The tense political climate brings new interest in all things post-Soviet, be it Constructivist architectural experiments or Eastern youth fringe culture. But the heated rhetoric of the moment and superficial insights rarely do justice to the complexity of what is going on either side – new and unexpected perspectives are needed.
Czechoslovakian-born curator and photographer Maria Tomanova’s exhibition “Baby I Like It Raw,” held by New York Czech Center, offers a glimpse of how a new generation of artists, who grew up in the Eastern Bloc states after the Iron Curtain fell, see their immediate environment and define their identity. In the words of Tomanova, “the West has grown fat and spun a global web of consumer desire, and what once was the Eastern Bloc is now defining itself with and against a consumer history it never really had.”
The exhibition is largely inspired by the work of legendary Soviet and Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhailov, whose series “Case History” depicts the people’s rough lives after the collapse of the USSR. Included in the show are, for example, Russian writer and artist Slava Mogutin, Kiev-based art collective Gorsad, and photographer Masha Demianova, whose stark photo account of Minsk-based musician Vika NON and kinetic portraits of the Sautin Diving School’s students were published on INRUSSIA.
Baby I Like It Raw, Czech Center New York, NY. Till April 4.