Moscow City Government
Moscow City Department of Culture
Russian Academy of Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art Curator:
Peter BelyiAssistant curator:
Lizaveta MatveevaConsulting curator:
Elza Abdulkhakova Exhibition design:
Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents The New Blockheads — a retrospective exhibition dedicated to one of Saint Petersburg's most original yet little known art groups of the 1990s and the turn of the century. The exhibition at MMOMA in Gogolevsky Boulevard restores the legacy of The New Blockheads: along with archival materials, photographs and video documentation, it features reconstructions of objects and installations which had not been preserved by the group due to the spontaneous, situationist nature of their art.
In the six years of collaborative work the artists have presented over 70 performances, many of which did not leave any material trace. The New Blockheads cooperative was formed in April 1996 in Borey Gallery in Saint Petersburg. Inspired by the absurdist poetry of OBERIU futurists and modern philosophy, the group chose the idea of life as a performance as their starting point. Their uncompromising, humanistic 'blockhead perspective' is summed up in the last phrase of the group's manifesto written by Vadim Flyagin: 'Hail to every creature'. Rejecting pre-defined roles and willing to be spontaneous in their creative practice, Vadim Flyagin, Igor Panin, Sergey Spirikhin, Inga Nagel, Vladimir Kozin, Maksim Rayskin, Oleg Khvostov and Alexander Lyashko blended sculpture, philosophy, design and literature to create works determined by the ideals of the group.
Fifteen years after the group broke up, The New Blockheads have almost entirely disappeared from the cultural scene. Their unwillingness to convert their art into money and document their practice has turned them into a myth. The retrospective in MMOMA is to help the cooperative of Saint Petersburg actionists take their rightful place in the history of Russian art.
The New Blockheads continues MMOMA's series of exhibitions dedicated to Saint Petersburg art: the Museum has previously organized solo exhibitions of Timur Novikov and Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, as well as group exhibitions of Necrorealism and The New Artists. About the artists:
Vadim Flyagin (b. 1958) is an artist. He was a member of The New Blockheads and worked in Borey Gallery from 1996 to 2002. He studied Environmental Design at V. Mukhina Leningrad Higher College of Arts and Industry. The artist lives and works in Nizhny Novgorod.
Igor Panin (b. 1961) is an artist and designer. He was a member of The New Blockheads from 1996 to 2000. He studied in Norilsk Industrial Institute and Leningrad Institute of Railway Transport Engineers. In 1990, he graduated in Environment Design from V. Mukhina Leningad Higher College of Arts and Industry. Since 1991, he has been the art director at Borey Gallery. He took part in the parallel program of Manifesta 10. The artist lives and works in Saint Petersburg.
Vladimir Kozin (b. 1953) is an artist. He was a member of The New Blockheads from 1996 to 2002. In 1980, he graduated in Architecture and Interior Design from V. Mukhina Leningrad Higher College of Arts and Industry. He has been a member of the Union of Artists since 1984. He has taken part in several special projects of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and the parallel program of Manifesta 10. The artist lives between Tosno and Narva and works in Saint Petersburg.
Sergey Spirikhin (b. 1963) is an artist and writer. He was a member of The New Blockheads from 1996 to 2000. In 1982, he graduated from Ivanovo Art College, and later studied in the School of Philosophy and Religion and attended the Literary Union of Viktor Sosnora in Saint Petersburg. His publications include Philosophy Se, Horse Meat, The Green Hills of Austria, Wooden Submarine, Maybe, Beckett, Unforgettable Cinema, Unforgettable Stars (with Roksolana Mikita) and 36 or the Film of Split Consciousness (together with photographer Yury Matveev). The artist is a recipient of Andrei Bely Prize (2004), lives and works in Vienna.
Inga Nagel (b. 1963) is an artist and musician. She was a member of The New Blockheads from 1996 to 1999. She is a designer at Viennese Chair and TOPOR publishing houses, lives and works in Vienna.
Oleg Khvostov (b. 1972) is an artist and writer. He was a member of The New Blockheads from 1997 to 2000. He took part in the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Tirana, Albania (2001) and the 1st Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2005). The artist is a fellow of Marat Guelman Foundation for Support to Modern Art (2006), has worked with AL Gallery, and is currently represented by Gridchinhall Gallery. He lives and works in Saint Petersburg.
Maksim Rayskin (b.1970) is an art critic and curator. He was a member of The New Blockheads from 1998 to 2000. In 1993, he graduated in Geography from Saint Petersburg State University and in 1996 completed the postgraduate course in Philosophy in the same university. From 1998 to 2000 he was the founder and chief editor of Maksimka magazine. From 2001 to 2010 he was the founder and chief editor of the Agency for Cultural Information arteria.ru
. He lives and works between Moscow and Cologne.
Alexander Lyashko (b. 1965) is an artist. He was a member of The New Blockheads from 1996 to 2002. He studied in Vladivostok Art College and graduated in Graphic Design from V. Mukhina Leningrad Higher College of Art and Industry in 1993. He is the founder of the photo studio and laboratory at Borey Art Center (1996), inventor of «wet» photo printing, and several projects for large format cameras. He has been a member of the UNESCO International Federation of Artists since 2008. He lives and works in Saint Petersburg. About the curator
Peter Belyi (b. 1965) is an artist and curator, member of Saint Petersburg Union of Artists since 1994, active member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers since 1999. He received a Master's degree in Printmaking from Camberwell College of Art in London in 2000. He is currently a lecturer at the Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences of Saint Petersburg State University and has founded Lyuda Gallery in St. Petersburg. He is a recipient of Innovation Prize for The Best Curating Project (2014) and Sergey Kuryokhin Prize for The Best Work of Visual Art (2009). He took part in the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2008, 2013), and several projects of parallel and special programs of the 55th and 56th Venice Biennales, as well as in the parallel program of Manifesta 10. He lives and works in Saint Petersburg.