The Return Of The Memory. New Art From Russia

May 12 – July 29 2007
Kumu Art Museum, The Gallery (5th floor)



Additional information: The exhibition The Return Of The Memory features the artists, whose works define the art of the present decade – the second post-soviet decade. Hence the appeal to the memory – a phenomenon highly characteristic of the general mindset of recent years that was entirely alien to the post-soviet mentality of the previous decade. The simultaneously euphoric and catastrophic 1990s strongly favoured adventurous and aggressive authors and the proactive and medial forms of expression. As an era of significant challenges, the nineties required the artist to exist solely in the present – in the ‘here and now’. At the same time the colossal geopolitical changes highlighted the questions of identity, activating the search for the roots and origins that sometimes lead to lifeless and artificial constructs.


This exposition aims to show that the new decade attempts to restore the ‘broken bond between times’ – to review the recent past. Yet it is by no means an archaeological or bookish version of the history, but rather the history that exists in the individual memory, the innermost part of us – regardless of how we relate to the past. The memory loss that was considered the natural state in the 1990s now becomes the object of criticism and disapproval. The artists recognize the ‘well forgotten old’ through the active social facts.


The exhibition features authors from different generations. This is also a characteristic and predictable phenomenon of the era. The nineties decreased the diversity of the local art scene by excluding everyone except the artists with a specific (similar) temperament.


But now the focus has shifted to encompass highly complicated themes that combine different voices and experiences. Here you see the young artists who are newcomers to the art scene. And there are also the ‘old timers’ who still continue to set the tone for the art scene (maybe even more so than earlier). The participating artists have first hand experience with the changing attitudes to what is considered Russian art. That artistic trend is no longer limited to a small group of Moscow based artists – it now involves a larger community located all over the globalized world. They are the Moscow artists living in western capitals and the Russian-speaking artists of the post-soviet countries – all whose works are Moscow-related. The closeness of this complicated and versatile community is conditioned by the shared memory of its members.

Viktor Misiano, curator


You can also read the accompaning text for the exhibition, which are in Estonian, English and Russian (file 1 and file 2)