Russian artist Pyotr Aidu has won the Sergey Kuryokhin Prize for contemporary art, one of Russia’s most prestigious awards, for his multidisciplinary work that marries performance art with sound. For Reconstruction of Utopia professional and amateur musicians play little known pieces by Soviet composers of the 1920s along with early 20th-century sound artist Vladimir Popov’s noise machines, which create everyday sound effects. 

Speaking about his artwork, Aidu said: “For the project, we tried to reflect the different directions of music thought in the reconstruction of an imaginary concert, a kind of musical montage, that showcases the experiments in sound during the early Soviet epoch.”

Both St Petersburg-based curator Gleb Yershov and Nizhny Novgorod video art group Provmyza were shortlisted for the Grand Prix, but instead walked away with prizes in other categories. Yershov picked up a prize for best curatorial project for Battle with Squirrel, an exhibition that explores the aesthetics of underground artists in St Petersburg in the late 20th century, while Provmyza came first in the best media-art category for Eternity, a film that follows a young girl who stands up against a destructive force. Celebrated street artist Timofei Radya also won an award for best public art project for Article, an installation of riot shields that cite articles relating to democracy in the Russian constitution.

This year’s ceremony took place at the prestigious State Hermitage Museum instead of its usual venue, Priboy, an old Soviet cinema where the Kuryohkin Centre, which organises the award, is based. The Sergey Kuryokhin Prize was established in honour of the St Petersburg musician by his wife, Anastasia. For the ceremony, video artist Maxim Svichev projected a video of artworks by Timur Novikov, the legendary St Petersburg artist who worked with Kuryokhin, while Orchestra 4’33 played a selection of music by Kuryokhin and related musicians.

This year, the prize for the best art text was cancelled to make way for two prizes next year, one for the best academic art writing and another for a written work that helps make contemporary art more accessible to the masses. “I think that in Russia, the popularisation of art is weaker than the coverage of music,” said Anastasia Kuryohkina. “We need more television shows, radio programmes and magazines about art.”

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