</Garage Academy’s Graduates Explain How ‘Point’ Exhibition Was Inspired By Guy Debord>
introduction and editing by Andrei Savenkov

Konstantin Gribov. From the 10,000 Steps project, photo, 2010-2022
As the exhibitions by graduates of Garage Academy have received critical and media attention unprecedented for an apprenticeship, ODRA has decided to look into the creative process behind “Point 55.754630, 37.638530”, one of the latest Garage x HSE installments.

Russia’s museum and galleries have long been complaining about shortages of qualified staff and this spurred creation of a joint department by Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and Higher School of Economics (HSE), both leading institutions in their respective industries. Known as the Garage Academy, it offers a master’s program and conducts its own scientific research.

Master’s students can choose to study art management or curating. Upon graduation, they are divided into teams, each having to organize an exhibition with financial support by the department. Point was one of those graduate exhibitions, held at the GROUND Solyanka Gallery in Moscow on May 27–July 3, 2022.
Nadia Koldaeva: Drift as a key concept
For the Point exhibition, our curatorial team envisioned a walking practice as an artistic approach designed to reset perceptions of the surrounding environment.

Our research was largely based on Guy Debord, the leader of the French avant-garde Situationist movement. The situationists aimed to revamp the urban environment and construct new spaces to resist structures of domination. Guy Debord formulated the concept of a “drift” (“dérive” in French) - a specific technique for building routes. It represents a non–directional, free movement at the will of the feelings and desires of those drifting, while simultaneously it embodies a counteraction of registering (meaning paying attention to) what is happening around.

In this context, a walk can be considered as a frame for immersing ourselves in research, imagination, interaction with society or the physical process itself. These are the facets of the walk that the exhibition delves into.

Various forms of drifts were reflected by artists in such pieces as “Thisisplanetearth” by Katya Ryblova — an interactive walk on satellite maps — and a long-term project “10'000 Steps” by street-photographer Konstantin Gribov. In the audio drift by artist Anna Martynenko (“Ground&Underground”), visitors could take a walk around the Kitay-Gorod district in Moscow and ‘register’ city sounds.

The situationist view of the urban and social environment as the intersection of shifting atmospheres adds a time parameter to our coordinate system. The fleeting and shifting processes become objects of attention.

Konstantin Gribov. From project “10'000 Steps”, 2010-2022

Masha Yashnikova-Tkachenko: performances and exhibiting the process
To further explore the phenomena of a walk, we included a photo and video documentary of the “Action spot” performance by an art group “Collective actions” as well as “Dream” and “Quarter of the standard” by Anastasia Bogomolova. “Action spot” represented leaving all the politics behind and immersing into the feelings of participants. This project was first realized in 1979 outside of Moscow, not far from the city, the second project was brought to life in 2016 in Chelyabinsk, at the location of a Correctional labor camp called “Bakallag”.

Dasha Plokhova, performance Collective soma, 2022

Often the past existence of labor camps or burial sites is completely unknown to the public and ignored in the modern city’s landscape, that is why Anastasia Bogomolova’s performances studied traumatic experience that thousands of people had to go through in connection with these places.

It was very important to us to not only tell the story about a walk, but also to engage visitors in the process of walking. So there were dance performances every day at the exhibition: “Collective soma” by Dasha Plokhova, “Irrational body” by Anton Vdovichenko. “Collective soma” is a performance of copartnership about a conscious collective action while walking around Kitay-Gorod. There was no need for a supervisor as each member suggested their own actions, and the group had to either agree or not. The agreement should have been reached without verbal communication. The “Irrational body” performance studied a body deprived of any context and rules: the artists performed as living creatures whose interactions followed accidental routes without interrupting each other.

1 / Anton Vdovichenko performance Irrational body, 2018. Photographer: Kristina Schukina

2 / Anastasia Bogomolova, performance “Dream” and “Quarter of the standard”, 2016

Katerina Podobueva: Curating new commissions
Some of the artworks at the exhibition were created specifically for our project. In some cases due to budget constraints we had to resort to crafting. One of the commissions was a total installation “Related spoil tips“ by artists Anya Leonova, Sasha Puchkova and Dasha Senicheva. It documents art raids into various “border locations“ — the places existing within a social, political and cultural context that has significantly changed over the years.

The peculiarity of this work was in multi-composition, where each element had to interact organically with each other. Light, text, sound and visual materials formed a kind of synergy.Example: ::vtol:: — tracer; Ekaterina Balaban — The sea is rough, Anastasia Bogomolova — Bakal.

Another new commission was the installation Walk by Tema Kostenko and Valya Nikolaichuk. It was their first project and first exhibition. This work explores the phenomenon of walking around prison yard characterized by the orderly movement and the sense of incongruity. Window security grilles were installed, and signs were put under the ceiling to recreate what convicts kept in Butyrskaya prison see every day.

The installation uses the bay window in a completely different way, as if breaking it. The work brings to the fore the initial isolation of this place, which usually went unnoticed due to white walls.

Dana Avramenko: Working with site-specific art
Most of the artworks in our exhibition were site-specific, meaning that they interacted with a particular place. In order to exhibit these works, we had to think through a plan to move the works from their original location to the GROUND Solyanka gallery, and it was an exciting and interesting challenge.

1 / Presentation of project documentation
The most obvious and common format for working with site-specific art. Such documentation projects fall within the framework of classical anthropology with the collection of material in a particular space, followed by interpretation and alienation.
Example: ::vtol:: — tracer; Ekaterina Balaban — The sea is rough, Anastasia Bogomolova — Bakal.

2 / Reconstruction
This format allows visitors to relocate to the original site-specific project thanks to the similarity of gallery halls. In addition to the overall visual atmosphere, it helps to pick up on all the important aspects of the work such as sounds, smells and light.
Example: Pavel Otdelnov — Ringing Trace, Anna Leonova, Sasha Puchkova, Dasha Senicheva — Related Slagheeps.

Anna Leonova, Sasha Puchkova, Dasha Senicheva — “Related Slagheeps“

3 / Reproduction of the procedural aspect of the project
In this case, the site-specific project is exhibited through the reproduction of the procedural component. This processuality can be a natural process of dying or a natural, human impact and interaction. In our case, this reproduction also included the opportunity to view the work in its original location.
Example: Vladimir Chernyshev — Suburban Practices, Anna Martynenko — Ground&Underground.

Pavel Otdelnov. Reconstruction of room “Birches“ part of project “Ringing Trace“, 2021

Angelina Vorona: Interacting with self-sufficient architecture
Choosing space for the exhibition about walking practice was a strategically and architecturally important decision for the whole team. The exhibition was held at GROUND Solyanka, a place that already has its own self-sufficient architecture. The gallery is located in a historical building and each room has its own atmosphere and architectural features: some of the rooms have light-colored walls and metal floors, others have old tiles underfoot and traces of previous layers of paint on the walls. And some adjacent spaces contrasted with each other - for example, a large dark room on the 2nd floor and an absolutely light white space of a semicircular bay window.

Ekaterina Balaban, “The sea is rough”. Render (left) and realization (right, photographer: Egor Slizyak)

Having chosen the gallery that does not present works in sterile white rooms, our team decided that this would emphasize the peculiarity of walking. A viewer visiting the exhibition is also walking. Different context and design of the halls will create new experience from the artworks on display. After all, in the exhibition we show that even a daily stroll might be a way to see, notice and, perhaps, learn something new in an ever-changing landscape.

We can say that while preparing the exhibition and visiting GROUND Solyanka during work meetings, our team also discovered something new for ourselves. For example, it was revealed that in the basement there is an exit to the ancient halls and corridors of Kitay-gorod, previously used as a salt storage.

1, 2 / Katya Ryblova, “Thisisplanetearth”. Render (left) and realization (right, photographer: Egor Slizyak)

The gallery’s floor plan to a great degree also determined the exhibition’s show plan as it was divided into four parts representing how different a walk might be: 1. Field research; 2. Сatalyst; 3. Human action; 4.Performance. The gallery building itself has four blocks (left and right wings on the 1st floor, rooms and a large performance hall on the 2nd floor), so on the one hand a viewer can navigate the space easily, and on the other hand, start walking from any part, deviate from pre-set routes and drift spontaneously.

For each space, we chose a single design code — a black thin grid or wireframe. We were inspired by the minimalist nature of the dots and lines used in marking road maps. The company "Archpole" has helped us to realize this idea and provided furniture in our design code.

Grisha Tserkovskyi: Inclusivity
To ensure inclusivity and accessibility at the exhibition, we have collaborated the Special View program of the Arts, Science and Sports Foundation. We developed a tour with a visual description of artworks, created tactile additions to several works in the exhibition, and also held a discussion on the adaptation of museums for people with visual impairments.

One of its participants, a visually impaired young man who has been collaborating with cultural institutions for a long time, has said that inclusive practices should level inequality and not divide audience into two groups. Retrospectively, it seems that this idea became the basis of our inclusive program: anyone (regardless of their health conditions) was welcomed to join the excursions, while the curators accompanied each group. This allowed us to make sure that limitations do not determine perception of the world.

1, 2 / Ekaterina Balaban. From the "Sea Waves" project, photo, 2018-2022
3/ Konstantin Gribov. From the 10,000 Steps project, photo, 2010-2022
4/ Anton Vdovichenko. Fragment of the dance performance "Irrational Body", year unknown. Photo: Kristina Rozhkova
5/ Anastasia Bogomolova. Dream from the Bakalag Project, Performance Documentation, 2016
6, 7 / Vladimir Chernyshev. From the Suburban Practices project, photo, 2015
8 / Fragment of the dance performance "Irrational Body", year unknown. Courtesy Performative Arts Studio "Shift"