Russian Pavilion17


The Russian Pavilion at the
57th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia
Theatrum Orbis
Commissioned and curated by Semyon Mikhailovsky
Official inauguration ceremony:
Wednesday, 10. May 2017 | 3pm
features artists: Grisha Bruskin, Recycle Group and Sasha Pirogova
Exhibition: 13 May – 26 November 2017
Giardini, Venice, Italy
Recycle Group, Blocked Content, 2017,
courtesy the artists and the Russian Pavilion, Venice

Theatrum Orbis, a new exhibition conceived and created for the Russian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, features artists Grisha Bruskin, Recycle Group and Sasha Pirogova alongside contemporaryRussian composers.

The exhibition title – translated as ‘Theatre of the World’ – takes its name from Abraham Ortelius’ atlas published in Antwerp in 1570. Marking an epoch in the history of cartography, it was the first modern atlas to unite knowledge and experience across science and culture accumulated during the Age of Discovery.

Theatrical in its concept and form, the exhibition includes sculpture, installation, video and sound across three emotively connected parts. Visitors follow a narrative throughout the pavilion, first encountering Bruskin’s installation of figurative white sculptures; then, on descending the stairs and passing through a labyrinth, further rooms contain works by Recycle Group and Pirogova. While Bruskin represents a long-established generation of Russian artists, Recycle Group and Pirogova come from a new post-digital era engaged with technology.
Music and sound plays a very important role in the exhibition, with specially written scores by Dimitri Kourdlianski, Peter Aidu and Konstantin Dudakov-Kashuro. For the first time sound is not constrained by the walls of the pavilion, but is taken out into the Giardini, establishing a dialogue with the viewer through Dmitri Kourliandski’s sound performance “Commedia delle arti”.
Grisha Bruskin, Scene Change, 2016-2017,
courtesy the artist and the Russian Pavilion, Venice
Part 1: Scene Change
Artist: Grisha Bruskin
Co-Curators: Giuseppe Barbieri, Silvia Burini

Grisha Bruskin’s installation Scene Change, is as implacably regulated as the wheels of a universal clockwork, where two reciprocally remote historical times, Antiquity and Modernity, meet and clash in a series of eloquent images according to the ancient rules of the “art of memory”. This uncanny landscape, marked by tens and tens of figures, represents the contradictory nature of power, incarnated by a mechanised hybrid: the two-headed bird. Dolls, dummies, hybrids and androids give shape to the threat of international terrorism, while soldiers with binoculars, drones and archaic idols equipped with antennae and radars pursue the idea of a “transparent” world where they can monitor and spy on human masses. From the ancient “art of memory” – a millenary process of organisation of different languages, Bruskin took up the ambition to create a Magnum Opus, to melt our contemporary age in the crucible of a timeless alchemist.

Mikhailovsky 2.jpg
Grisha Bruskin and Seymon Mikhailovsky at the Russian Pavilion in Venice
Part 2: Blocked Content
Artists: Recycle Group
Co-Curator: Ekaterina Shcherbakova
In Blocked Content, Recycle Group create an absurdist image of artificial intelligence as an authority on ethical standards to play with the phenomenon of virtual reality and social media. In an exploration of immortality in contemporary society, ‘saints’ of the web are granted eternal life and ‘sinners’ – including spammers, virus retailers and fake-celebrities – are punished. An epiphany about life and death in the virtual realm, the installation takes inspiration from Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell. Featuring scenes of Hell, the installation shows profiles frozen in a vacuum, without likes and reposts and unable to return to life, only fully visible through a virtual reality app that will be downloaded to visitors’ mobile devices.
Recycle Group (Georgy Kuznetsov and Andrey Blokhin) portrait, courtesy Recycle Group and the Russian Pavilion, Venice
Part 3: Garden
Artist: Sasha Pirogova
Video artist Pirogova focuses on motion and its capacities by exploring the territory between theatre, ritual, performance and dance to transform rational movements into metaphors. Garden is a performative video telling a story of eternal life, death and immortality expressed through notions of darkness and light. Darkness is not meant as a horrifying matter, but as a lack of light, which in turn means it has the potential to be enlightened and the human being is a source of light.
Sasha Pirogova, GARDEN, video, 2017, courtesy Recycle Group and the Russian Pavilion, Venice
Sound Pavilion: Commedia delle arti
Composer: Dmitri Kourliandski
Commedia delle arti is a new work from contemporary composer Kourliandski consisting of an interactive and performative sound installation. From the façade of the building plays Commedia dell’ascolto recorded by leading Russian musicians. At the entrance to the Pavilion, visitors can pick-up ‘score-instructions’ that can be followed to create a dialogue between the artist, visitor and outside world.
Grisha Bruskin (b.1945, lives and works in Moscow)
A central theme in Bruskin’s practice is studying the formation, existence and deterioration of cultural, historical and ideological mythologies. His works are held in numerous American and European museum collections, such as MoMA and the Jewish Museum (New York), the Art Institute of Chicago, Ludwig Museum (Cologne), Centre Pompidou (Paris), and the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and Tretyakov State Gallery (Moscow). In 2015, he participated in the Venice Biennale with the collateral exhibition, An Archeologist’s Collection. Bruskin is also a well-known writer. His books include Past Imperfect and many have been translated into English, French and Italian. In 2012, Bruskin was awarded the Kandinsky Prize for Russian contemporary art for his sculptural project H-Hour. In 1999, at the invitation of the German government and as a representative of Russia, he created the monumental triptych, Life Above All, for the restored Reichstag building in Berlin.

Grisha Bruskin1.jpg

Grisha Bruskin portrait, courtesy the artist and the Russian Pavilion, Venice. Right:

Recycle Group (live and work in Krasnodar and Paris)
In 2008, artists Andrei Blokhin (born 1987, Krasnodar) and Georgy Kuznetsov (born 1985, Stavropol) formed Recycle Group. From that year, they have been active participants in Russian and international contemporary art exhibitions. In June 2017, Recycle Group has a major solo exhibition at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow). In 2016, they were awarded a Arte Laguna Prize. Recycle Group’s acclaimed project Conversion in Saint Antonin church was an official collateral event of the Venice Biennale in 2015. In 2010, they received the Kandinsky Prize for Russian contemporary art with their project Reverse. Recycle Group have participated in art shows in France, Italy, the UK, USA and Belgium.

Sasha Pirogova, АGON, video, 16′, 2016, courtesy the artist

Sasha Pirogova (b.1986, lives and works in Moscow)
Pirogova graduated in Physics from the Moscow State University in 2010, before attending the Rodchenko Art School (both in Moscow). Pirogova’s work is currently on view (until 14 May 2017) at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow) as part of its inaugural Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art. In 2016, she was nominated for the Future Generation Art Prize, organised by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Also in 2016, Pirogova was selected for the Present Continuous program, an annual scheme run by the V-A-C Foundation and Museum of Modern Art of Antwerp to acquire work by young Russian artists. In 2014, she won an INNOVATION prize for Russian contemporary art.


Konstantin Dudakov-Kashuro portrait, courtesy the artist and the Russian Pavilion, Venice

Konstantin Dudakov-Kashuro (b. 1978, lives and works in Moscow)
Dudakov-Kashuro is the Associate Professor of Moscow State University and teaches at the Higher School of Art Practices and Museum Technologies of the Russian State University for the Humanities. A scholar specialising in art and literature of the German and Italian avant-garde, Dudakov-Kashuro has also written on the history of noise music from the early Soviet era. He is a member of The Music Laboratory and a scientific editor and translator of art and program texts of Dadaists (Gilea Publishing House, European University Publishing House in St. Petersburg). Dudakov-Kashuro co-authored the projects Reconstruction of Noise and the Reconstruction of Utopia, which received the Grand Prize of the Sergey Kuryokhin Prize in 2013.


Peter Aidu, courtesy the artist and the Russian Pavilion, Venice.

Peter Aidu (b. 1976, lives and works in Moscow)
Aidu graduated from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with honors under prof. Sakharova. He completed his post-graduate study under prof. Lyubimov at the Faculty of Historical and Contemporary Performing Arts, Moscow. He is a soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic and in 2008, he was appointed the Head of the Music Laboratory at School of Dramatic Art, Moscow. Aidu has played numerous solo live performances in Russia, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan, amongst other countries.

About the Russian Pavilion
The Russian Pavilion in the Giardini in Venice was designed by Alexei Shchusev and ceremonially opened by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia in 1914. Russian artists have been participating in the Biennale from the first Venice Exhibition of 1895 and since, over 800 Russian artists have participated from leading names like Repin, Malevich and Kabakov to emerging artists. Semyon Mikhailovsky was appointed Commissioner of the Russian Pavilion at the art and architecture Venice Biennales in 2016 and will hold the post until 2021. The Russian Pavilion is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Russia and ROSIZO. The core funding for the project comes from private sponsorship.


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