Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow | Exhibitions | Sergei Shutov - Strangers Don't Walk Here

MULTIMEDIA ART MUSEUM, MOSCOW
MUSEUM "MOSCOW HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY"
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Sergei Shutov
Strangers Don't Walk Here

Sergei Shutov. Little science. 1991. Oil on canvas. Collection of Vera and Alexei Priyma Sergei Shutov. Still from the video ‘It's amazing how quiet it is!’. 1994. Collection of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow Sergei Shutov. Still from the video ‘It's amazing how quiet it is!’. 1994. Collection of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow Sergei Shutov. Still from the video ‘Instead of the Minotaur’. 2004. Collection of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow

Sergei Shutov. Little science. 1991. Oil on canvas. Collection of Vera and Alexei Priyma

Sergei Shutov. Still from the video ‘It's amazing how quiet it is!’. 1994. Collection of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow

Sergei Shutov. Still from the video ‘It's amazing how quiet it is!’. 1994. Collection of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow

Sergei Shutov. Still from the video ‘Instead of the Minotaur’. 2004. Collection of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow

Moscow, 4.09—5.12.2021

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Curator: Anna Zaitseva
Curator: Anna Zaitseva

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Sergei Shutov

Strangers Don’t Walk Here

Curator: Anna Zaitseva

The museum would like to thank Vera and Alexei Priyma for providing works for the exhibition, and the Triumph Gallery for providing audio equipment

The Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow presents the exhibition ‘Strangers Don’t Walk Here’ by the artist Sergei Shutov (born 1955) — a notable representative of the New Wave who was at the forefront of new media art, a pioneer of Russian video art and exhibitor at the Venice Biennale (2001). Shutov is one of the key participants in the Moscow and Leningrad underground of the 1980s and 1990s, and a central figure in the club culture of the 2000s. He was a member of Timur Novikov’s New Academy circle and acted as chief artist of the legendary film ‘Assa’ (1987); he was also involved in VJ at Ptuch (1994—1997) — one of the first clubs in Moscow, and became the founder of this trend in Russia.

The exhibition presents iconic works by Shutov created in the 1990s to 2000s, when the artist actively explored the possibilities of new computer and sound technologies.

According to Shutov, he created his first work of modern art at school — a piece that would now be called a multimedia installation at the intersection of science and art. This project was a prototype of video and sound art: with the help of a school epidiascope the artist showed a long pictorial comic strip onscreen, about the adventures of oceanographers who studied talking dolphins.

Shutov belongs to the generation that grew up on Soviet science fiction and popular science illustrated magazines about the conquest of space, including the famous journals ‘Technology for Youth’ and ‘Knowledge Is Power’. Probably this was the origin of the artist’s prevailing interest in space subjects — it is no coincidence that Shutov is dubbed one of the most consistent cosmist artists of our time. The range of sources for his inspiration extends from the futuristic works of Russian scientists Nikolai Fyodorov and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky to American science fiction comics of the 1950s and 1960s.

Shutov came to the underground art community from the hippie world of the 1980s as a painter. He worked in the technique of assemblage, using various materials (fur, wood, plastic) and acid colours characteristic of New Wave art. Features of the pictorial aesthetics of this time can be traced in Shutov’s early video works dating from the late 1980s.

Back in the first half of the 1980s every owner of a video recording device was under supervision by the KGB as the owner of a device dangerous for the Soviet regime, capable of transmitting prohibited information. Perestroika brought relief and this led to the development of video art in the USSR. Shutov bought his first video camera during a trip to Finland in 1988, then the Panasonic video mixer, and finally the Atari 1040 computer with 4 megabytes of memory that allowed the processing and editing of images. From that moment on, Shutov began his artistic experiments with new media.

One of Shutov’s earliest video works, shown at the exhibition, was created in 1990 jointly with Timur Novikov, leader of cutting-edge art in Leningrad, and based on his textile collages. Shutov set in motion the objects depicted on silkscreens, illustrating the principle of Novikov’s ‘sign perspective’, according to which ‘space expands or decreases when the same sign is placed nearer to, or further from, the horizon line’. Shutov was one of the first to introduce computer animation to contemporary Russian art.

In the work ‘It’s Amazing How Quiet It Is!’ (1994), using pop art strategies, the artist ‘dissects’ the Soviet film ‘Heavenly Slug’ (1945) and turns it into a psychedelic techno-music video clip. Replete with special effects, animation and colour distortions, today it seems a harbinger of visual aesthetics of the iconic MTV channel. A similar method of deconstruction is used by Shutov in the work ‘Moscosmos’ (1996), a quasi-remake of the fantastic film ‘Springtime’ (1947) by Grigori Alexandrov about a woman scientist working at the Institute of the Sun. These video works are a vivid example of the psychedelic line in Russian art.

In the video installation ‘Instead of the Minotaur’ (2004), Shutov goes beyond the screen and engages the viewer in a hypnotic journey through the underground world of the Moscow metro. The constantly changing labyrinth is disorientating and frightening in its unpredictability. The visual series characteristically refers to the graphics of Dutch artist Maurits Escher, whose reproductions of spatial paradoxes are usually considered in the context of psychoanalysis and manifestations of the unconscious.

Along with the theme of outer space, a key theme for Shutov is the game. In the interactive installation ‘Strangers Don’t Walk Here’ (2000), which gave its name to the exhibition, Shutov has designed a parody gaming device by analogy with children’s table hockey. His main characters are aliens surrounded by snow-covered fir trees. The artist has deprived the aliens of the ability to move — they seem frozen solid in a field of ice. The player can only control the ‘Russian landscape’. In a metaphorical sense this is a mental landscape and, as Shutov notes, ‘no matter how you rearrange it, nothing much can change’.

Sergei Shutov was born in 1955 in Potsdam, Germany. A year later the family moved to Moscow. He had no special art education. From 1975 to 1978 he worked as a laboratory assistant at the State Museum of Oriental Art, then as a janitor at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; he has lectured at the Moscow Planetarium and worked at the zoo. Since 1978 he is a member of the City Committee of Graphic Artists. From 1987 he has been a member of the Mayakovsky Friends Club and the first academician at the Academy of All Arts (Moscow Department of Painting). From 1989 to 1991 he collaborated with the Leningrad collective Pirate Television. In 1992 he founded and headed the Institute of Art Technology in Moscow and since 1994 he has headed practical classes at the Moscow Art Laboratory of New Media. There have been more than 50 solo exhibitions of his art in Russia and Europe. Shutov’s works can be seen in the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, and other museums and private collections in Russia, the UK, Germany, France, etc.

 

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