Russian Exhibit Looks at Belief After Communism The collapse of the Soviet Union left most artists to fend for themselves. Now Russia's new wealth is helping fund new galleries and fuel hopes that Moscow will once again become a major part of the global art world.
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Russian Exhibit Looks at Belief After Communism

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Russian Exhibit Looks at Belief After Communism

Russian Exhibit Looks at Belief After Communism

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Now Russia's new wealth is helping to fund new galleries. And as NPR's Gregory Feifer reports, that is fueling hopes that Moscow will once again be a player in the global art world.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)

GREGORY FEIFER: In an old industrial site next to a train station, workers are building a new gallery out of an old factory. It's part of a new trend just coming to Moscow to use old industrial sites for residential and office space, and to exhibit art. This gallery, called Vinzavod, is housed in a 19th century former winery.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRIPPING WATER)

FEIFER: The tiled vaulted ceilings are dirty. Much of the floor is dirt and it's freezing because there's no heat. No clean exposed brick surfaces here; this is truly an industrial space.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

U: (Singing in foreign language)

FEIFER: Back then, Kulik came to the art world's attention for his street performances, for which he stripped naked, went down on all fours and barked like dog while an assistant led him around on a leash. Kulik says that role represented the complete chaos brought on by the Soviet collapse.

M: (Speaking Russian)

FEIFER: Artist Yuri Vaschenko agrees the Moscow art scene reflects a period of revolutionary change but says there's still a long way to go. Artists in Moscow, he says, are still too heavily influenced by their Western counterparts. But he says Moscow's dynamism already makes it the most interesting place for contemporary art in the world.

M: (Through translator) Every time I return to Moscow from a trip I find something completely new. One building has been demolished; another has just been built right outside my window in a matter of months. Life is boiling and bubbling, and art reflects that hyperactivity.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)

FEIFER: Back at the Vinzavod Gallery, construction workers are building what's planned to be a major art center, including artist studios, exhibit spaces for other galleries, bars and bookstores. Director Nikolai Polaschenko(ph) says Vinzavod reflects how Moscow's new oil wealth is changing the art world.

M: Galleries now have money for financing bigger exhibitions, more difficult projects. Of course, it improves the art scene.

FEIFER: Gregory Feifer, NPR News, Moscow.

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