Table of contents:
- About naive painting
- How contemporary art in the Congo conquered the West
- About exhibition
- About Russian colonialism and carved fangs
Video: From Congo To Chukotka: What You Need To Know About Contemporary Folk Art
For the time being, Garage has said goodbye to the Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art and opened a new large-scale project, Congo Artistic: Painting for the People, dedicated to the contemporary art of the African country after the liberation from Belgian rule in 1960. Curators Bambi Keppens of the Royal Museum of Central Africa and Sammi Baloji have decided to revolutionize our understanding of traditional and contemporary art. The consequences of colonialism live not only in distant Africa, but also in Russia. Therefore, Garage decided to arrange an exhibition in the exhibition and show, along with canvases from the Congo, the art of the Far Eastern Chukotka. Garage curator Valentin Dyakonov told Bazaar.ru what you need to know about the new exhibition and post-colonial art.
Soviet books and cartoons also inspired our interest in Africa - everyone remembers the lion Boniface or Grigory Alexandrov's film "The Circus" about the terrible secret of an American circus girl - a black child. African romance is close to us. "Khudprom Congo" - "bittersweet" exhibition. It can be viewed without a second thought, like ironic and understandable pictures. Or you can immerse yourself in history and understand how they arose.
About naive painting
We are very fond of naive painting, because the Russian avant-garde began with it. But we don't quite understand where it came from. Someone always opens it for us. The famous Niko Pirosmani was discovered by Russian avant-garde artists who left for Tiflis before the First World War. And Congolese painting - European collectors who loved exoticism. We decided to show how folk painting existed and developed in the realities of our native country. There are many artists in the Congo. They paint signs, do everyday commercial work and paint pictures about life, faith, religion, past and present of the country. The works that arrived in Moscow were collected by a real anthropologist, literally removed from the walls of ordinary working class apartments. This is a living folk culture. With her folklore ingenuity, she is close to the Russian type of ironic attitude to everyday life, politics and life's difficulties.
How contemporary art in the Congo conquered the West
Under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Congo folk painting served as a substitute for popular culture. That all changed after the previous president, Laurent Kabila, took power with the help of very religious villagers. His supporters decided that folk painting, the product of big cities, is a vicious thing, and to depict anything at all is a sin. This Protestant mood extended to the rank and file of Congolese. Painting was not destroyed or prohibited, but by the end of the 90s, the demand for it began to fall sharply. The less popular local artists became in their home country, the more they focused on the Western market. The first artist from Congo to make his way to the West was Sheri Samba. In 1989, his work was included in the famous "Earth Wizards" exhibition at the Center Pompidou in Paris, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin.Samba is still the most famous Congolese artist in the West.
In 2011, the museum already turned to Congolese painting at the JapanCongo exhibition, which showed works from Western collections assembled according to Western taste. And at the Hoodprom Congo we show works that have been created over the past 60 years in the course of everyday real life in the Congo itself. The exhibition was originally made in Brussels by the Royal Museum of Central Africa. The idea to bring it to Moscow belongs to the chief curator of the Garage Museum, Keith Fowle. She has long known one of the curators of the exhibition - Sammi Balozhi. He is a Congolese artist now living in Brussels. In parallel with the project in the Garage, his work is exhibited at Documenta in Athens and Kassel. He is possibly the first Congolese conceptual artist, a sort of budding Kabakov from Congo.
About Russian colonialism and carved fangs
The closest thing to the folk painting of the Congo is probably the popular prints, which the working class and peasants bought in the markets in the nineteenth century. But splint was long ago, and for the Russian part we chose an equally interesting phenomenon. It is generally accepted that colonialism is not about Russia, and at the exhibition "Khudprom Congo" we want to clearly show the opposite. The Russian Empire and the Soviet Union had many colonies, just not overseas, but located on the same continent. For example, Chukotka. In the middle of the 17th century, the Russian Empire first stumbled upon the Chukchi, and a century later Catherine II declared the Chukchi subjects of Russia. But the Chukchi did not consider themselves to be such, behaved extremely aggressively, and any attempts to enslave them ended in great blood. It was impossible to come to an agreement with them on slaveholding grounds accepted in the more malleable limits of Russia.
In 1920, enthusiasts of the revolution were sent to Chukotka, they organized the first revolutionary committee there. After that, for nine years, nothing changed there. But since the beginning of the 30s, the "excursions" of the new government to Chukotka have become more and more constant and cruel - by the 50s, all Chukchi were herded into collective farms or sent to the construction of industrial facilities. Such incursions led to the fact that the Chukchi became less and less and their traditions began to disappear. The same thing happened as a result of the colonial campaigns of other states - with the Inuit in Canada, the Eskimos in Alaska. Already in the 2000s, Roman Abramovich transferred all professional crafts in Chukotka to state subsidies, which today helps them to exist normally.
The carved fangs that we show at the exhibition have been made by the Chukchi since the 19th century as souvenirs for whalers, Russian and American sailors and everyone who traded in the region. This is not a traditional craft, but the result of the interpenetration of different cultures - American, Russian and local shamanic skills and practices. In Soviet times, bone carving craft began to be called traditional and folk. But in fact, this is a very modern art.
Exhibition "Khudprom Congo: Painting for the People", Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, May 20 - August 13, 2017
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