Places / Russia

From Russia With Love: My Weekend In Moscow

Hey there, it’s Friday! To get you in the right mood for the upcoming weekend – wherever you are – I’ll tell you about last weekend in Moscow, which was really special…

Friday – I had the opportunity to accompany my boss Mrs. Margot Klestil-Löffler, ambassador of Austria, to a very special event. Zurab Tseriteli, president of the Russian Academy of Arts, invited to a dinner party. Among the guests there were a lot of ambassadors and famous Russian personalities. If you always wanted to know what Georgian hospitality and kitchen are like, I guess this would have been the best chance you could get. I didn’t know most of the guests but had the chance to sit next to Vasilij Tseriteli, director of Moscow Museum Of Modern Art. Vasilij is one of the most influential personalities of Moscow Museum Scene and a very open minded person. I enjoyed talking with him. Following endlessly great food, gipsy music, and drinks I was afraid I would not be able to move anymore. And if my boss would not have taken me home I would probably still be there getting served desserts.

Zurab Tseriteli, president of the Russian Academy of Arts, invited to a dinner party. Georgian hospitality and kitchen at its best.

Writing to you from Moscow at night. Peter Noever just passed by here in Moscow. Without a doubt, he is still the Austrian curator who knows Russia best. He was the first of our Austrian museum directors who was open for joint projects with the Austrian Cultural Forum Moscow, which I have been heading since 2009, and together with MAK (Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna) we realized the to-date most important exhibition of Austrian Contemporary Art in Russia: AUSTRIA DAVAJ. It took place in the Moscow Museum of Architecture Shusev in the year 2011. He opened many doors to Moscow art scene for me personally, together with his friend Tina Bauermeister from Berlin. Years later, I am happy Peter Noever still comes to Moscow where I have the chance to show him today’s creative Moscow. It is really interesting to reflect upon how contemporary young creative artists and the curators scene differ from those who moved the Russian art scene in the 90s.

Saturday – The night started at Proekt Fabrika. It is a paper factory that is still in use, and as is very often the case in Moscow there is much more space than needed for production. So the director decided to open the factory for contemporary art. The complex hosts, for example, the main Moscow dance company TsEKh. Together with them and in cooperation with Art Brut Vienna we organized “Music Here, Music There”, the first Russian-Austrian festival for performance art. In the last years Proekt Fabrika has showcased major young artists from Moscow such as Alexander Povsner and Alexandra Sukhareva – the only Russian artist chosen for this year’s dokumenta.

Tonight the space was free for a birthday party for Isabelle Magkoeva, who is not only a highly creative personality and the big love of artist and curator Arseny Shilaev but also a member of the Rossijskoe Socialisticheskoe Dvizhenije (Russian Socialist Movement, RSD) and an activist of the Occupy Moscow movement. Several bands – all friends of the two – performed, some also came from cities like Voronesh (watch the video) in the south of Russia. It was great! After the show some of the crowd got wasted at my place with terrible but albeit cheap wine from the supermarket – while I was writing my little blog entry for you. All in all, it was quite a Russian evening.

Sunday – I was still alive – otherwise I evidently could not continue writing you. It was afternoon and I spent the rest of the day writing some letters to sponsors. In the evening there was another birthday. This time of a very close friend of mine, Valerie Oleynik. She is a wonderful person and for sure one of the best exhibition managers in Moscow. She is working for this year’s Moscow Biennale. The great Biennale team organized the party for Valerie, which also took place at the Biennale’s head office… Well, it’s not just an office, it is the former studio of Ilya Kabakov. I think there is no better place to spend a Sunday night with wonderful friends.

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