Something that almost does not exist

E-mail statement by Alexei Shulgin about the state of the arts in Moscow in 1996.

Date: Wed, 21 Feb 1996 23:18:18 +0100
From: Alexei Shulgin
Subject: something that almost does not exist

something that almost does not exist

The Moscow art scene is getting destroyed. Career artists are escaping to the West. You can meet them in Berlin or Amsterdam. Many of the artists who stay here are having to change their occupation since there is no longer any state support and it's practically impossible to find a part-time (and well-enough paid) job and have free time for art. Another problem is that art institutions are in deep crisis. Context is getting very blurred.

I personally like such situations.

I don't think that art is a middle-class domain. The contemporary art system - galleries, museums, magazines - has always been the only possible system for Russian artists, the only target. We have very shifted ideas about underground and left-wing activity here, in the country where Marxism-Leninism won. To be in the underground here means to be an amateur artist. To a certain extent, all Russian artists are underground artists simply because they are not a part of (the Russian) mainstream - even Kabakov.

Russian art is something that almost does not exist.

It actually exists only as a reflection in the Western art system's curved mirror.

That brings me a personally unique and delightful feeling of being in between: mainstream and underground, East and West.

The Internet helps me to enjoy such a situation; it brings more uncertainty in my state.

I am trying to involve more artists in the Internet, but most of them have the usual middle-class mentality and don't speak English. There is another problem - of culture differences. Russian art (even visual) is very much literature-based. Artists have problems with communication and don't believe that they can be resolved.

But things are changing little by little...

I have reached the word limit after which writing starts to pretend that it describes something. What can you describe with words?

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