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Thirty Years of Change: Russian Culture Since Perestroika: (2) Art

The period of Perestroika, starting with Mikhail Gorbachev’s speech to the CPSU Congress in 1986 and ending with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, had a defining impact on global politics and cultural life. In this series of events over the coming season, created by Vlad Strukov (University of Leeds) and Anna Kan (University of Bristol) we aim to remember and reflect on the legacy of Perestroika and its relevance today, in Russia and internationally.  

In tonight's lecture, we look at contemporary art in Russia: its place at the vanguard of change during Perestroika, and its place in cementing the new restrictive conservatism now. 

Maria Engström is an Associate Professor of Russian, School of Humanities and Media Studies at Dalarna University, Sweden. Her research focus is on new Russian conservatism and the Post-Soviet right-wing intellectual milieu, the rôle of the Orthodox Church in Russian politics, contemporary Russian utopian imagination, and Imperial aesthetics in Russian literature and art. Her most recent publications include “Apollo against Black Square: Conservative Futurism in Contemporary Russia”, “Contemporary Russian Messianism and New Russian Foreign Policy”, “Forbidden Dandyism: Imperial Aesthetics in Contemporary Russia”, “'Orthodoxy or death!': Political Orthodoxy in Russia”, “Post-Secularity and Digital Anticlericalism on Runet.” She is currently working on a monograph, New Russian Conservatism: Ideology and Aesthetics of Empire.

Tonight, Maria will speak on connection between late-Soviet / perestroika counterculture and contemporary Russian conservatism, introducing conservative avant-garde artists Georgy Guryanov, Alexey Belyaev-Guintovt, Alexey Morozov and Mikhail Rozanov. As part of Timur Novikov’s New Academy they played an important role in cultural and political transformations during Perestroika and the 1990s. Nowadays their seductive imperial aesthetics is seen by the regime as an important resource in designing new conservative cultural policies.

Sarah Wilson is Professor of  Modern and Contemporary Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is an art historian and curator whose interests extend from post-war and Cold War Europe and the USSR to contemporary global art. From 2012-2013 she held a chaire d’excellence at the University of Versailles-Saint Quentin, with a project ‘Globalisation before globalisation: avant-gardes, academies, revolutions’. She is the author of 'The Visual World of French Theory / Interventions' (2010), and 'Picasso/Marx and Socialist Realism in France, (2013). Her relationship to the USSR started before Perestroika; she is actively engaged with the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre, has published on Russian artists such as Oleg Kulik and Alexandre Ponomarev, and originated the  'Paper Museums: Mocow Conceptualism in transit'  exhibition at the John Hansard Gallery, Southampton in 2014. 



Vlad Strukov (chairing the evening) is Associate Professor in Film and Digital Cultures (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies) at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on film, animation, social media, art, online gaming, transnational television, celebrity culture, focusing on Russia in the twenty first century. He is particularly interested in the role of technologies such as computers in the late-Soviet and Russian contexts. He appears regularly on the BBC, Al Jazeera, American Public Radio, Calvert Journal, The Conversation, and elsewhere.

For each lecture in this series there are 10 free tickets available for students: email to reserve your place and present your student card on arrival.