Sunday, September 13, 2020

Calling Russians Outside of Moscow Provincials is ‘Dumb,’ Prudnikova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 12 – Alisa Prudnikova, curator for art from the regions at the Moscow State Center for Contemporary Art, has taken the lead in promoting exhibits of artists from beyond the ring road and insists that calling anyone from the regions “provincial” is simply “dumb.”

            In an interview with Vedomosti on the occasion of a new exhibit at the Manezh, the curator says she wants to promote dialogue between artists in the metropolitan center and artists outside it on the basis of equality rather than having the former adopt a position of superiority and the latter one of inferiority (

            Since 2017, Prudnikova has styled herself “commissar of Non-Moscow,” her way of saying that she represents an artistic world at least as diverse and interesting as that in the capital and has promoted exhibits both in the center and in the regions intended to ensure that both groups understand that state of affairs.

            She says that sociological surveys of those who have visited these exhibits over the past few years show a transformation in views, with visitors from Moscow no longer viewing art from the regions as provincial and inferior and those from the regions no longer denigrating themselves and viewing Moscow as inherently and inevitably superior.

            Indeed, she says, many visitors have changed their basic observation from the old one that “in the provinces nothing is happening” to a very different one, “and in Moscow nothing is happening either.” Her new exhibit, “Non-Moscow is Not Beyond the Mountains,” is reinforcing that shift of opinion.

            And she concludes that regardless of whether people are in Moscow or in the regions, they can view themselves simultaneously as central as peripheral relative to others. Muscovites may still view artists from the regions as provincial, but Muscovites are provincial when compared to their counterparts in Paris or New York.

            Understanding that, the commissar of Non-Moscow says, helps both to escape from the traps in which all too many have been trapped for all too long. 

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