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Russian Art – Blue Noses, Red Faces 2020

| October 14, 2020 | 0 Comments
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Next week will see the opening of an exhibition of Russian art at the La Maison Rouge gallery in Paris. Entitled ‘Sots Art: Political Art in Russia From 1972 to Today’ (or l’art politique en Russie depuis 1972, for all you linguaphiles) , the exhibition will showcase examples of the Sots Art movement that began in an apartment in 1972 and was later embraced and developed by artists such as Alexander Kosolapov and Dmitri Prigov throughout the 1970′s and 80′s. Shunned by mainstream (and state sanctioned) galleries, artists exhibited their work in their homes, giving rise to the first genuine artistic movement in Russia since the avant-garde art of the early 1920′s.

Russian Art - Blue Noses, Red Faces

However, the Russian state is once again exerting its influence over its artists by banning the exhibition of 17 works of art from the show, claiming that the images will bring shame on Russia and that they were a deliberate act of political provocation. The images, including one of two policemen kissing and fondling each other’s buttocks entitled ‘Kissing Policemen (An Epoch of Clemency)’ by Alexander Shaburov and Viacheslav Mizin of the Blue Noses artist collective (above), were deemed unacceptable by Russian Culture Minister Alexander Sokolov.

Inspired by the work of elusive guerrilla artist Banksy, the Russian artwork was branded by Sokolov as pornographic. “It is inadmissible…to take all this pornography, kissing policemen and erotic pictures to Paris,” he said. “If this exhibition appears [in Paris] it will bring shame on Russia. In this case, all of us will bear full responsibility.”

kissingcoppers3

Unfortunately, since the art is owned by the Tretyakov State gallery, there’s not much anybody can do to prevent the exhibition from being censored – aside from draw attention to the Draconian response by the Russian authorities. Since the gallery is owned by the Russian State, all works intended for exhibition outside Russia are subject to governmental approval and considering that Russian president Vladimir Putin is a former KGB agent, artistic freedom isn’t exactly top priority in Russia.

Ironically, the piece was exhibited at the Tretyakov gallery back in February and March of this year, sans political scandal and state censorship, and is now in a small private gallery in Moscow. However, ownership remains that of the Tretyakov so unless you want to travel to Moscow to see the original work, the image above will have to do. If nothing else, at least Blue Noses and the conditions and prejudice they face in exhibiting their art have been given the attention they deserve by this whole farcical ordeal.

The exhibition runs at the Maison Rouge gallery in Paris until January 20th, 2008.

Russian Art – Blue Noses, Red Faces

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