Recent conflicts between the artistic and ruling elites in Russia touched upon the issue of the political and religious engagement of artists and their ethical responsibility for their work. These episodes provoked ongoing and passionate debates about artistic freedom in which all the main firebands found themselves involved. Once again, one of the most painful and inescapable subjects of Russian historical reality has emerged from these debates.
Svoboda means ‘freedom’ in Russian – written in Roman characters it loses the fulfillment of its meaning and becomes just a word. It’s a metaphor for the perception of freedom in Russia; the combination of discrete letters turns the conception into abstraction: the word is still there, but the meaning of it has slipped away. This exhibition is an attempt to investigate the notion of freedom in Russia in a non-verbal imaginary way.
Thinking about freedom and the inexhaustibility of the subject emboding such a complexity of meanings we have focused on the aspect of spatial freedom. In a Russian context spatial freedom is associated with the possibility of moving, going abroad, which was extremely problematic during the former epoch in Russian-speaking countries. Nowadays spatial freedom implies not only the possibility of going abroad but the virtual overcoming of the space through accessible information portals. There are no limits either to thought or the passage into other spaces by means of imagination. Thus, spatial freedom ingenuously verges on information, as technological accessibility of information and freedom of expression exist as basic indicators of individual freedom. Art as the apogee of the freedom of expression has come to be in our time a measure of a free society.
Besides the philosophical and ethical aspects involved, the exhibition explores the interaction of space and art. Intervention into the space is conducted through the overcoming of certain boundaries in the search for an organic synergy with the context. Liberating possibilities embedded within the space, artists explore meanings and restraints of spatial freedom, which evoke such terms as borders and integrity, isolation and unity, void and fulfillment, pressure and lightness, volume and flatness, and spatial memory. Incompleteness of the space restoration allows additional freedom in the spatial interference and the art experiment, and provides opportunities for each artist to create a site-specific piece of art in a self-chosen media. Every single project shown here is an artist’s expression of the perception of freedom.