press release

The exhibition 7 sins: Ljubljana – Moscow deals with the issue of the Eastern European space and its identity. The exhibition describes this identity through seven typical characteristics: Collectivism, Utopianism, Masochism, Cynism, Laziness, Non-professionalism, Love for West. These can be understood as deficiencies or weaknesses but also as virtues, contributed by the eastern Europeans to the common European cultural identity.

While most exhibited works are understandably works of visual art, the exhibition also includes important achievements from other fields, such as film, architecture, design and pop culture.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive 2 volume catalogue, with texts written by Russian and Slovenian writers (Inke Arns, Boris Groys, Slavoj ÎiÏek; texts on the "seven sins": Svetlana Boym, Ekaterina Bobrinskaya, Eda âufer, Ekaterina Degot, Victor Mazin, Renata Salecl, Marcel ·tefanãiã, jr.).

CONCEPT OF THE EXHIBITION

The exhibition Seven Sins: Ljubljana – Moscow proposes to explore the various dimensions of contacts between the two cities, and to underscore the continuity of cooperation between them and their shared interest in similar aesthetic concepts. Both cities and cultures essentially belong to a common context that has been described as the Eastern European culture. The geographical position, particular traditions and character of both Moscow and Ljubljana, however, indicate how wide the range of issues and contents of such a culture actually is.

Since Moscow and Ljubljana both belong to a common cultural (and social) context of Eastern Europe, the exhibition addresses the very issue of this context. What exactly is “Eastern European culture”, which are its basic characteristics, its identity? The issue of identity has proved to be a highly controversial one, and the exhibition deliberately deals with its ambiguous nature. It presents the “seven sins” that are, supposedly, typical of Eastern Europe, and thus common to Russian and Slovene artists. These “sins” are Collectivism, Utopianism, Masochism, Cynicism, Laziness, Unprofessionalism, and Love of the West. They can be – from an outside, presumably Western point of view – understood as weaknesses and imperfections, but they are also “virtues”, qualities that Eastern, Slavic countries can contribute to European culture to make it richer and more diverse. For example, utopianism is an antidote to pragmatism, stressing the dimension of hope and future perspectives. Laziness gives artists time to concentrate on themselves and the questions that obsess them. Since artists from the East are often not “real professionals”, they can really love what they do, etc. The seven “sins” (“virtues”) have, in fact, been strongly present in the cultural production of Eastern Europe in the last decades.

The exhibition is not focusing on presenting an objective history; rather, it outlines history through a number of narratives connected to the issues of identity, difference and transformation. Hence it also stresses the present: both in terms of contemporary views on history and in terms of the fact that most of the participating artists are contemporary artists from Moscow and Ljubljana, primarily those who are a logical conclusion to the line from the early 20th century avant-gardes to this day. The project pursues the line of work first adopted by Moderna galerija for its Arteast 2000+ collection; the latter presents Moderna galerija’s international collaborations which aim to establish links between Eastern and Western Europe, until recently separated in the sociopolitical and cultural sense.

Collectivism The idea of collectivism is connected in essential ways to the communist system and its heritage. Not only was property considered to be collective; so was the structure of society. The societies of “really existing socialism” were (often rightly) criticized for lacking sufficient space for the individual and for individual expression. Art in Eastern Europe, too, has been connected in essential ways to the idea of the group — and especially to the idea of belonging to a collective social (or spiritual) body — in contrast to the prevailing individualistic positions taken in Western Europe and, even more so, in the United States. In the socialist collective societies, there were numerous parallel worlds in which collectivism was seen as the basis not only for social existence but also for artistic and intellectual production. This parallel collective experience in many instances represented a mode of social resistance that may be seen as a counterpart to the political activism of Western civil societies. The paradox of the socialist system was that it promoted ideas of universality and internationalization while at the same time practicing forms of isolation with regard to both international cultural communication as well as individual artists and groups. In a number of cases, this isolation only served to intensify collective creativity.

Utopianism Communism as an idea and social experiment has been tightly connected to the tradition of utopian thinking. It is true that a number of Marxist thinkers severely criticized utopian writers, implying that the new society cannot be established through some perfect plan or the action of some enlightened segment; nevertheless, the Russian Revolution, and those in several other countries, as well, faced the task of constructing a just, harmonious, and rationally ordered society virtually from scratch so as to make the utopian scheme a reality. Socialist countries have taken the modern utopian ideal of a just, ordered, and rationally planned (and controlled) society to the extreme, exposing contradictions that are an intrinsic part of the conceptual foundations of modernity. Art in Eastern Europe has been marked in essential ways by this utopian dimension — from the classic avant-garde movements of the post-revolutionary period to the official art of the Stalinist era, and from geometric and constructivist abstraction to the critical and ironic interpretations embodied in political and conceptual art.

Masochism Eastern artists and intellectuals have often been reproached for their exaggerated “masochistic” stance, that is, their willingness to accept the role of suffering victim in a repressive system. Nevertheless, within the context of power relations and conflicts, masochism may be understood as a strategy, a mode of social and political resistance. The more monolithic and oppressive the external power is, the more individual resistance assumes forms of megalomania. The masochist — as theoretical psychoanalysis maintains — is trying to impose himself as Master; contrary to conventional wisdom, the masochist, in fact, is the one who imposes the rules. Not by chance do masochists in their fantasies often stand up to, or assume the roles of, figures of political and symbolic power. At the same time, masochism can also represent an attempt to oppose the pressure of production — for example, through long, painful, and meaningless work that, nevertheless, provides unique pleasure in and of itself. In the post-communist condition, after the collapse of the former conventions and the triumph of excessive individualism led to chaos in social rules, masochism became a common stance and a symptomatic artistic strategy. Similarly, as East–West relations have been reformulated, masochism has also appeared in Eastern artists’ attitudes toward the West.

Cynicism If it is true that power in the modern world represents the most explicit form of cynicism, then art and culture can also make use of cynical attitudes as a way of opposing power. In this way, cynicism in art may be understood as emancipation from dominant attitudes, ideological prejudices, taboos, etc. In this context, cynical disrespect may imply liberation, almost purification, and present a new response to the limitations and ideological patterns of political, social, cultural, and personal life.

Laziness The well-known saying, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work,” shows society in socialist countries as being highly inefficient. People were allegedly unwilling to do any work because there was little (positive or negative) incentive and virtually no differentiation between those who were hard-working and efficient and those who were lazy and inefficient. Eastern artists’ fascination with laziness, as well as their own deliberate laziness, reflected the contradictions of a society that had declared itself to be rationally organized, efficient, and highly productive while the truth was, all along, that people only “pretended to work.” These artists nevertheless managed to discover important values in laziness, seeing it as a counterpoint to obsession with productivity and efficiency and, most importantly, to the subordination and instrumentalization of one’s energies in the compulsory search for success. Laziness can represent liberation from an obsession with success and career. It is, above all, a different means of structuring time: through laziness, time becomes an empty, meaningless flow that is itself a form of enjoyment and the basis for an art that is not constructed to be successful.

Unprofessionalism The unprofessional attitudes that have allegedly been characteristic of Eastern Europe are reflected in works by artists who are interested precisely in the potential of such attitudes. First, not being professional may imply a sincere and “loving” (amateur) approach to a certain field. Unprofessional and non-professional attitudes developed by artists and social groups are directed not only against structured work procedures and established ways of relating, but also against the marketplace. Such attitudes imply joy, improvisation, and creativity. Additionally, it is possible for artists to enter numerous fields in which they are by no means professionals and to work within, and with, these fields, offering new insights, approaches, and perspectives as well as, sometimes, criticism.

Love for West East–West relations, both during the Cold War and in the post-Cold War period, have been founded not only on power and politics, but also on attitudes such as love and hate, desire and repulsion, and so on. These emotional relations determine the very idea of Eastern Europe, and Easterners are invariably caught up in a complex array of feelings about the West. The art of the East, too, has been defined in essential ways by its view of the West as the desired and, at the same time, hated Other. For Easterners, the West appears, in fact, as a phantasmal image, the positive projection of freedom, abundance, and enjoyment. At the same time, however, the West is accused of being responsible for the difficult living and working conditions of Eastern artists, their lack of international success, and so on. In short, the West is condemned for its general lack of interest, knowledge, and involvement with regard to the East, as well as for its desire for domination.

Pressetext

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7 SINS - Ljubljana-Moscow - Ljubljana-Moscow
Kuratoren: Zdenka Badovinac, Viktor Misiano, Igor Zabel

Künstler: Natalia Abalakova & Anatoly Zhigalov, Pavel Aksionov, Yuri Albert, Alexander Alexeev & Tatiana Dober, Victor Alimpiev, Julieta Aranda & Anton Vidokle, Vladimir Arkhipov, Joze Barsi, Viktoriya Begalskaya, Goran Bertok, The Blue Noses Group , Borghesia, Buldozer, Janez Burger, Aristarkh Chernyshev & Vladislav Efimov, Collective Actions , Cramp in the Leg , Zvonko Coh & Milan Eric, Vuk Cosic & Davor Bauk, Vuk Cosic & Alexei Shulgin, Domestic Reasearch Society , Gennady Donskoy, Nusa & Sreco Dragan, Dubossarsky & Vinogradov, Alexander Ermolaev, Escape Group , Vadim Fishkin, Kostja Gatnik, Karpo Godina, Bojan Gorenec, Davide Grassi, Mirko Grobler, Marina Grzinic & Aina Smid, Dmitry Gutov, Hidrogizma , Bostjan Hladnik, Jasna Hribernik & Zmago Lenardic, Inspection Medical Hermeneutics , Otar Ioseliani, Irwin , Bogoslav Kalas, Galerija Kapelica , Maxim Karakulov (Radek Community ), Ziga Kariz, Marlen Khutsiev, Viacheslav Koleichuk, Komar & Melamid, Valery Koshlyakov, Alexander Kosolapov, Marko A. Kovacic, Elena Kovylina, Sergei Kuryokhin (Pop Mechanica ), Oleg Kuvaev, Laibach , Tomaz Lavric, Yuri Leiderman, Georgy Litichevsky, Lojze Logar, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Boris Mikhailov, Peter Mlakar, Mumiy Troll, New Stupids , NOM , NSK , OHO , Anatoly Osmolovsky, Alen Ozbolt, Pankrti, Marko Peljhan, Alexander Petljura, Matjaz Pocivavsek, Tadej Pogacar & P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E., Nikolay Polissky, Marjetica Potrc, Dmitrij Prigov, Franc Purg, Tobias Putrih, Konstantin Reunov, Mikhail Roshal, Victor Skersis, Joze Slak - Doka, Klavdij Sluban, Leonid Sokov, son:DA, Stripcore , SZ  (Victor Skersis & Vadim Zakharov), Victor Skersis, Nika Span, Igor Stromajer, Miha Strukelj, Marko Sustarsic, Apolonija Sustersic, TAF Studio , Avdei Ter-Oganian, Slavko Tihec, Leonid Tishkov, Polona Tratnik, Trekhprudny Gallery, Savo Valentincic, Visual Anthropology Workshop , Saso Vrabic, Tao G.Vrhovec Sambolec, V.S.S.D. , Yevgeniy Yufit, Alexander Zeldowich, Yuri Zlotnikov, Dunja Zupancic & Dragan Zivadinov, Konstantin Zvezdochetov