Waiting for a Golden Rain
Two novelties have occupied the Russian art world this year: for the first time, a foreigner curated the Russian Pavilion (Udo Kittelman), and for the first time the Russian state manifested its interest in contemporary art. This interest expressed itself in the unprecedented financial support by the state of 24 milllion roubles (22852 euro). This comprised only half of the budget and the other half was provided by the Stella Art foundation, the commissioner of the pavilion. As a matter of fact, the curatorial dimensions of financing the Russian Pavilion have been more interesting than the actual art exhibited there since the 1990s.
Since the “Red Pavilion” (1993) by artist Ilya Kabakov, no notable artistic achievements have been made. Back then, the event was completely ignored by the state (being quite busy with other issues, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and its consequences). The budget was 10.000 roubles (228 euro), and additional support was provided by “friends”, most notably by the Italian collector Alberto Sandretti. In the 1990s-2000s, the Russian Ministry of Culture organized a competition for the projects of the Pavillion at the Venice Biennial, which gradually became a competition for sponsors – those who could pay the production costs got the position. Often, a curator was called in at the last minute with the good news that the artists able to finance their projects were already selected, and he or she was invited for a trip to Venice!
Eventually, this competition was dropped. Today, the Ministry of Culture chooses the “commissioner” for a specific period of time, (until 2015 it will be Stella Art Foundation). In this context, the current glamorous conceptualism by Vadim Zakharov can be read literally. In a bad need of renovation, (its collapsing roof was restored in 2001) the Pavilion has been waiting for a golden rain. But today, a golden rain can only come from a bank, not from any divinity raising collateral slogans: “Gentlemen, time has come to confess our Rudeness, Lust, Narcissism, Demagogery, Falcehood, Banality, and…. “Elena Sorokina