Kandinsky Prize winner to represent Russia at Venice Biennale
Irina Nakhova is credited with creating the first conceptual “total installations”
By Sophia Kishkovsky. Web only
Published online: 06 March 2014
For the first time, a woman artist has been selected to represent Russia at the Venice Biennale. Irina Nakhova, who won the €40,000 Kandinsky Prize last year, was announced in February to create work for the Russian Pavilion next year.
In announcing the selection, Stella Kesaeva, the president of the Stella Art Foundation and the commissioner of the Russian Pavilion, described Nakhova as “a legendary figure of the Moscow art scene, the creator of the first ‘total installations’ in Russia”. Her fellow conceptualist Ilya Kabakov, who started creating such installations several years later, is credited with the concept because he coined the term, Nakhova told The Art Newspaper in a Skype interview from her home in New Jersey. Nakhova called them simply “rooms” when she started creating them, “out of extreme necessity in the most terrible times of the stagnation under [the late Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev, when it seemed like things would be like that forever”, she says. The idea was “that if I can’t change the world, at least I can change something in my own apartment and do something new and different, where I can at least live in the world of my fantasies”.
The pavilion’s curator will be announced soon, said Nakhova, but she is already in the early stages of planning her project. She says that it will likely be inspired by the architecture of the 1914 pavilion, which was designed by Alexey Shchusev, whose works spanned tsarist and Soviet Russia, including Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.
Meanwhile, a version of Nakhova’s Kandinsky-prize winning installation, which addresses the impact of Stalin-era terror, opens at the Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York on 1 April.
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