Walls Exhibition Video-screening and panel discussion

Video-screening and panel discussion, moderated by Catherine Hemelryk .

At the closing night of the exhibition two films will be shown at Pushkin House: ' Irka ' by Flavia Müller Medeiros and ' Caryatid ' by Elena Kovylina. Each of the films focuses on different aspects of cultural identity and nationality. The film by Muller Medeiros explores insecure behaviour and self-consciousness of young students who migrated from Belarus to Lithuania with their university. It unwittingly reveals trauma of Eastern Europeans who cross the Western boarder for the sake of new opportunities of work and life.

Kovylina's film is metaphorical, ironical and affirmative at the same time. It works with clichés of “Great Russia”, “Strong Russian Women” and “Hellenistic traditions inherited by Russian culture” - revealing the post-colonial condition of Russian culture.

Both films alongside with the exhibition raise the questions about what is the national identity in the era of globalisation. Should we link artistic identity with nationality? Does it influence artist's practice? Is today's Russian art a part of international art world or is it still situated in its own set of traditions? Why do we still ask that question? By doing this, do we participate in the process of commodification of nationality? At the same time we understand that our cultural memory, based on books, films and art we knew as children – is different for each nationality and influences our artistic language. Does this build invisible walls between us?

There is controversy in discussing the theme of nationality – especially at this particular moment, during Ukrainian crisis. But, working at Pushkin House, the centre for Russian Culture in London, we are challenging our mission. Is it mission to promote Russian culture? To protect it? To serve the community? To fight commodification and political manipulation? To help Russian culture integrate globally?

These questions will be debated by the artists of the exhibition and its curator. The discussion is moderated by artistic director of NN Contemporary Catherine Hemelryk.

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