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“Without Limits”: “Anti-Putin” Installation Censored at Petersburg Contemporary Art Forum

December 2, 2011

In the contemporary cultural landscape panorama [sic], when conventional forms and aspects of art coexist with completely new art practices, the priorities get diametrically split [sic] and often impervious to each other [sic]. Meanwhile, we affirm the possibility to [sic] work out mutually acceptable and clear criteria in the evaluation of both a [sic] whole process and individual events in arts [sic].

– excerpt from the Art & Reality Annual International Forum, “About the Forum”

_____ reports:

Exhibition “Without Limits” Had Its Limits
November 30, 2011

“The Stars Speak,” an interactive installation by artist Vasily Klenov presented at the exhibition “Without Limits” as part of the parallel program of the first Art & Reality Annual International Forum, was censored on November 26 and removed from the exhibition hall along with its creator after Klenov refused to remove from the installation words insulting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that a visitor had typed in.
As stated on the official site, the Art & Reality Forum was organized by the Petr Konchalovsky Foundation “to discuss the burning issues in the world of fine arts, its imaginative ideas, practices, institutions, social functioning patterns, experiments, including the most radical ones.”

The forum, which took place in the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library November 25–27, was attended by Russian and foreign artists, critics, art historians, experts, gallerists, and patrons. Its theme was contemporary art criticism.

The first exhibition of the “Without Limits” project took place as part of the forum. It featured pieces by young artists and students working in a wide variety of genres and tendencies. According to organizers, the experimental convergence of different formats within a single art space would help address the forum’s major objectives — to comprehend the state of contemporary visual art and analyze the potential of modern technologies for the presentation of different kinds of creativity.

The exhibition included “The Stars Speak,” an interactive installation by Vasily Klenov, a student at the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia. The installation contained images of Russian stars — Maxim Galkin, Filipp Kirkorov, Andrei Makarevich, and Andrei Malakhov — alongside a display panel in the shape of comic-strip speech balloons. Visitors could type a message in these balloons using a special keyboard.

After one visitor typed in the phrase, “Putin must be castrated, just as he castrated democracy,” exhibition organizers demanded that the message defaming the prime minister be deleted. However, Vasily Klenov refused, explaining that, first, it was technically impossible, and second, that the idea of the installation had been precisely to give viewers the opportunity to freely express their thoughts.

The artist and his work were then quickly expelled from the exhibition.

Forum organizers did their best to hush up the scandal. When one of the artists participating in the exhibition, Sofia Gavrilova, tried to publicly announce what had happened, her microphone was turned off, and the live broadcast of the proceedings was preempted by a splash screen featuring the forum’s logo. Organizers explained all this as the result of technical difficulties and continued the forum.

Source: Fontanka.Ru
Art & Reality Annual International Forum Advisory Board: Alexander Zhukov, Vice Prime Minister of Russia; Alexander Avdeev, Minister of Culture of Russia; Vladimir Kozhin, Head of the Presidential Property Management Department; Andrei Konchalovsky, Chairman of Council of Petr Konchalovsky Foundation; Nikita Mikhalkov, Со-Founder of Petr Konchalovsky Foundation; Alexey Miller, Chairman of Council of ОАО Gazprom.
Thanks to chtodelatnews for reporting on this case.
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