ART & CULTURE

When Asked About Russian Contemporary Art
Russia’s longstanding cultural and artistic achievements remain all over the city of Moscow. However, if you want to learn about Russia’s contemporary art of today, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art would be where you want to go. We asked Katya Inozemtseva, senior curator at the Garage Museum, some of the questions we had about the place.
Calling itself “a place for people, art, and ideas to create history,” the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow is the first art museum in Russia with a mandate to contribute to society and the local community. It is a place where the movement in global contemporary art scenes is introduced to Russia, and also a home for Russia’s contemporary art collections. The museum launches about 10 exhibitions and related programs each year, and continues activities promoting events, education, research, and publishing for the advancement of Russian contemporary art. In the center of this effort is the Garage Collection, Russia’s only public archive with information on Russian contemporary art from the 1950s to the present.
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Katya Inozemtseva

“We always try to change and expand the existing cultural landscape.”
Senior curator Katya Inozemtseva
Q. I know you studied philology at Moscow State University. How did you become interested in curation? And how did your career take this direction?
A. I was awarded a PhD in German Literature with the thesis titled Visual Image (a Picture) in Texts of German Romanticism. I'm quite sure that curation is a huge and complete "figure" of mediation on many symbolical, intellectual, physical, and material levels. It's a kind of general cultural sensibility that might be acquired, taught (sometimes), developed in different ways, but fundamental education in humanities can be a good starting point. Everything that happens afterwards is the matter of your interest, hard work, visual greed, and never-ending enthusiasm. More or less, this is the logic and actually a short description of my journey which started for me as a coordinator of exhibition projects at the Moscow branch of NCCA in 2002.
 
Q. The Museum was renamed in 2014, from the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture to the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Could you explain about the changes the Museum wanted to make with the name change?
A. I think the word "museum" reflects more stable, long-term programming, another iteration of "being a public institution", a certain mission and at the same time responsibility of course. Because we became part of the established community, we always try to change and expand the existing cultural landscape.
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View of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

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Works by Muscovite Artist Pavel Pepperstein, Pavel Pepperstein, Antenna for Communication with the Dead, 2006, Watercolor and ink on paper. Courtesy of the artist

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Pavel Pepperstein, Bushido (from the Philosophical Categories series), 2018, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist

Q. I know that Garage opens ten exhibitions every year. What kind of exhibitions does the Museum aim to have?
A. We are trying to put together a very balanced program that doesn't turn around separate shows. We consider our exhibition initiatives as the culmination, development, anticipation of more global, complex things encompassing research, some programs, thematic directions, etc.
 
Q. What was the most meaningful work you’ve curated at the Museum? Please introduce one of the exhibitions you participated in.
A. The scale of meaningfulness is very different. The huge thing and exceptional experience was of course Takashi Murakami. But there are some shows that influenced my private and professional program. One of them was Andro Wekua’s show.
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Garage Pavilion © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Q. A museum should promote social interests and embrace diversity. What role does the Garage Museum want to play in Russian society?
A. Actually the social engagements were among our priorities from the very beginning. We've already launched a lot of initiatives, the most visible being our inclusion program and in 2015 we launched the first inclusive department among the museums, and developed several programs and projects (including the educational ones) all over the country. Garage works a lot with the local communities—for instance, next year we are opening a project called Bureau des Transmissions dedicated to the inclusion of various minorities into cultural and social life. We also opened the first public library on contemporary art, published more than 100 books during the past three years. 2017 became also important for us, because we built an innovative playground for “children” from 3 to 90 years old in Gorky Park, obviously with free entry.
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Garage Playground © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Q. How would you assess the Russian contemporary art scene?
A. It is less visible internationally for many reasons, but it's super dynamic, with lot of interesting artists who deserve to be seen, displayed, reflected, etc.
 
Q. Do you have a Russian artist to recommend to us? Can we see the artist's work at Garage?
A. This is the most difficult question. There are so many. Just follow us on our social networks. As a short introduction, check out the project that we launched in 2017, Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art.

Video of Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Q. I know the Museum has tried to archive Russian contemporary art. Could you tell me about the Garage Archive?
A. We own a vast archive on Russian contemporary art and we will continue to acquire archives. We consider RAAN(Russian Art Archive Network) to be our greatest strategic achievement. It is a database that has put together digitally the biggest archives on Russian art worldwide.
 
Q. What kind of exhibition are you preparing for right now?
A. Lots of things. But our effort is now concentrated on the biggest project of 2019 called The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100.
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Doug Aitken's 'The Garden,' To Be Featured in 'Incoming World: Ecology of New Politics 2030~2100,' 2017 © Photo: Anders Sune Berg, Courtesy of the artist and ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum

Q. Is there a good season or time to visit Garage?
A. We are located in the central park of Moscow, so any time will be a pleasant experience. It's only a seven-minute drive from Lotte Hotel Moscow. Fall is the perfect season, summer as well—we organize a lot of festivals during the summer, we also have summer cinema in front of the Museum with super-rich programs, put together by one of our curators.
 
Q. What else can we expect from Garage? And is there anything we should enjoy there?
A. Epic adventures, more programs, new discoveries, and even spaces!
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Garage Cafe © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art was founded by Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich in 2008. Initially called the Garage Center, the Museum changed its name to the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in 2014 and relocated to Gorky Park the next year. The new home was originally a Soviet Modernist restaurant built in 1968 by OMA, an architectural firm led by the world-renowned architect Rem Koolhaas. The Museum houses not just large exhibition halls but also a public library on contemporary art, called Garage Library, and Garage Cafe known for its seasonal menu changes.

Video © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

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