V–A–C Foundation and M HKA engage in a longer-term collaboration by supporting the work of contemporary Russian artists in a variety of way. V–A–C wants to enhance the presence of leading Russian artists, of different generations, in selected European museum collections. M HKA exhibits and collects works by artists from Russia and other countries of the former USSR. The museum focuses on ‘Eurasia’, thereby contributing to the geographic diversity of collecting and programming.

Ian Ginsburg

Ian ginsburg portrait
Lives in Moscow, RU

The artistic practices of Ian Ginsburg (born 1988) are drawn on art history studies, from French modernists to Moscow conceptualists. Through investigations into history the Moscow-based artist talks not only about tradition and continuity, but also about how we look at art and how we can address and interpret it. In Autonomous Replicas (2014), held in the artist’s studio at the FABRIKA Centre for Creative Industries, he recreated an impromptu French atelier of the first half of the 20th century, envisioning a dialogue between the key figures of modernism – Picasso, Braque, Cézanne, Seurat and others. In his project Total Exposition (2015) at MMOMA he put his own spin on Andrei Monastyrsky’s Earth Works, turning the original concept upside down. Then he adopted the pseudonym Ginsburg after a nearly forgotten Moscow-based artist Josef Ginsburg, who had started out together with Kabakov and other conceptualists, but went way underground. Ian found him and literally rescued him from limbo. Josef, as a figure of oblivion in an old grey wool suit, appeared in Mechanical Beetle – Ian's project where he deconstructed Moscow conceptualism and its most prominent exponent Ilya Kabakov.

The meticulously designed show transported the audience to the Soviet 1970s–80s, thereby overturning the common view of conceptualism as a movement that dismissed Soviet ideology as delusional. This view has largely been formed by an archival impulse, which tends to dilute the context so that there remain only the details linked directly to the artist’s persona and to his works. Ian, however, presents conceptualism as an allegory of all things Soviet, thereby likening it to pop art: here is a white Volga, here is an envelope envelope in which Kabakov once received one of his fees for children's book illustrations, here is a familiar birch tree wallpaper mural or a flower stand. But not only does he rigorously, in an almost fetishistic fashion, select these artifacts, which he finds in basements, attics, at flea markets, he uses them to reassemble his own version of art history, exposing the manipulative nature of historical narrative and the possibility of another perspective.