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LENIN: ICEBREAKER REVISITED
THURSDAY, DEC 11 - MONDAY, MAR 09
AMY BALKIN, JUDITH FEGERL, YEVGENIY FIKS, JIM FINN, LISA KERESZI, MARKO LULIĆ, LISI RASKIN, ISA ROSENBERGER, LEONID TISHKOV
In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the icebreaker Lenin to international fanfare which included delegations from the United States and United Kingdom. As the world’s first nuclear-powered civilian vessel it epitomized the “Soviet Peaceful Atom” initiative, which promoted the application of atomic energy for purposes of civil engineering – a program bookended by the opening of the world’s first nuclear power plant in 1954 and the Chernobyl disaster some thirty years later. The Lenin would operate for 30 years before being decommissioned to serve as a floating museum, its hull worn too thin by decades’ worth of ice to continue operation.
In its youth, the icebreaker Lenin served as an icon of the socialist utopian ideal: a classless society based on boundless technological progress through the lens of military advancement and limitless resources through the application of atomic power. In the world that has emerged in the ensuing years, in which a tiny portion of the world’s population receives limitless services in an automated, computerized, late-capitalist utopia amidst a steadily degrading ecology and decentralized global strife, the exhibition "Lenin: Icebreaker Revisited" posits the question: Does utopia still have a social function?
Curated by Olga Kopenkina, "Lenin: Icebreaker Revisited" introduces works in a variety of media from nine artists hailing from Russia, Austria, and the United States.
Amy Balkin’s ongoing project, A People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting, displays objects found in areas experiencing rising sea levels or land erosion, and includes a Russian contribution.
Three works by Judith Fegerl examine the navigation of temporal and spatial reality and myth by way of sound and sculpture.
Drawings and sculptures by Leonid Tishkov show deep-sea divers as a metaphor for the “forgotten utopia” as the early Soviet avant-garde envisioned it.
Conversely, the abandoned and seemingly obsolete appears in American Lisa Kereszi’s Governors Island series of photographs depicting the island’s current state after decades of serving as a military site.
A slide projection and videos by Lisi Raskin show images of human-made environments and landscapes in Lithuania and Afghanistan, marred by Soviet construction, in an installation modeled on an American living room.
An installation by Yevgeniy Fiks features images of locations in Moscow named after revolutionary leaders, which between the 1940s and 1980s served as secret meeting points for gay people.
These photographs are directly attached to the volumes of Vladimir Lenin’s writings, translated and published by the American Communist Party.
A recent film by Austrian artist Isa Rosenberger tells the fictional story of a Soviet naval officer who immigrates to America amidst an eternal afterlife debate between Nixon and Khrushchev.
Jim Finn’s film Encounters with your Inner Trotsky Child constructs the "utopia" of personal salvation using a language that combines hyperbolic Communist rhetoric, lo-fi video effects, and a 1980s’ aerobics video.
Another video work, Marko Lulić’s Sacrifice, documents a modern choreography which pays tribute to Stravinsky’s seminal ballet piece The Rite of Spring, the conclusion of which serves as the starting point of a journey toward a better future.
"Lenin: Icebreaker Revisited" is based on "Lenin: Icebreaker", a special cooperative exhibition which was organized by the Austrian Cultural Forum Moscow, the LENTOS Kunstmuseum Linz, and Rosatomflot and presented at the 2013 Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. It was curated by Simon Mraz and Stella Rollig, and included exhibitions on the icebreaker Lenin in Murmansk, Russia (09/18/2013–01/10/2014) and at LENTOS Museum in Linz, Austria (2/28–05/25/2014). Curator Olga Kopenkina has revisited the exhibition for the Austrian Cultural Forum New York by including American artists.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Olga Kopenkina is a Belarus-born, New York-based independent curator and art critic. Her exhibitions and projects include Sound of Silence: Art during Dictatorship, EFA Project Space, New York, 2012; Reading Lenin with Corporations (2008–); Properly Past at the BRIC Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, 2008; Terror Tactics, a film program at apexart, New York, 2007; Russia: Significant Other, Anna Akhmatova Literary and Memorial Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2006); Post-Diasporas: Voyages and Missions at the First Moscow Biennale, Moscow (2005). She is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University’s Steinhardt School.