July 14, 1998

go!After the Cold War passed into history, the Russian government encouraged the war industry to look for commercial opportunities. Tank factories would make automobile parts, warships would become cruise boats, and soon all the unneeded military output would be set to productive use. The Russian leadership named the project "Conversion," and funded thirteen departments. Soon there was a fourteenth. Conversion catalogue (cover) Conversion catalogue (cover)

"Artists have to eat too," observed Marat Guelman. So he convinced the government to send artists into old factories and rotting ships, and he exhibited the recycled materials.
Guelman plus Warhol print
Guelman plus Warhol print
MARAT GUELMAN is the entrepreneurial leader of avant-garde art in Russia. His Guelman gallery represents most major contemporary Russian artists, and he publishes the literary magazine Pushkin.
His architectural group is the lead designer of an ambitious reconstruction. The plan has the block-size national landmark, Gostiny Dvor, stocked with many sculptures.
Russian has no word for "sculpture," Guelman notes, only "monument." He envisions twenty thousand people coming to Gostiny Dvor everyday, and there they'll learn the meaning of sculpture.

As a prominent contemporary art figure, Guelman is the focus of attack by Russian traditionalists.

Not all the artists involved in the exhibit Conversion beat swords into sculptures. In the video Conversion, GIA RIGVAVA dons a nimbus and assures viewers that his conversion is authentic--"You can have faith in me," he repeatedly intones. Rigvava adorned with saintly nimbus
Rigvava adorned with saintly nimbus
realplayer of Video Conversion
(0:25 min. RealVideo clip)
Rigvava spends much of his time away from Russia. At a recent exhibition in Germany, he showed Still (black & white) and Still (pink). The black and white video signals, "Russia is dangerous still;" the pink video soothes, "Russia is lovable still." To get the message, knowledge of Morse code is helpful.

realplayer of Still (pink) Still (pink)
(0:15 min. RealVideo)

realplayer of Still (black & white) Still (black & white)
(0:18 min. RealVideo)

Still from
Still from Bruner'$ Trial

Last year an art terrorist struck Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum. Russian artist Alexander Brenner carried a concealed aerosol can into the museum, and sprayed a dollar sign on Malevich's White Cross. He served six months in a Dutch prison.
His story is the basis for the video Bruner'$ Trial. realplayer of Video Video Bruner'$ Trial
(1:41 min. RealVideo clip)

In the video clip, Malevich's painting is auctioned off at "Sourbee's."

Videomakers Dmitry Troitsky and Olga Stolpovskaya, and Cine Fantom colleagues Stepan Lukianov and Valery Patkonen.
Dmitry Troitsky, Olga Stolpovskaya, Stepan Lukianov, and

Valery Patkonen
Icons Icons Cross and $$ and Icons The video is the centerpiece of the exhibition Bruner'$ Trial at TV Gallery. The show includes paintings of a spray can and a version of Malevich's White Cross. As might be expected, a local art terrorist added a copycat dollar sign to the White Cross.
The TV Gallery is the only Moscow exhibition space devoted to media art. Nina Zaretzkaya directs the gallery, assisted by Alexandra Gordina.
Nina Zaretzkaya
Alexandra Gordina
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©1998 The Museum of Modern Art, New York