press release

The Melancholy of Resistance is the third foreign collection being presented at CoCA in Torun. The first was the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection, the second - the Daros Latinamerica Collection. The exhibition, prepared by CoCA's curators, constitutes a part of a cycle iniciated by the Centre's first Chief Curator, Joanna Zielinska. It focuses on that part of the M HKA collection that is oriented towards Post-Soviet Art, basing on a selection of its works acquired in relation to the project Europe at Large and the formerly acquired works from Eastern Europe. During the opening ceremony, M HKA's Director, Bart de Baere, is going to tell the story of this amazing collection.

The Melancholy of Resistance exhibition constitutes an attempt to acknowledge the voices of various private mythologies. It presents a number of works by artists deriving from former Soviet Republics, such as Ukraine, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. One of the inspirations for the exhibition's curators was the connection between music and social order, that has been thoroughly analised and developed by many artists. These analogies between music and politics were investigated by Frederico Fellini in his 1978 movie entitled Orchestra Rehearsal. A more direct illustration of a procedure notated in a score that is - at the same time - the image of utopian social relations is given in Cornelius Cardew's composition The Great Learning. Intended for amateur performance, the composition assumes an enactment of the procedure of tuning, leading to a harmonious consonance of voices. In the beginning each of the performers sings in his or her own rhythm and pitch, regulated by the pace of breath. However each next word of the score has to be intoned in accordance with the pitch of a neighboring singer of the 'orchestra'. The initial chaotic vocal multiplicity is transformed gradually over the one and a half hours of the performance into a splendid unison.

The title of the exhibition was adopted from the title of László Krasznahorkai's novel, The Melancholy of Resistance, which tells the story of a small Hungarian town, visited by a traveling circus. A key character of the novel is a man named György Eszter - a retired music teacher, who renounces social life and never leaves his home anymore. Immersed in melancholy, Eszter searches for new ways of mending out of joint time through changing the rules of harmony. He gives a monologue propounding a theory that Andreas Werckmeister's harmonic principles are responsible for the aesthetic and philosophical problems in all music since, and need to be undone by a new theory of tuning and harmony.

The space where the main part of the exhibition takes place is a natural space for dialogue and encounter, just like the space of communal apartments, popular in the post-soviet countries. The displayed exhibition provides the collection with a space, through which its potentiality comes into play revealing the differences between presented artistic strategies and attitudes. An excellent example of a tactic undertaken by at least a few of the displayed artists are the works by Vyacheslav Akhunov, who overuses of the aesthetics of Soviet propaganda, deconstructing the language of political rhetoric. Also Sergey Bratkov takes up the topic of a particular type of language – the communal speech. Bratkov conducts short interviews with locals about a park in Moscow, showing the local cultural life of people, who had spent most of their lives in collectives and councils. An affirmative understanding of the phenomenon of the collective is put forward by the Russian neo-avantgarde group Collective Actions (Kollektivnye deystviya), which, till the present day, organises collective performances under the common title – Trips Out of Town. An entirely contrasting attitude, that of a glorification of individual practice can be found in the work of Hamlet Hovsepian, an artist briefly associated with the Moscow avant-garde movement, who returned to the town of Ashnak in Armenia with an abundance of collected experiences and where he currently lives and works constantly drawing inspiration from his home town. According to art critics, his films celebrate anti-heroism and commonness.

The exhibition at the Centre of Contemporary Art in Torun proposes its own, original, method of music-therapy. As Dmitri Gutov writes in a text accompanying his Revolution Opera: 'when you are singing your thoughts improvising, it is not quite the same as talking. The idea is formulated in a different way. Its rhythm is based on outside logic. Thus, sometimes a thing that would never come out in a prosaic statement slips out spontaneously.'

only in german

The Melancholy of Resistance
Works from the collection of M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp
Kuratoren: Daniel Muzyczuk, Agnieszka Pindera

Künstler: Vyacheslav Akhunov, Victor Alimpiev, Sergej Bratkow, Collective Actions , Hamlet Hovsepian, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Rustam Khalfin, Sergey Maslov, Andrei Monastyrsky, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Koka Ramishvili, Elena Vorobyeva & Viktor Vorobyev, Marian Zhunin