Expanding Space. Artistic Practice in the Urban Environment

2 Feb 2015–30 Apr 2016

The V–A–C Foundation's programme for artistic projects intended to stimulate public and professional discussion about the role and opportunities of art in the urban environment. 

It is not easy to embody any artistic statement in an urban environment, especially if we are talking about a megalopolis with its own complex set of public and private interests. An artist inevitably faces a whole host of administrative and technical barriers. The aim of the Expanding Space. Artistic Practices in the Urban Environment project is to identify the points of mutual interest between art and the city, to determine what methods and tactics of public art would be appropriate for the social and cultural life of Moscow.

The curators Katerina Chuchalina, Alexander Burenkov, Anna Ilchenko, Olga Stebleva and Denis Stolyarov started from the belief that the potential of art in Moscow’s urban environment has not yet been fully revealed, and its possibilities are far wider than those already demonstrated by the projects which have already been implemented. Meanwhile, the urban environment is the reservoir of all socio-cultural processes and a powerful incentive for developing artistic practice. Art can and should activate processes leading to the decentralization of cultural production, cooperation between artists and non-artistic communities and structures, as well as contributing to expanding its audience.

As a result of an open call, more than a hundred artists, architects, designers from Russia and elsewhere took part in the programme. The works were selected by a jury comprising an interdisciplinary team of professionals whose work all touch upon the research into Moscow’s public space, the possibilities of art in an urban environment and actual implementation of urban initiatives. 21 projects from the long-list were presented between 26 September 2015 until 30 April 2016 at the exhibition Expanding Space: Artistic Practices in the Urban Environment that took place in the GES-2 former power station on Bolotnaya Embankment. The V–A–C Foundation produced a shortlist of 7 works and, together with the artists, began work on creating and installing the projects.

The exhibition was complemented by an extensive educational program, which included lectures by art historians and urban specialists, interdisciplinary talks and artists' tours to the venues where the projects were being created. The aim of the programme was to define the boundaries of the term “public art” in a historical perspective, as well as to outline the range of issues relevant to urban researchers and public spaces, and to consider them from the point of view of art, urbanistics, sociology, anthropology, design and other fields of knowledge.

A project library of the Expanded Space exhibition, including more than a hundred volumes in Russian and English, has been assembled. It includes books on theory and practice of public and site-specific art, on urbanistics and sociology, city ecology and anthropology, partisan urbanism, urban light design and festive decoration of cities, as well as rare second-hand books on the history of Soviet urban planning and monumental and decorative art. Among the authors of the books are Cecilia Alemani, Gaston Bachelard, Robert Venturi, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Jan Gehl, Claire Doherty, Rosalyn Deutsche, Miwon Kwon, Suzanne Lacy, Henri Lefebvre, Scott McQuire, Elena Trubina, Hal Foster and many others.

Thanks to the collaboration of V–A–C and the Kadist Foundations of Paris and San Francisco, an international artists residency was opened for the participants of the Expanded Space programme.

Participating artists
Olga Andreeva, Nana Greenshtein, Alexandra Lovyannikova, Viktor Shevtsov, Vladimir Arkhipov, Sonya Guimon, Arseny Zhilyaev, Daria Irincheeva, Sergey Kasich, Anna Krivtsova, Sara Culmann, Veronika Zlobina, Anna Kurbatova, Alia Sadretdinova, Urban Fauna Lab (Anastasia Potemkina, Alexey Buldakov), Vikentiy Nilin, Pavel Otdelnov, Alexandra Portyannikova, Vladimir Potapov, Anastasia Ryabova, Kirill Savchenkov, Ekaterina Trubina, Valentin Fetisov, Elena Kholkina, David Essein, Supramen (Emmeli Person and Emelie Carlen).