Touch the Shutter Button
Part of the Collection. Vantage Point Program
The group Fourth Altitude. Untitled. From the series Feat. 2005
Alexander Povzner. Artist. 2016
Gor Chahal. Composition No. 9. From the project Poet and pistol. Fragment. 1990
Anatoly Osmolovsky. Performance documentation Journey of a Netsezudik to the land of the Brobdingnags (Mayakovsky/Osmolovsky). 1993
Date: MAY 27 — JULY 25, 2021



As part of the MMOMA Education Center program Collection. Vantage Point program, Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents a new project Touch the Shutter Button dedicated to analysing the way artists are portrayed in the art of the XX-XXI centuries.

The exhibition has been inspired by a series of photographs recently donated to the museum’s collection by photographer Eddie Novarro (1923-2003), famous for his snapshots of prominent 20th-century artists. When he came to Russia in the early 1990s, Novarro created a series of photographic portraits of Russian artists who at different stages were members of the non-conformist artist community. Studying Novarro’s photographs, which sought to hold a unified image of the artist-persona or artist-human, the exhibition curators contrasted documentary photography with conceptual work, referring to the works available in the museum collection from the 90s to the present day, including artists’ portraits and self-portraits. Visual comparison led researchers to the logical question: is it relevant today to talk about the identification of the artist’s image? And it is precisely this question that the exhibition will address.

Instead of selecting themes, the exhibition approach is based on a study of the methods used by the artists. Therefore, the project has no thematic title, it rather points to a kind of gesture, a process of searching, of fixing. Hence the comparison with the shutter of a camera, which at the moment of closing and preparing the picture, on the one hand, can catch, capture the moment, but on the other hand, limit the interpretation, take it out of context, cut off alternative readings, mortify action. At the same time, the fixed frame completely eliminates the possibility of alternative readings of the action. The conceptual image operates on a different principle, showing the gap between the visible, its interpretation and the possible or impossible other reading on the part of the viewer.

The project’s curators seek to answer questions about the identity of the artist’s image in psychology as well, where self-awareness often refers to the process of defense. The authors chosen for the exhibition are those who are not locked into a complete image of the artist’s figure, but, on the contrary, are open to new ways of reading and searching for different forms, right up to the destruction of the embedded meanings. This also applies to the figure of the artist, who had undergone various transformations by the 2000s: From conceptual statements, as in Vadim Zakharov’s installation Old Frames Protect the Peace of Stupid Boys, to actionist gestures, as in Anatoly Osmolovsky’s photodocumentary performance Journey of the Netzesiudik to the Country of Brobdingnagg, to a reinterpretation of the mythical image of the artist, as in Kseniya Peretrukhina’s series Brides of Josef Beuys, to Gor Chakhal’s search for an idealistic statement. At the exhibition, a particular perspective on the artist’s distorted image can also be found in Lyudmila Gorlova’s photographic series and Alexander Povzner’s sculpture. The exhibition also includes works by Ksenia Dranysh, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro, the Fourth Height Group and other authors.

Thus, the unconventional formulation of the question helped to create a research project based on a visual range from the MMOMA collection, which will accompany an educational program dedicated to the interpretation of the artist’s representation in the history of art.

Collection. Vantage Point Program at MMOMA

Collection. Vantage Point is a long-term exhibition program developed specifically for the MMOMA Education Center in addition to the series of large-scale thematic exhibitions that have become emblematic for the museum. One of the program’s distinguishing features is a different, more focused and intimate approach to the study and demonstration of museum collections, as well as a much more dynamic rhythm of the exhibition. The program combines exhibitions of various types — from monographic and archival to interdisciplinary. Intended to explore individual segments of the collection, these essentially laboratory projects often address private, non-mainstream, artistic subjects and allow new exhibition solutions to be tested.

Collection. A Vantage Point Program provides an opportunity to consider a wide range of phenomena — names, trends, images and ideas in the Russian art of the XX-XXI centuries from different positions and perspectives. In turn, the museum collection itself serves as a unique resource and a convenient ‘vantage point’ for talking about art, history, science, and culture in general. The program was launched at the end of 2017 and is implemented by the curatorial staff of the Research Department of MMOMA.

The program is authored by Andrey Egorov and Anna Arutyunyan.

Located on 17 Ermolaevsky Lane, the MMOMA Education Center was founded in 2017 as a space for creative and social initiatives as well as academic research.

The center’s mission is to promote the integration of various social groups into the cultural life of Moscow. Exhibitions of contemporary art and projects from the MMOMA collection, an open library with over 16,000 publications, a lecture series for children and adults, and a series of family programs are aimed at introducing the museum’s collection and current trends in art theory and research to a broad audience. The space of the Education Center was constructed following modern museum technologies which allow everyone regardless of their level of training to broaden their experience and to get new knowledge about contemporary art. Another important objective of the center is to support young art by creating a comfortable environment for the generation of innovative creative initiatives not only in the field of culture, but also in related fields — science, history, philosophy and literature.