A guide to the New East


Exhibition rethinks the USSR’s architectural legacy

9 April 2013
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  • Karl Marx Library, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (1960-1975). Photograph: Archive Kosmatschof

  • Residential complex, Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photograph: Markus Weisbeck

  • Palace of Arts, Tashkent, Uzbekistan (1964). Photograph: Archive Sutyagin

  • Ministry of Transportation, Tbilisi, Georgia. Photograph: Courtesy Vahram Aghasyan (Project Chakhva)

  • Holiday retreat of the Union of Writers, dining hall, Sevan Peninsula, Armenia (1965-1969). Photograph: Courtesy Yerevanproject CJSC

  • Skating Ring Medeo, Reservoir Proctorhouse, Almaty, Kazakhstan (1969-1972). Photograph: Markus Weisbeck

  • Cafe Zhemchuzhina, Baku, Azerbaijan (1960s). Photograph: Markus Weisbeck

An exhibition about Soviet architecture opens in Istanbul next month, eschewing the early revolutionary buildings of the Soviet period in favour of the more restrained architectural style that followed the death of Joseph Stalin. According to Georg Schöllhammer, curator of Trespassing Modernities at Salt Galata gallery, Stalin's death in 1953 was followed by a call for modernisation and the rejection of socialist realism. "A new urbanisation was driven by an ideology of scientific and technological progress," he explains.

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Filipino architect wins design for Archstoyanie observation deck

8 April 2013
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Boris Bernaskoni, Arch (2012)

A Filipino architect has won a competition to build an observation deck in Nikola-Lenivets, a creative cluster not far from Moscow that's home to the Archstoyanie Festival of landscape objects. The observation deck by Royce Mar Nicdao, the director of the Manila-based WTA Architecture and Design Studio, consists of a suspended lens-shaped mirror that provides a panoramic view of the surroundings from beneath.

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Banksy pays tribute to Pasha 183 with spray can gif

8 April 2013 · Moscow
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UK artist Banksy has created an image on his website in memory of Russian street art pioneer Pasha 183, who died last week. The gif-like image is of a silver spray can with a flickering flame emerging from its nozzle and the words "P183 R.I.P" beneath.

Pasha 183, whose real name was Pavel Pukhov, was one of Moscow's most prolific and internationally renowned street artists. He died on Tuesday 2 April, aged 29. Although no official statement has been given about the cause of death, it is believed he committed suicide.

Pukhov was famously nicknamed as the "Russian Banksy" in January 2012, although in an interview last year, he said he had no intention of emulating the British street artist. "Of late, Pukhov became known for grandiose installations that beautified the urban environment by bringing gallery-quality aesthetics to the streets," writes Alexis Lerner for The Calvert Journal. "Pasha viewed street art as a vital instrument for shaking the citizenry into reclaiming expression."

Crimean idyll of Noughties explored in new exhibition

4 April 2013 · Moscow
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In a new exhibition, Vladimir Mogilevskiy, best known for editing the award-winning film The Return (2003), explores the blissfulness of the Crimea in the early Noughties. Old Video, which opens at the Transatlantique Gallery today, is based on a film that Mogilevskiy made of his friends during this idyllic period of his life.

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New Kusturica film looks to Dostoevsky for inspiration

3 April 2013 · St Petersburg
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Underground (1995), one of Emir Kusturica’s films to have won a Palme d’Or

Serbian director Emir Kusturica has announced that his new film about human organ trafficking will be mostly shot in Russia and incorporate the ideas of Russian literary giant Fyodor Dostoevsky. Kusturica will spend the next three years making the film, which is based on a novel he is writing called My Dear Fedor. The film will follow a Serbian man who like the protagonist in Crime and Punishment experiences a moral dilemma, which takes him to Kosovo via St Petersburg.

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New online biennale to feature emerging Russian artists

3 April 2013
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Timofei Radya, Stability (2012)

A new online biennale, the first to take place entirely on the internet, will be exhibiting the work of 180 emerging artists from around the world including four from Russia. BiennaleOnline will feature work from Timofei Radya, a street artist from Yekaterinburg; Taus Makhacheva, a video artist who divides her time between London and Moscow; Nikolay Oleynikov, a Moscow-based artist, activist and member of Russian collective Chto delat?; and Anna Parkina, an artist from Moscow.

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Saatchi & Saatchi launch Russian architecture campaign

2 April 2013 · Moscow
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Saatchi & Saatchi has launched an advertising campaign for Moscow's Shusev State Museum of Architecture in a bid to encourage culture buffs to discover Russia's rich architectural history. The museum, which was founded by the Union of Soviet architects in 1934, is named after acclaimed Russian architect Alexey Shchusev, best known for mixing the architecture of tsarist Russian with the monumental style that flourished under Joseph Stalin. 

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Controversial Icons exhibition opens after six-month delay

2 April 2013 · St Petersburg
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The opening of Marat Gelman’s exhibition, Icons, at the Tkachi Creative Space gallery in St Petersburg. Photograph: RIA Novosti

A controversial contemporary art exhibition about religious icons has opened in St Petersburg after concerns about its reception led to its cancellation in October. The exhibition, Icons, which features the work of 25 artists, first opened in Krasnodar in May 2012 where it was plagued by a series of protests by Orthodox communities and Cossack groups as well as an anonymous bomb threat.

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Louvre to open hall dedicated to Russian art

28 March 2013
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Erik Boulatov, Liberté, (1992) from Counterpoint, an exhibition on contemporary Russian art at the Louvre in 2010. Photograph: Jean-Alex Brunelle

The Louvre Museum in Paris will be opening a hall dedicated to Russian art in 2015 as part of wider plans to increase its current collection, which consists only of religious icons from Russia. The news follows an announcement by Henri Loyrette, director of the Louvre, in February, when he described the lack of Russian art at the gallery as "absolutely shocking".

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Loyrette said that the Byzantine department at the Louvre had plans to establish a fund to purchase artworks from auction houses for the collection but would also be borrowing pieces from other museums. The Louvre will be collaborating with the Russo-French Chamber of Commerce on ways to make more Russian art available to the public.

Hermitage Museum to open new branch in Yekaterinburg

28 March 2013
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The Hermitage’s branch in Amsterdam

The Hermitage Museum, which houses the largest art collection in the world at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, plans to open a regional branch in Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth largest city. Culture Minister Pavel Krekov said: "The establishment of a branch here will help put Yekaterinburg on the map in Russia and around the world." The project will be financially backed by the Svedlovsk Regional government.

The Hermitage already has regional outposts in Kazan in central Russia and Vyborg close to the border with Finland. It also has international branches in Amsterdam, Vilnius and Ferrara. The museum's rooms at Somerset House in London and the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas, a collaboration between the St Petersburg institute and the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, have closed in recent years.

In St Petersburg, the Hermitage recently opened a new contemporary art wing in the General Staff Buildings across the square from the Winter Palace. The museum will host Manifesta 10, Europe's leading biennial of contemporary art in 2014.