Pavillion of Limited Liability 1.0
House Exhibition in the opening days of the 56th Venice Biennale
Piazza San Marco
Kazakhstan became independent 24 years ago, and it gives 12 reasons to open a pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Kazakhstan has been actively involved in the integration processes in the field of sports, politics and economics, but there is not so much activity in the sphere of culture. In Kazakhstan there are no contemporary art museums, galleries, or Biennale; there is no art fair; and in general there is no infrastructure for creating, storing and exporting Contemporary Culture. Therefore for a long time most of Kazakhstani artists of contemporary art existed within those communities that they have built themselves. A distinctive feature of the artistic world of post-Soviet countries is a practice to belong to oneself, to count on oneself and not only to build oneself as an artist, but also to deal with unprepared reality at the same time. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the artists got access to unlimited resource of information and quickly found guidelines for development, while the surrounding institutions were just beginning the transformation from a socialist to a capitalist model, and yet often they did not understand how to do this transition. Thus, the artists have become modern, while the world around them hasn’t. As a result currently they live their lives in a unique environment, where after 70 years of constant presence of Big Brother and regulatory authorities they simultaneously moved into the space of partial isolation, where all decisions are made by them.
In this sense, the lack of a permanent pavilion in Venice of one of the richest and most ambitious countries in Central Asia is not very surprising, but it seems a continuation of the preceding trends. For this reason Kazakhstani organizations and people continue to integrate their culture through private initiatives, in this case it happens in the form of a house exhibition. It is a kind of inversion of the institutionalized and academic Biennale, where every artist exhibited in the pavilion unwittingly or knowingly become the herald of the state. There is no state flag hanging above the door; this exhibition’s attempt to embed itself into the general cultural situation of this Biennale is of more personal than a systemic nature. However, the dialogue exists even in the absence of a platform for it, which means that it is highly required to create conditions for maintenance and continuation of this dialogue as soon as possible.
How did this exhibition start? It was initiated by a set of circumstances (the simultaneous presence of initiators in Venice during the Biennale opening), improvisation, and some ideas popped-up in an idle conversation. Hence, there was a start of such themes as private matter, limited liability, irresponsibility or, more precisely, out-of-responsibility. The form of this exhibition was shaped by expectations projected by local artistic environment for artists and curators as country representatives at the Venice Biennale, the relic exhibitions of national representations in contemporary art. In post-Soviet countries these expectations are particularly strong painted with frustrations, anxiety and demands. At the same time the cultural bureaucracy of post-Soviet countries often lack opportunity and desire to provide power for the machines of artistic production and display of neo-liberal era. It is resulted in "facelift" type of work, over-exploitation, transformation of representation in an empty bureaucratic ritual, frustration of the mentioned expectations that will eventually begin to eat themselves.
In the end, the exhibition became quite a commentary to some recent specific institutional subjects, i.e. end of the history of the Central Asian Pavilion, which united the artists of not only a particular state but the whole region, and lack of national pavilions of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries at the current Biennale.
Circling around the edge of empty space of national representation can help the contour of this space make visible and let it become an independent event not seeking external purposes.
Participants: Victor and Yelena Vorobyevs, Arystanbek Shalbayev, Alexander Ugay, Yuliya Levitskaya, R.E.P.
Curated by Vladislav Sludskiy (Kazakhstan-USA) and Nikita Kadan (Ukraine).