Art Fag City at The L Magazine: From Russia with Exasperation

by Paddy Johnson on October 10, 2012 The L Magazine

This week at The L Magazine, I spend a bit of time complaining about my trip to Russia. I only had space in the mag for about 700 words, so I didn’t get to all of it, but you’ll get the drift. Ask me about the conference in the comment section and I’ll write some more about it.

It’s possible, I have learned, to travel thousands of miles to be introduced to a burgeoning art scene only to return unsure if you’ve learned anything at all. I flew to Moscow recently to speak at Art and Reality, a conference that this year focused on curation. The Petr Konchalovsky Foundation runs the event, and as long as that’s the case, I don’t recommend anyone make the trip.

My reasons aren’t more complex than poor conference organization, but you have to marvel at just how many things the foundation got wrong. Let’s forget about the fact that the keynote speakers with whom I was told I would present never showed up. Such a thing can change easily, and maybe it was a little ambitious to think I’d be speaking alongside superstars Hans Ulrich Obrist (codirector of exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery) and Nicholas Serota (director of the Tate).

Still, that these speakers were even invited suggests a level of awareness of the professional art world that seemed incongruous with what I experienced. That the city’s scene is brand new—its first commercial gallery was founded in 1989—doesn’t explain all the problems.

To read the full piece click here.

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