Artists: Ohad Meromi, Noa Yafe, Nicole Wermers, Jonathan Gold, Zoya Cherkassky, Olga Kundina, Asya Lukin and Natalia Zourabova (The New Barbizon), and Raanan Harlap.
Curator: Joshua Simon
“Of all the words that once drove forward great dreams and tremendous promise, communism has suffered the greatest damage because of the way it was captured by bureaucratic realpolitik and made subservient to a totalitarian enterprise. The question remains, however, as to whether among all these damaged words there are those worth repairing and setting back in motion”, wrote French communist Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010) in his last essay published posthumously.
Today, our perception of communism relies mostly on its manifestations in the real-existing socialisms of the twentieth century. Although many of the works in the exhibition The Kids Want Communism reference this history, they employ historical events in order to identify potentialities, opportunities, associations, and relations that still hold true for us today. In the first installment, the museum building acts as a sort of space station, venturing into uncharted territories that are inaccessible to us today on Earth. It explores perspectives, axis systems, and connections that seem unacceptable under our current political reality, whose rule claims to be consistent and absolute as the laws of physics which govern our world.
In films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968), Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972), and Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011), the celestial bodies and humans who encounter them echo each other. In these films, the planet approaching Earth, the planet that humans are investigating, and the computerized operating system that facilitates human space travel are all conscious entities. Their consciousness reflects and is fed by the limitations of the individuals and societies that set out to investigate or use them. With its circular design reminiscent of a space station, the museum and exhibitions on display are heading into deep space, where physical laws are unpredictable and differ from those currently at work on planet Earth.
For the first installment of The Kids Want Communism, the museum presents seven new displays: In the central space on the ground floor of the museum, Ohad Meromi presents Structure for Rest – installation for daydreaming in which the public is invited to rest their heads and fantasize about a different world. The installation will travel around the museum spaces throughout the year, during which sleep practice and sleep choreography workshops will take place.
On the second floor, Raanan Harlap presents Public House – a wall relief of an apartment inside the museum, which turns the building inside out like a pocket – the interior is made exterior and vice versa. When we look at the windows and shutters, which we associate with a public housing architectural style, our perspective is inverted and it’s as if the wall becomes transparent.
Four members of the New Barbizon group (Natalia Zourabova, Asya Lukin, Zoya Cherkassky, and Olga Kundina) present a series of new paintings titled Back in the USSR, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are. The paintings depicting their childhood in the Soviet Union, alongside original paintings they made as children. This is the first time these works are exhibited. In the next installment, which will open in June 2016, Anna Lukashevsky – the fifth member of the group, will present new paintings that respond to the group’s current display.
As part of The Kids Want Communism, a permanent space at the museum will serve as a screening room offering a selection of classic films alongside new video works. For the first installment, the venue features three Soviet Science-Fiction films the silent Cubo-Futurist film Aelita, Queen of Mars (USSR, 1924) depicting a communist revolution on Mars; the fantastic masterpiece New Moscow (USSR, 1938); and the dystopian O-Bi O-Ba: The End of Civilization (PRL, 1985). In the space next to the screening room, Noa Yafe presents a diorama of the Red Planet – Mars; images made entirely of physical substances that create the appearance of framed photographs. The work brings the observatory and planetarium into the museum space as it ties together NASA’s contemporary attempts to conquer and colonize Mars, with the meaning attached to it by communist science-fiction literature.
Jonathan Gold presents a mural depicting a line of people – a work in process that entails collaboration with the audience.
Nicole Wermers presents a modular bookcase she has designed especially for the exhibition, displaying a 1970s edition of The Great Soviet Encyclopedia – the Soviet answer to Britannica. Today, the knowledge accumulated in the encyclopedia seems to be irrelevant and obsolete. Throughout the year, artists, researchers, writers, curators, and others are invited to interpret contemporary events and affairs using terms glossed in the encyclopedia.