Russian Atelier on the Amstel: 10 Contemporary Artists

23 November 2013 - 5 January 2014

In the mid-1980s, the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov made the iconic work The Man Who Flew into Space from His Apartment, which represents the concept of escape and the loss of utopian ideals. The installation shows an apartment filled with propaganda posters from the Soviet era and a catapult large enough to hold a person. There is a hole in the ceiling through which that person was launched into space. This metaphor for escape and the longing for a better world is still highly relevant to the many artists who leave their place of origin in search of a better future.

Many contemporary artists move from country to country and engage with other cultures and ways of life. An artist who leaves his or her orginal home must adapt to new circumstances and expectations. Migrants often have to give up many of their dreams.

The artists in this exhibition all have themes in their work that allude, in different ways, to elements of their homeland or issues of migration and identity. One important issue facing migrants is the relationship between their new life and their old one. This is sometimes a source of uncertainty and can prompt a hesitant search for a new form of happiness.

Marina Chernikova presents modified photographs that form reflections on how the city is perceived today. Instead of a clearly organized whole, she shows a fragmented sequences of impressions. The video About About It (2013) is a collage-like tale of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s travels in European cities before his tragic death in Moscow. The video is inspired by avant-garde ideas of the 1920s. Chernikova combines material of his own with footage from Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, Walter Ruttman’s Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Großstadt, René Clair’s Paris qui dort, and Hans Richter’s Filmstudie.

Gluklya (Natalia-Gluklya Pershina) contributes an installation that explores various facets of the concept of migration. There are large groups of migrants in Russia from the former Soviet satellite states, many of whom have the status of illegal aliens. The video Wings of Migrants draws a connection with the Proletkult theatre of the 1920s and portrays a magical encounter between migrants and dancers in the city. In this utopian world, everyone is equal in status.

In her search for a new official identity, Asia Komarova tries to obtain an identity document. This process and its outcome form the subject of an installation in which she chases after an international passport that will allow her to travel freely. She will also exhibit a photo entitled Russian Igloo, showing a small igloo in a new Dutch housing development. This igloo can be seen as a metaphor for a temporary stay in an unfamiliar and sometimes cold and unwelcoming environment.

Irina Popova examines the theme of identity from a different perspective. She looked for pictures of all the people called Irina Popova on social media and found approximately five thousand. A selection of these photos will be presented in A4 format on a large wall. The aim of this work is to demonstrate the potential of a non-professional approach to the medium of photography. In her own photography, she takes a fairly documentary approach, and the line between the artist’s personal involvement and the subject’s private domain can become very thin.

Andrei Roiter’s work conjures up the image of the nomadic artist with no fixed domicile. In his cameras, mobile studios, and notebooks, he carries memories and ideas from place to place that could prove useful to him. In this exhibition, Roiter will present works that depict metaphysical journeys.

Slava & Marta (Slava Shevelenko en Marta Volkova) (Slava Shevelenko and Marta Volkova) are preparing an installation about cosmonauts who, after seeing enchantingly beautiful sights, feel the urge to make and exhibit their own art.

Masha Trebukova debuted in the Netherlands in 1990 with abstract works that combined painting, monotyping, and collage techniques. This was her reaction to the social realist painting that had been the norm at her Soviet art school. Many of her evocative works refer to Old Testament themes such as resurrection, the discovery of the world, and Jacob’s Ladder.

Julia Winter presents photographic ‘double portraits’, superimposed photographs of two different people. One layer is a transparent portrait photograph on glass, which enters into dialogue with the portrait on paper underneath it. Both of the photographic images are modified with paint or added details. Their interaction and the modifications create a kind of poetry, in which past and present, or male and female, can play a role. Through these ‘crossovers’, Winter suggests the changing nature of images in the historical and cultural sense.

Tatyana Yassievich paints obscure and seemingly forgotten places in and around St. Petersburg: the lobby of a building, a station concourse, or an unexceptional square. In the process, she gives them an attention normally denied them in the rush of everyday life, partly because of a general lack of interest in remnants of the Soviet era. Her realistic style of painting is not a form of social realism, but a free and colourful approach closer to the tradition of Marc Chagall and Natalia Goncharova.

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on April 26 and December 25

© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Photo Janiek Dam

More information:
+31 (0)20 530 74 88

More information online ticketing:
+31 (0)20 530 87 55