Reports from the Kandinsky prize ceremony add a dark overtone to events in Russia. First there was the controversy over the winner, Alexey Beliayev-Guintovt:
“The problem is not just that the artist is ultra-right, but that he tries to make an artistic career on his political views,” said Marat Guelman, whose gallery M&J Guelman Gallery represents Osmolovsky. “This decision could hurt the prestige and influence of the Kandinsky Prize.”
Many in the audience, and the previous year’s winner of the prize designed to raise the profile of Russian art, jeered the selection. Beliayev-Guintovt responded with his own kind words:
“My art represents the majority of Russians, while my critics are from the liberal minority,” said Beliayev-Guintovt. “I want my art to mobilize people to support our country’s traditions.”
But the undertone of danger came to life when a group of young artists called the PG Group won a prize for the Best Media Art Project:
“Mounting Mobile Agitation,” about the images in the mind of a Russian teenager, including one that shows the Chinese in traditional dress overrunning Red Square and the Kremlin.
To receive the award, the three young men that comprise the group came on stage wearing ski masks, announcing themselves to be the Moscow representatives of Somali pirates.
“The future belongs to people in masks,” one member of the group said, to a stunned audience. “Your fat-cat lifestyle will soon end and then you’ll all be hung up high.”
“We’re not joking,” he added.
Silence descended on the room, followed by meek applause.