A Review of Irina Korina at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow
First established by Dasha Zhukova in 2008, the iconic Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has since been re-designed by Rem Koolhaas in Gorky Park, Moscow. As described by their curatorial team, ‘the Museum’s extensive program of exhibitions, events, education, research, and publishing reflects current developments in Russian and international culture.’
We've all visited the leading art spaces in Paris, London and New York for our fix of contemporary art; yet not many have travelled as far as Moscow. But now, with the forward-thinking Garage, our attention is turning to see what the Russian capital has to offer. With five exhibitions, a renowned magazine, cutting-edge book shop, and open-air cinema, Garage has evolved into a creative hub like no other.
Re-purposing the 1968 Vremena Goda (Seasons of the Year) Soviet Modernist restaurant, the unique space has always attracted a bustling crowd. Inevitably, the café now overflows with artists, curators and art lovers. Although it’s transformative re-design is ultra-modern, they’ve also restored the original mosaics, which celebrate soviet interiors with the iconic allegory of autumn.
Given that Garage itself was first opened in a bus depot, the design continues to reflect the ephemeral architecture of Moscow – a city that is always under construction. The notable atrium commission is Irina Korina’s three-story architectural intervention The Tail Wags the Comet, which launched in spring during the acclaimed Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art.
Korina’s multi-sensory installation captures the schizophrenic architecture of Moscow. She uses the sounds and smells of the metropolis as vehicles of memory, ranging from rubber, cut grass and sugary cookies. Korina is an artist whose creations consistently embrace the art historical notion of Gesamtkunstwerk. As with The Tail Wags the Comet, each piece is always a total work of art that combines architectural and sculptural elements.
Guided by the young curator Iaroslav Volovod, we were also shown the American artist Raymond Pettiboyn’s Cloud of Misreading. The playful exhibition included a broad spectrum of ephemera, paper works and various texts from the Punk scene through to contemporary culture. Questioning the significance of materials was the Congo Art Works: Popular Painting exhibition, within which flour bags were often used as canvases alongside murals, paintings and artefacts.
After a quick look at David Adjaye: Form, Heft, Material, a survey of the architect’s career, we found ourselves swept into the café for a matcha latte and time to reflect. With five exhibitions in the space, we were happy to have got through at least four. As observed by our photographer, Garage museum’s current exhibitions all felt so immersive that, “we had challenged our sight, sound, smell all before arriving for a piece of cake in the cafe."
After only a few days of studio visits and gallery tours in Moscow, I would urge all writers, collectors and art lovers to bypass their usual city breaks to Paris or Berlin in favour of this art scene. Despite the media's attempts to define Moscow as dark and oppressive, I think the city as a truly magical place: our guide Iaroslav’s frequent use of the word ‘fairytale’ to loosely describe anything fictional captured this mood perfectly.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.
Irina Korina, The Tail Wags the Comet, installation view at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, 2017 Photo: Yuri Palmin © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art