OUR HEADS ARE SO ROUND SO OUR THOUGHTS CAN CHANGE DIRECTION. FRANCIS PICABIA
METAGEOGRAPHY: ORIENTALISM AND DREAMS OF ROBINSONS
10 October - 13 January 2019

On October 10, the Zarya Center for Contemporary Art will open the interdisciplinary exhibition project, “Metageography – 3: Orientalism and Dreams of Robinsons.” This will be the third installment of the curatorial project by Kirill Svetlyakov and Nikolay Smirnov, “Metageography: Space – Image – Action,” which was developed especially for the Far East and realized in collaboration with the State Tretyakov Gallery. The exhibition is free of admission and will remain on view until January 13, 2019.

“The theme of metageography that is developed within this exhibition is one of extreme importance for Zarya: we are always telling both our compatriots and foreign visitors where we are located, the characteristics of the city and the region,” explains Zarya CCA curator Alisa Bagdonaite. “Now, in opening this exhibition, we have the opportunity to demonstrate a wide range of methods of talking about space and our location within it. The answer to the question ‘Where are we?’ lies not only in the geographical coordinates, but also in the intersection of a variety of different relationships – not only spatial, but also temporal and the social, which we ourselves determine. In the context of Zarya’s global mission, the organization of a cutting- edge, powerful cultural route, the project “Metageography – 3: Orientalism and Dreams of Robinsons” is a critical step to a deep and comprehensive understanding of this “place” and the beginning of an extensive dialogue, which will be supported by the parallel exhibition, “One Northeast” and the accompanying discussion, “Towards a New Politics of the Geographical Imagination.”

“Metageography: Space – Image – Action” brings together the insight and experiences of geographers, artists and historical figures hailing from different epochs spanning from 1920 until 2000 The main section of the exhibition features depictions of the space of Russia, which here will be supplemented by bits of local color that emerge through the spatial representations, myths and heroes of Primorye. The new interpretation of the exhibition also includes a series of international artists living and working in Hong Kong, Shanghai, London and Paris. Another section of the display is almost entirely dedicated to the local context, fixing on the figure of the Artist-as-Robinson Crusoe.

“The context of Primorye and its artistic scene has shaped the character of this version of the project rather considerably. The focus is now trained on the concepts of orientalism and exoticism,” explains one of the exhibition’s curators, Nikolay Smirnov. “The Primorsky State Picture Gallery and the Prishvin House Museum outside Moscow have contributed a new series of objects, especially for this installation. This in turn makes “Metageography” as it appears in Vladivostok both more site-specific, and more international at the same time.”

From the perspective of metageography, everything around us is perceived as an invention and a construct, and attention is directed to the reading of geographical images. Pictures of space are compared and analyzed through geographic maps, art works, and scientific or interdisciplinary projects. Metageography serves as a “master key,” allowing one to trace the genesis, compare, analyze and understand the structure and existence in contemporary life of spatial depictions, representations and myths of various levels and origins.

As a curatorial endeavor, “Metageography: Space – Image – Action” offers a new perspective on geography. On the one hand, it construes all geographical space as invented and constructed, while on the other, it confirms the importance of images in understanding space and the operations of terms like “region,” “country,” “Europe” and “the East.”

The works presented in this exhibition demonstrate how metageography can be more than an instrument for the analysis and deconstruction of local myths and regional depictions. In today’s

world, the process of globalization gives rise to a new experience and modeling of space, in which the subject must construct him- or herself all over again. In different societies, one can observe the process of regionalization and the demand for a territorial identity. People are now more aware of the fragility of our established borders, in regards to the concepts of “center” and “periphery.”

Within these parameters, art acts as a tool for action, for the production of space and the construction of original metageographies. With this in mind, one of the creators – the architect Dmitry Schukin – developed a special design for the exhibition, which, on the one hand, follows the model of the previous installation, but also imbues it with a fresh interpretation. The layout features special exhibition structures – machines for the display of works. Several of the works, including objects by Kirill Savchenko, will be presented for the first time in the way the artist originally intended.

The exhibition display was created based on the principle of an open landscape, a space with a group of viewing platforms, where art works are not shown so much as they simply coexist in the same place as the viewer. An important element of the exhibition is the accompanying perfomative symposium, “Towards a New Politics of the Geographical Imagination,” which will run from October 7 through 9, spanning the time between the opening of the exhibition “One Northeast” and “Metageography – 3: Orientalism and Dreams of Robinsons”, and incorporating participants and specialists from both projects, as well as specially invited guests. Together, the three events – the two openings and the performance – make up their own international mini-biennale, dedicated to the practice and politics of geographical imagination. The exhibition “One Northeast” will run in the Small Hall of Zarya CCA from October 7, 2018, until December 16, 2018

In the light of the geocultural and geopolitical identity of the region, the symposium will include political-poetical contributions, directed towards reworking the image of “Primorye.” The program focuses on Primorye as a place for potential geographical imaginations, embodied in the works of artists, writers and radical filmmakers, as well as in the movements and spatial practices of “ordinary” people.

*The exhibition “Metageography” will include works from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery; works by artists from Great Britain, Hong Kong, Mongolia and Vladivostok; contributions from geographers from Moscow and different cities across Russia; maps from the collection of the State Historical Museum; works from the collection of the Primorsky State Picture Gallery and the Arsenyev Primorsky Museum.

A full roster of the exhibition participants includes: encyclopedist Semyon Remezov; British artists Corinne Silva, Idit Nathan and Lucy Harris; metageographer Dmitry Zamyatin; émigré artist Olga Jürgenson; artists from Shanghai, Li Ran; adventurer Alexander Kazantsev; geography theorist Boris Rodoman; captain Nikolay Shtukkenberg; Austrian-Hong Kong artist collective Zheng Mahler. Primorye’s artists: Viktor Fedorov, Evgeny Pankratyev, grouping Hero4Hero, Kirill Shebeko, Hilarion Palshkov, Music band Tumanny Ston, science-art artist Yevgeny Strelkov; Primorye’s first professional artist, Vasily Sheshunov; Vverkh! Association, pioneering explover Vladimir Arsenyev; Russian-French artists Elizaveta Konovalova and Tatyana Efrussi; Moscow artists Kirill Savchenkov, Mikhail Maksimov, Maksim Smirennomudrensky, Max Sher, Ekaterina Lazareva, Pavel Otdelnov, Dmitry Filippov, Dmitry Venkov, Egor Plotnikov; member of the Artists Union Ilias Zinatulin; Collective Actions group; photographer Mikhail Prishvin; Natalia Goncharova, Elena Berg, Ivan Chuikov, Valery Gerlovin, Vyacheslav Koleichuk, Mikhail Tarkhanov, Irina Dubrovskaya, Nikolai Kozlov, and others (Tretyakov Gallery collection).