Roaming northern Pontic steppes, the nomadic Scythians were known to have sumptuous funeral rites for their chieftains. They controlled the steppes, with everything that moved across them, and apparently served as intermediaries for vibrant grain trade between the settled agrarian groups of the Eurasian steppes and Greeks colonies on the Black Sea (Olbia, Chersonesus, Pantikapaeon etc.). Splendid gold objects they exchanged for grain ended up in rich burial mounds thousands of which are found in Ukraine and southern Russia. Nothing else remains from Scythian culture -except for buried treasures and probably those stone sculptures, kamennye baby, that stood on top of the mounds. The totally unproductive expenditure of huge amounts of gold was somehow part of the workings of the nomadic war machine. Thus the happy union of the ideas of Deleuze and Bataille materialized in one people.
Archive for the ‘Curator’s Blog’ Category
The exhibition of Oleg Vassiliev’s works opens in our museum on August 14 (works on paper) and September 17 (oils). Displayed for the first time in its entirety is an astounding series The House with the Mezzanine, based on Anton Chekhov’s story of the same name. Vassiliev’s visual interpretation of the story is different from conventional literary critical takes on it. The visual sequence takes the story-line beyond Chekhov’s plot into the Soviet period. What seemed as just ‘words,words…’ in the late 19th century, all this talk about making everyone work equally for three hours a day and devote the rest of the time to seeking the meaning of life, turned into a grim reality of MAKING everyone work.
June 24, at the NEH Institute, the discussion focused on Central Asia. The chief presenter was the Director of the Program on Central Asia Caucasus from Harvard John Schoeberlein. Having shown many fascinating maps, the presenter outlined the history of both the area and the discipline in his two-hour talk. So what’s with Central Asia? There seems to be an explosion of Central Asian studies on American campuses. Muslim countries are on everyone’s minds and the interest in and concern with this part of the world are at their historical high. Pr. Schoeberlein showed one photo of a heavily veiled and clothed woman that we displayed in our “Lost Empire” exhibition of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs, saying that such heavy veiling could be in fact a sign of status. Most women did not wear a ‘parandzha’, because no one cared if they were seen or not. So, heavy mesh over one’s face was probably an object of envy.
After the session, I went to MOMA and the American Folk Art Museums, opened until 8 today (Target sponsored museum day). Here some of my favorites works.
This post is about Eurasia. Europe and Asia combined, Eurasia, however, is a geopolitical term often referring to post-Soviet countries only. Which makes it our museum’s object of study and display. Tiny bits and pieces of Eurasian art and history have found their way into our galleries ne way or another. I am at Columbia University now attending the NEH Summer Institute “America Engages Eurasia.” Notable professors, public administrators and officials have come to speak to us. They all touched upon the topic of the decline of interest in and funding of the study of Russia and neighboring countries (with the exception of, probably, Central Asia) post Soviet collapse. The need now is to re-think and re-organize the scholarly enterprise known as area studies that has traditionally focused on one area of the world. But apart from marketing, what is it that would re-invigorate the study of other countries? Well, people, aren’t you all doctors of philosophy ? I think we have forgotten about the ‘philosophy’ part of it. Philosophy frees from the particulars of an individual discipline and they shold never cut the umbilical cord that connects to the progress of philosophy. Philsophy of culture now is far ahead of regional studies. Time to catch up!
Greetings, guests! This a curator’s blog that will explore and share professional insights of a curator busy with putting together a museum show. I will try to reply to question and comments related to topics of Russian art and current exhibitions here, at the Museum of Russian Art. I will be writing about various exhibition-related subjects, including research findings and my curatorial experience dealing with curating an exhibition on a day to day basis. As I research and structure the material for a new show I come across many fascinating facts, ideas and even little discoveries that never make it into the physical space of an exhibition. I will be posting them, a discovery a day!
See you soon in this little Cartesian gallery of curatorial insights!
To introduce myself, here is the photo.