Russian Cosmos

From 17 December 2011 to 26 February 2012

curated by Olga Sviblova

With the support of the highest Italian and Russian government institutions, the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea and the Multimedia Art Museum Moscow have organised and present, together with Civita, the RUSSIAN COSMOS exhibition as part of the exchange programme for the 2011 Year of Italian Culture and Language in Russia and of Russian Culture and Language in Italy. The exhibition, presented on the third floor of the former Savoy household residence, marks the second phase in the international cultural exchange which, from May to July, presented Russian visitors with an exhibition in Moscow entitled Arte Povera in Moscow. Works from the collection of the Castello di Rivoli. This was an unprecedented event for Russia, as stressed by the extraordinary public success of the exhibition. Significantly, RUSSIAN COSMOS coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first space flight by Yuri Gagarin and the launch of the principal Soviet, European and American space exploration programmes.

The exhibition is divided into six thematic rooms and stresses the links between the reciprocal influences of the scientific and artistic world on the Russian scene from the 1920s to the artistic experiments of the present day. Russia, a mythological land that has always been projected to living beyond its physical and material reality, has been the place of origin and perhaps pretext for many narratives. One of these possible tales is the dream of outer space and the myth of its conquest. The origins of what would become a veritable historic obsession lie in the ideas of the celebrated Russian scientist, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who laid the bases for the scientific investigation that would lead to the design of spaceships and to the creation of a research institute, subsequently directed by another Russian scientist, Sergei Korolyov. The first spaceships – the sputniks – were constructed under Korolyov’s supervision, and opened the way to the first historic space flight with a crew.

Starting with Yuri Gagarin’s flight, the myth of the cosmos in the Soviet Union became a powerful mythologem able to cement society. It was an educative myth for all Soviet children, and everyone dreamed of becoming a cosmonaut. The idea of the cosmos, more comparable to infinite space than to the surrounding environment, became the motif for a source of recurrent inspiration for Russian artists and architects. One of the dominant themes of the avant-garde is not the line of the horizon, but the diagonal in works by Malevich and in the photographs of Rodchenko, the emblem of inspiration towards unknown distance.

The exhibition includes objects and models by Tsiolkovsky made by hand and currently conserved in Russian museums, together with installations concerning the first space sputniks and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. It also presents cartoons and videos, works by artist and architect Yuri Avvakumov, winner of major prizes in the most important competitions of utopian architecture held in Europe and Japan at the end of the 1980s. RUSSIAN COSMOS offers too some photographs by Ivan Mikhailov, a young Russian photographer whose works are often to be seen in international shows.

The themes of distance and dream, machine and imagination, conquest and cross-fertilization appear in the work of the over 30 artists present in RUSSIAN COSMOS. Among these, it is worth noting Kazemir Malevich, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Sergei Korolev, Yury Avvakumov, Andrey Savin, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Ivan Mikhailov, Alexander Djikia, Bulat Gallev, АВС (Art Business Consulting), Dmitry Gutov, Timur Novikov, Vyacheslav Mizin, Alexander Pankin, Konstantin Batynkov, Alena Kirtsova, Vladimir Sterligov, Vasiliy Chekrygin, Nikolai Suetin, Iliy Chashnik, Kiril Ass and The Blue Soup Group, Francisco Infante Arana, Gueorgui Gurianov, Igor Veritchev (group NOVYE KOMPOZITORI), Andrei Krisanov, Group ASSA (Timur Novikov, Gueorgui Ostretsov, Ivan Sotnikov, Oleg Kotelnikov), Ilya Kitup and Pavel Pepperstein.

From 17 December 2011 to 26 February 2012
Have you watched it?

Olga Sviblova tells Russian Cosmos