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Московская международная биеннале современного искусства

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By Hook or by Crook

 
By Hook or by Crook

event site and dates

PROEKT_FABRIKA
20 september 2009 — 18 october 2009

Curator: Yulia Lebedeva

With support from: PROEKT_FABRIKA

Artists:

  • Nikita Alexeev
  • Yury Albert
  • Sergei Vorontsov
  • Ignat Daniltsev
  • Konstantin Zvezdochetov
  • Andrei Kuzkin
  • Georgy Litichevsky
  • Viktor Skersis
  • Vitas Stasunas
  • Irina Shteinberg
  • Sergei Shutov

 

“Living in the space of a false epic, he invented histories that were no less false, but no less grand.”
Alexei Tarkhanov,
“Konstantin Zvezdochetov as an agent of influence”

The world has many types of lies. There is a “dirty lie,” and there is a “white lie.” There is deliberate misinformation, there is bluffing, and there are the opposites: pure truth and stupid honesty. Lies have been around forever, and each age has its own. People have always believed in something that did not really exist. In our time it is ever more difficult to distinguish lies from truth, and harder to understand whether truth actually exists. And, perhaps, only in art can a lie simultaneously be truth. An artist is not a liar and a fraud, but a trickster and a fabulist. Only when we contemplate paintings, read books, or watch films do we expect lies, sympathize with them, celebrate them. We are not offended by them; to the contrary, the more daring the falsehood, the more interesting it becomes. ‘Do you really think that what you are looking at right now is art?’ asks Yury Albert, and this text, painted on canvas (2007) brings the viewer into a new artistic space, where everything is a game: the painting seems to be not quite a painting, and the artist himself says that it is not art. Where is truth here, and where is the lie? That is the question.

The artist deludes us. He invents, remaking common knowledge to suit his own purposes. In his series ‘Philosophy after Art’ (2008), Nikita Alexeev demonstrates the contradictory nature of the love for words and images, and reinforces his images with absurdist dialogues. Verbiage is an important part of this exhibition, and not only because many (but not all!) artists belong to the circle of Moscow Conceptualism. In part this is related to the domination of literary traditions in Russia. But here we can note that the combination of text and image frequently yields a contradiction, casting a doubt on meaning. It is simultaneously a hint and a riddle, an intellectual charade. It deliberately puts viewers on the wrong trail, or it can tell them what the essence is. There are endlessly many answers. We could make more than one exhibition, each time with a new collection of names. Only then can we show artistic deceit in all its diversity. This exhibition includes Viktor Skersis’s play on the words and letters of Bruce Nauman (‘Partial Truth,’ 2009), Yury Albert’s opposition of himself and contemporary classics (the series ‘I Eat No One, and That is the Fearsome Truth,’ begun in 1998) the funny comics of Georgy Litichevsky and the far-out stories of Konstantin Zvezdochetov, Sergei Vorontsov’s trompe-l’oeil objects and Ignat Daniltsev’s “investigation” of an object’s purpose, which turns into a true detective story with many versions (Figure, 1998).

Basically, as the poet Tyutchev said long ago: “A thought once uttered is untrue.” That is the rabbit’s den into which anyone who truly tries to understand contemporary art dives headlong.

Yulia Lebedeva

 










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