevo Biennale of Contemporary Art, the largest event of its kind in the Samara region in south-eastern Russia.

This year's theme, Screen, will look at communication techniques, such as advertising, in an era of globalisation. Unlike other contemporary art festivals, artists are invited to participate in a two-week experimental art laboratory in the village of Shiryaevo while being immersed in the local environment. During their stay, artists are hosted by residents and encouraged to interact with locals.

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov curate El Lissitzky exhibition

9 August 2013 · Moscow
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El Lissitzky, Interior Project for the F-Type Residential Cell of a Commune House (1927). Photograph: Collection State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will curate an exhibition this autumn featuring their own work alongside that of El Lissitzky, a master of Russian avant-garde art. The exhibition, Utopia and Reality, at the Multimedia Art Museum Moscow, will examine the ideological differences between the work of El Lissitzky, who died in 1941, and the Kabakovs.

El Lissitzky strongly believed that an artist could be an agent for good and, as a result, his work was closely associated with the early Soviet utopian project. Along with artist Kazimir Malevich, he designed propaganda posters for the Soviet Union, including most famously Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge.

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