The Russian Revolution changed the map of Europe (and the world, of course); it also changed the social, political and psychological map of the Western World forever. At the same time, its effect upon art was can be seen as relatively late shockwaves of an earlier blast – the artistic revolution of modernism, forever dividing the art of our world from the traditions upon which we still feel grounded. In all aspects of life, the early twentieth century saw long-established paradigms smashed and replaced. It was a new world, and one in which we still fail to find the seeming solid footing our nineteenth century forebears took for granted. The sense that eternal verities are in doubt, that visions can at any moment become mirages and waft away, is both a blessing and a curse, but it is an inalienable part of a world where alienation is an ever-present possibility.
Faith came under immediate threat in these revolutions; it may be a logical inevitability that now, a century later, the world that was home to those early twentieth-century revolutions of spirit is now under siege from cultures of faith on its margins, especially to the East.
The exhibition features works by some of the top contemporary artists to have emerged from the Russian cultural space that produced the Great Revolution, the most obviously colossal event in the history under consideration. They include:
Olga Nenazhivina Leonid Sokov
Vasily Kafanov Konstantin Khudyakov
These are impressive and important artists, all of whom have achieved success in the US, too. It is a truly rare opportunity to see their works in one place. The artists present us with a dizzying, Tower-of-Babel variety of approaches, the very result to which the destruction of established paradigms might be expected to lead. And yet art is always an attempt to create structure from an infinity of possibilities, order out of chaos, to present a new paradigm on the shattered remains of the old ones.
Over the course of the exhibition, a series of talks, panel discussions, presentations and round- tables will be held on topics related to various aspects of the exhibition’s themes. Check the exhibition web page on the Causa Artium site and the Union Theological Seminary site for more details.
The exhibition is a creation of the Institute for Contesting Religious Violence, Union Theological Seminary, in association with Causa Artium, a NYC 501(c)3 arts nonprofit, and the Institute for Studies of Eastern Christianity, Union Theological Seminary. We thank St. Gregory Eastern Orthodox Church and the Kolodzei Foundation for their support and participation.
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