Dialogues with Power

  • A project by Susanna Gyulamiryan
    Reasearch, exhibition, and publication (2017-2018)

    Exhibition at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
    Moscow, Russia
    October 23-November 30, 2018

The research by curator and art critic Susanna Gyulamiryan is centered around questions of how contemporary art and – more broadly speaking – culture, relates to power, especially within the Soviet and post-Soviet National contexts.

In order to understand in more depth the Soviet legacy, which would be incomplete without an analysis of the social, political, and cultural aspects of both Tsarist (Russian) Empire and Soviet Imperial Hegemony, Gulyamiryan looks at the figure of Soviet engineer, architect, and scientist Vladimir Shukhov (1853–1939). Responsible for building one of the most iconic symbol of the Soviet era and an earlier instrument of Soviet propaganda – The Shabalovka Tower in Moscow – she takes him as a first case study and examines Shukhov’s method of blending different ideologies in his practice.

Choosing the format of a travelogue, Gyulamiryan presents her discoveries, personal experiences, and critical thoughts. During the process of research, she offered a mural designed by artist Alexey Shigalev. The mural is a compilation of the researcher’s personal journey and critical reflections, as well as thoughts of Shukhov and other researchers on power – historical quotes, excerpts from dialogues Gyulamiryan has recently had – creating an idiosyncratic visual map.

Susanna Gyulamiryan’s preface to the publication is available here.

Along with the mural, videos of interviews with experts active on the contemporary cultural scene such as cultural critic Hrach Bayadyan, artist Dmitry Gutov, and art historian and curator Viktor Misiano are screened. The interviews are built around three main topics that each is asked to respond to. The topics help elucidate and clarify certain aspects of the Soviet Empire and post-Soviet conditions we are living in today: ‘The thinking class in dialogue with power,’ ‘The Soviet avant-garde and the hegemony of the Empire,’ and ‘Is the Post- in Post-colonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? (the name of this topic is borrowed from a journal article of David Chioni Moore ‘Is the Post- in Post-colonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Postcolonial Critique’, PMLA, Vol. 116, No.1, Jan. 2001).

Coinciding with the centenary of the October revolution in Russia, ‘Garage’ Museum of Contemporary Art presents Field Research: Liberating Knowledge organized by Snejana Krasteva – Garage curator and Olga Sirokostup – Garage Field Research coordinator. The exhibition takes the production and liberation of knowledge as its broader theme, bringing together seven new projects that are at different stages of development through Garage Field Research program. Each is initiated by curators or artists working in Russia and around the world, including Afghanistan, Armenia, Congo, France, Iran, Lebanon and United States.

The Field Research program was initiated in 2013 to give new perspectives on overlooked or little-known events, philosophies, places, or people relating to Russian culture. The topics are driven by the interests of the invited participants, and include elements of academic fellowship while prioritizing fieldwork and idiosyncratic artistic research as the primary methods for the production of new interpretations. The museum program provides access to local experts, archives, and institutions, as well as making the process and results regularly accessible to the public. With this, each research project liberates knowledge from belonging to one discipline, to one culture, or to a dominant narrative, and breaks free from the prevailing impermeability of academic and archival institutions in the country.
Participants: Tarek Atoui & Council (Sandra Terdjman and Gregory Castera), Sammy Baloji, Chto Delat, Mariam Ghani, Dmitry Gutov and David Riff, Susanna Gyulamiryan, Alexandra Sukhareva

Established in 2013, Garage Field Research is the first cross-disciplinary platform in a contemporary art museum in Russia. Generated by the interests of artists, curators, and writers working around the world, the program gives a new perspective on overlooked or little-known events, philosophies, places, or people relating to Russian culture.