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A/DO/PT ART exhibition in Moscow

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Reflections on A/DO/PT ART and the search for place-practice. A project by Naomi Hennig and Katja Sudec

Participating curators:

Uwe Jonas (gallery Neues Problem, Berlin / Germany)

Ikumasa Hayashi (freelance curator, Nagoya / Japan)

Jane Warrilow (freelance curator, Edinburgh / Scotland)

Božidar Zrinski & Polona Lovšin (curator & art historian, Ljubljana / Slovenia)

artworks by:

BridA (Tom Kerševan, Sendi Mango, Jurij Pavlica) (Slovenia)

Frederik Foerth (Berlin)


Yasuko Otsuka (Nagoya)

apartment gallery

closeup of wall collage

The project A/DO/PT ART was motivated by questions that came up during the struggle to develop a basis for working as both artists and curators.

What were our concerns ? Re-reading our exhibition concept after returning home from the Moscow Biennale for Young Art (where our collaboration had taken the shape of an exhibition for the first time) I try to return to our starting point – the uncertainties and challenges that we both face at a point where our practices are undergoing a fundamental transformation. A process that sometimes feels like loosing the ground under our feet, though simultaneously we are turning into excellent project managers and funding application buffs.

Katja and I are both currently finishing our masters in curatorial studies in Berlin. We embrace the fact that we leave the ‘ground of certainty’, the traditional artists realm of the studio, trying to venture into a contested, many-sided field of renegotiating the conditions and (social) spheres of artistic practice, dissolving boundaries between art, curation, self-education and research.

Doing so, I believe we have lost faith in any form of aesthetic purity or formal perfection, while testing out the various possibilities of how to let a work of art speak and communicate.

It even starts to feel uncomfortable to call yourself an artist. We might proclaim ourselves “artists as anthropologists” (after Kosuth), dissolving practice into the social networks that enable us to interact, to show our works and to reflect the conditions that produce these networks and that are being produced by them. To be committed to them means to acknowledge the intrinsic importance of these networks in terms of production of meaning, contextualisation and the writing of cultural history.

But lets remain sceptical of that, as this relational field has been widely explored and interpreted by a previous generation of artists (that of our teachers).

What became apparent since the 90ies at the latest, is the process of professionalisation of more and more parts of what used to be considered private. Your home is your studio, your friends are your colleagues or competitors, your lover is your curator, and so on. All in all this is just a step away from ‘creative labour’, from your professional career, thus becoming infested, hard, dirty in a way. This lifestyle were art, relationships and ‘attitude’ are fused with the mundane and everery day is not restricted anymore to a self proclaimed creative elite, but became a paradigm of neoliberal self-marketing, or in german terms, Ich-AG. Where can we make cuts, where can we distance ourselves from these so called necessities and reclaim an artistic territory that has lost its innocence ?

adopt video

adopt guests

Through A/DO/PT ART, we wanted to take one step back from this chaos of relations and investigate a specific setting for artistic presentation – the apartment exhibition as context and condition where a certain immaterial value of an artwork becomes more tangible and produces a different kind of experience than being perceived in a public display. In our test arrangement, the aspect of the art institution has been excluded. Also, for the most part, the spectator was eliminated.

The four curators whom we had asked to select an artwork that would be displayed at their pivate apartments, were known to us from previous travels and projects, with one exception. All of them had, within their own curatorial projects, considered apartments to be appropriate locations for the presentation or production of art. This is how our selection of collaborators for this project came about.

In our exhibition, documents of their apartment exhibitions, their recorded statements and written contributions were shown in the form of four video documentations and a material collage in a Moscow apartment gallery.



Gallery Cheryomushki

Is an apartment gallery run by artist Kirill Preobrazhenskiy since 2006. It is located in the residential neighbourhood Cheryomushki south of the Moscow city centre. Here, the nearest art around would probably be the Ho Chi Minh memorial in front of the next metro station.

It is a peaceful area with multi-story housing and a lot of green spaces, far away from the fancy security guarded art institutions in the centre.

What at first seemed an easy-going and relaxed environment to exhibit our playful and admittedly unfinished investigation-project, turned out to be a challenge in terms of the very essential pre-conditions our project is dealing with. Context! This gallerist revealed himself as a sharp and reflected producer of ‘meaningful relations’. He explained to us the specific reasons and the necessity for this gallery to exist in his place, not least as a conscious statement in the face of the ongoing gentrification of the area. Paradoxically our own ground floor apartment in Berlin, where we organise events and exhibitions too,  is for ourselves not a means to counter gentrification but instead we notice that we unwillingly become part of it, simply by introducing a cultural surplus into our street. Our creative output will eventually do nothing but causing higher real estate prices.

But this is another (hi)story. Moscows fabric of art institutions and artist self-institutions is a very different one and has a very specific history as well. By introducing this history and its protagonists in our research and presentation, we have tried to think of apartment exhibtions in a broader way, as individual flight or as cultural practice of opposition towards a closed authoritarian system.

For our current project however, the conditions are different. All participating curators and artists might be able to operate in established institutions and galleries, but sometimes there are reasons why not to do so.

The paradox of the Biennale is that it is able to encapsule locations like Cheryomushki which normally would escape such official hype.

Well. We had asked for a ‘real apartment’ and we got one! So at this point we would like to thank those (devils advocates) who organised it for us.

In several ways, we had entered Kirills ‘territory’, thus causing unexpected and affective reactions.

It was difficult in some ways – but in his place, we had the chance to learn something.

Actually many guests turned up, had drinks, cigarettes on the balcony, sat in the kitchen and later in the evening one of the videos was turned off so that people could watch the football game.

This was all fine. In a way it was part of our idea.

There is no conclusion to it yet, and our project will continue to materialise in different forms in the future.


Written by adoptart

July 14, 2010 at 12:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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