Tisdag, 13 September 2011 06:22
Photo: 'Is There A Better Future?', Kaarina Kaikkonen, The Kirov Central Culture and Leisure Park (ZPKO) on Yelagin island
We managed to put on a great public art exhibition Critical Mass after almost 2 years of preparation! A group of international artists from Nordic countries and a Baltic presented brilliant art works in various city public spaces of St Petersburg on 2-26 June 2011. Critical Mass exhibition was organized by The Creative Association of Curators TOK, supported by Nordic Culture Poin and the St. Petersburg Committee of Culture.
Artists from Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway and Russia presented 6 projects related to various aspects of urban environment that appear important both for St. Petersburg and for other large cities all over the world. All the artworks reflect the artists' unique approach the most important issues of life in the city today: environmental problems, the sustainable use of city resources in a growing consumer society, historical and sociocultural transformations, and the future of urban development.
All projects were created by the artists especially for the show in St. Petersburg and will be presented in the city suburban area: in the Kurakina Datcha garden, the square in front of the Troitskiy Center for Culture and the Kirov Central Culture and Leisure Park (ZPKO) on Yelagin island. By placing the artworks outside of usual art venues such as galleries or museums, the exhibition organizers wanted to expand the territory of contemporary art in St Petersburg and make it more accessible for a wider Russian audience. We anticipate that using public art as a tool to encourage people to think about the aforementioned issues we make the Critical Mass project an interactive platform for open discussion and participation of all citizens of St. Petersburg.
The show was opened with an impressive installation 'Dinosaur Egg (Nothing is Impossible)' by the Finnish artist Kalle Purhonen, which is represented by a sculpture made of hubcaps and is placed on the pedestal, where the statue of Lenin used to stand. With this work, the author draws our attention to increasing automobilisation and a serious environmental problem it may cause. A sparkling and a bit glamorous sculpture 'The Diamond Duke' by the Latvian artists Laura Feldberga is closely connected to the history of the place where it is exhibited and also refers to the values of the consumer society. As a platform for his work 'Lucid States', Hrafnkell Sigurdsson chose a bridge in the park at Yelagin island, along which the state flags used to be placed during public holidays back in the Soviet era. The cloth of the flags from the flagpoles from those years resembles protective work wear and the flags appear as anthropomorphic symbols of an anonymous modern day labourer and they stand for the workers as individuals. The piece 'Last Dying Speech/(Speakers Corner)' by Lars Ramberg is an interactive installation for staging, advocating and generating public debates. Consisting of wooden boxes and forming one solid platform, the artwork stresses the importance of freedom of speech, locally and globally. For her project 'Is There A Better Future?' the artist Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen uses children's clothes as a symbol of the future, presenting them as boats floating in the wind. She encourages the audience to think about the next generation and what today's reality can offer them. The performance by the Russian Dance Theater Iguan entitled 'Jurassic Hyde Park' was based upon two artworks of Critical Mass exhibition: 'Last Dying Speech/(Speakers Corner)' and the 'Dinosaur Egg' as well as the performers' research of the urban space of St. Petersburg.
That was a great summer event that was well attended and received by audience of different age, press, local art community and city administration. The exhibition was accompanied by a large collateral program of free public lectures held by the artists in connection with their artwork. During the exhibition there we have conducted a social research with the aim to explore the audience's attitude to public art projects in St. Petersburg. I my next post I'd like to share with you results of our social research and present excerpts from interviews.
We are also preparing a catalogue of the exhibition now that possibly will be available online.
My name is Anna Bitkina. I am a curator and art manager based in St. Petersburg, Russia.
"Сritical Mass" is an international public art project that aims to develop and produce knowledge about public space as a platform for an open critical discussion. St Petersburg is taken as an example of an international megalopolis. Invited artists are asked to discover the most important problems of the city and respond to them through artistic practices.
The Critical Mass project has received funding through the module Production-based activities.