Summer camp 07/19
The SUMMER CAMP 07/19 is a projects which was supposed to be a mere summertime fun. The North-7 planned a carefree exhibition for the high season. In summer, people long to take their minds off things and engage in art purely for the pleasure of it. Without the Neo-Expressionist strain, without protest notes, without profound generalizations. Besides, the North-7 art group is celebrating their seventh anniversary – a light-hearted, voluntary enterprise of which there are too few in the local art scene with its routine and green stiffness.
The North-7 Research Base, as the group was originally named, spontaneously generated in a studio in the back of Nikolsky Market. Back then, there were no hotel complexes – nothing but the pure Petersburg romanticism: chipped walls and rusty roofs. The Kolomna district with its characters celebrated by Pushkin and Gogol, with its aestheticism and filthiness, dear to the “World of Art” admirers, with its peculiar Petersburg spirit, became the North-7’s alma mater. Anna Andrzhievskaya, Piotr Dyakov, Oleg Khmelev, Alexander Tsikarishvili, Leonid Tskhe, Nestor Engelke, and a few others proceeded with their first projects after the squatter era had come to an end, although their nomadic base reminded of the perestroika times and the “heroic” period of the Pushkinskaya 10. The North-7 moved from one space to another, with each passing year becoming a more and more open community and attracting artists of different generations.
SUMMER CAMP 07/19 is the second part of the group’s anniversary celebrations, which began with an exhibition in Aslan Chekhoev’s Novy Museum of contemporary art. There is, of course, plenty of fun at Anna Nova, but the desired carelessness has vanished.
All forms of leisure found at a summer camp are available here, though one might not be able to relax. At the entrance to the gallery, you can play ping-pong, while adding to the paintings which the members of the group had started before the opening. It doesn’t look like you could be bored here, especially since one of the artists is firing an air-gun at pillows. The pillows bleed. In the summer camp, the naive and the uncanny, the touching and the teenage violent exist side by side. The SUMMER CAMP also speaks about Camp, where childish maximalism comes along with clueless aestheticism, and the refined artistic forms are covered with sickeningly pink yogurt and glitter.
The North-7 summer camp takes us back to the beautiful and terrible Communist past. Many years have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, yet we are still burdened with the memories of that lost civilization. The old Soviet goods, no matter how hard you try to get rid of them, will chase you at your parents’ dacha or in a second-hand shop anyway. It even seems like the Little Octobries with butterfly nets still march around the outskirts of Zelenogorsk, like it were yesterday. This nostalgic mood is unlikely to threaten us with discomfort. In one case, the nostalgia for the placid years of the Brezhnev era people will be shared. In another, the carelessness of the past will evoke mixed feelings.
One only has to feel the difference, savoring the post-Soviet melancholy. Unexpectedly, the summer vacation bring us up against the weighty, rough, visible reality that goes unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of the usual working life. You were just about to play some basketball (there is a hoop and a ball upstairs), when the tattoos on the skin of a creature sprawled in a beach chair catch your eyes. The world of modern tattoos is intricate and naive: someone fancies a cartoon character from the ’80s, and someone prefers a logo of their favorite beer brand. Secret attachments and dreams are presented in their primeval beauty. The campers are creepy like the bowels emerging from old jackets and raincoats nailed to the wall. Just as you reach the upper floor of the gallery, you freeze in front of those surrealistic garments. Few more steps, and you see the washstands dripping with different paints.
SUMMER CAMP 07/19 is an exhibition about the artists who would have loved to take a rest, but the art took over. The North-7 tells us about ourselves, the society we live in, and the country that can not get rid its recent past. Sinister sketches of contemporary life in Russia came instead of the dolce far niente and light-hearted idleness. Although, this is exactly what leisure is for – to talk frankly about life. This way, Sergei Solovyev’s best movies were shot on a vacation. And, in the early 1970s, after working as decorators at a pioneer camp near Moscow, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid came up with a style, which, following a word of a critic, became known as “Sots Art”.
Summer camp 07/19 participants: Alexandr Tsikarishvili, Nestor Engelke, Petr Dyakov, Leonid Tskhe, Anna Andrjievskaya, Nestor Kharchenko, Oleg Khmelev, Liza Tsikarishvili, Sasha Zubritskaya, Tanya Chernomordova, Vadim Mikhailov, Ivan Chemakin, Antonina Fatkhullina.
Curated by Stanislav Savitskiy.