What is the Vanguard in the Russian Avant-Garde?

Lecture by Ekaterina Degot

November 8, 2010, ICA Gallery, Sofia

Born in 1958 Ekaterina Degot is an art historian, curator, journalist and – according to the BBC – one of the leading international art critics. After studying art history in her native Moscow and St. Petersburg, she did research and taught as a teaching fellow in the United States of America and Paris. In 2002 she was a guest-professor in the University of Constance (Germany). At present she works as a cultural editor for the Russian newspaper Kommersant. In 1995 she achieved a breakthrough as an academic book author with her Contemporary Painting in Russia. There followed numerous publications on the situation of Russian and post-Soviet art and the aesthetics of the defamiliarization of pictures such as Kritik der Kritik, oder der Triumph des Möglichen ['Criticism of Criticism, or the Triumph of the Possible'] (1999), "To Be an Artist in the Post-Soviet World" (2000), and Die transmediale Utopie der Russischen Avant-Garde und des Sozialistischen Realismus ['The Transmedial Utopia of the Russian Avant-Garde and Soviet Realism'] (2003). In 2003 Degot played an important part in three large exhibitions: as the chief curator of the exhibition, "Body Memory," a presentation of Soviet daily culture as aided by living witnesses; in the exhibition, "Berlin – Moscow/Moscow – Berlin 1950-2000" in the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, for whose Russian part she together with Pavel Khoroshilov and Viktor Misiano served as curator; in preparing the catalogue for the exhibit "Dream Factory Communism" in the Schirn Art Gallery in Frankfurt. One of her main goals as curator is to break with the cultural stereotypes which influence western curators' perceptions of Russian artists; that is, to present Russian artists in the west who contradict the western clichés of a definite Russian form of representational art.

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