Controlled Democracy: Olga Chernysheva (Russia), Georgy Ostretsov (Russia), Claudia Kappenberg (Germany), Radek group (Russia), Superflex – FACT collaboration (Denmark – UK). Curators: Anya Stonelake, Nana Zhvitiashvili

‘We – the ‘nothing’ not counted in the order – are the people, who are ALL against others who stand only for their particular privileged interest’ Slavoj Zizek (The Puppet and the Dwarf)

White Space Gallery is pleased to present Controlled Democracy, a thematic group exhibition of Russian, Danish and German artists, which includes both new and site-specific works. The title of this show derives from Vladimir Putin’s call for the restitution of social and political order in Russia, after a period of ‘wild’ market capitalism in the country. ‘Controlled democracy’ has become the watchword for the recentralization of the state in conditions of faltering economic growth and the only choice for the people after dictatorship.

Controlled Democracy aims to reflect upon the role of the individual voice in democratic structures, and to explore the relations between individuals and the crowd in contemporary socio-political systems. At a time in Europe, when the concept of democracy and questions of a citizen’s ability to both participate in and protest against the political system are so current, this exhibition offers works which consider what is at stake in the processes of modern democracies. The exhibition will be accompanied by programme of special events and a catalogue with an essay by John Roberts.

Works in the Exhibition:

Olga Chernysheva’s video Marmot, features an old Stalinist, who has fallen behind a march where her colleagues are protesting against capitalism in Russia. Bizarrely concentrated, she is sorting some indecipherable tiny crumbs in her palm (while Stalin’s portrait rests casually under her arm). This video is accompanied by Beethoven’s “Marmot” played slightly out of tune on the soundtrack. This work was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2001.

Claudia Kappenberg has created a new site-specific work using video footage of one of her performances in Geneva. FLUSH will be installed in form of a video installation in response to three original stained-glass panels in the east window of St Peter’s church. The stained-glass windows were designed by Edward Coley Burn-Jones in 1880, and are depicting Christ and the Woman of Samaria at the Well. St Peter’s church was designed by James Gibbs in 1724.
A second work, DEMO PHONE, a sound installation will be installed in the upper gallery.

Georgy Ostretsov will make a new work, a Demonstration performance in London, marching from the Houses of Parliament via Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus to the gallery. The artist has created new costume designs for what will be his first performance in London. The Virtual New Government (NG) of Georgy Ostretsov is a distinctly artistic reaction to the political processes in Russia. Ostretov has been developing the theme of new state system for 3 years through a series of performances and exhibitions dedicated to NG. The first exhibition of NG took place at the Marat Guelman Gallery in Moscow in 2002.

Radek will screen a video of their street performance Manifestation (2002), wherein an unwitting crowd of pedestrians who were waiting to cross a busy Moscow street find themselves co-opted as protagonists in a spontaneous political revolution. ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE and ONE SOLUTION REVOLUTION proclaim the banners which were unfurled above their heads by the group, when all they were doing was hurrying to work. Radek will also show New Heads, photographs and sculpture from 2003.

Superflex will show Tenantspin, a 30 min documentary film, about their webcasting project with elderly social housing tenants and artists from ‘Coronation Court’ in 1999, produced in Liverpool with FACT as a result of their Superchannel project with programmer Sean Treadway. Superchannel is an on-line community channel providing ‘experimental space’ and a variety of tools, from a public chatroom to live video pictures, through which users can voice their concerns, both local and global, for transmission worldwide. Content on Tenantspin falls into two categories: artists’ commissions that explore the creative potential of the tenants and their new social networks and The E-Democracy Seminar series that investigates the gaps between national aspirations for the new communication technologies and the grass-roots realities. Subjects covered have included money, The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, restorative justice, fire safety, online voting, care, anti-social behaviour, smart homes, CCTV, cinema and tenant participation.
Guests on Tenantspin have included Bill Drummond, Will Self, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Rene Block, Margi Clarke, David Puttnam and Ricardo Dominguez.

Short Biographies of Artists

Olga Chernysheva (Russia) (b. 1962) Past Exhibitions include 2004 Watch Out! Art from Moscow and St Petersburg, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; 2003 Moscow – Berlin, Martin Gropius Bau Museum, Berlin; 2002 Anti-Fashion, White Space Gallery; 2001 Venice Biennale; 1998 Galerie Christine Konig and Franziska Lettner, Vienna; 1997 Single Works, Galerie Singel 74, Amsterdam; 1993 Galerie Krings – Ernst, Cologne. Her work is in collections in Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; MOMA, New York; Photography Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Claudia Kappenberg (Germany) (b. 1963) Recent Performances, screenings and collaborations include Composition of the Arbitrary, performance Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Arts, London January 2004; The Disturbance of one System by Another, performance Brighton Fringe Festival May 2003; Double plush, performance 291 Gallery London 2003, Flush, performance Centre D’Art en Ile, Geneva, Switzerland 2002, Aeolus, film/video installation Aldwych Underground, London 2001, Turbulence Magnétique, video conference Alba University, Beirut, Lebanon 2001, Umbracadabra, performance at Hazira Performing Arts, Jerusalem, Israel 2001, Zim-Zum in taffeta, video installation and performance Gallery Piano Nobile, Geneva, Switzerland 2000 and Journeys, an educational video project with the deaf community, Camden Arts Centre, London 1999, with screenings at Tate Modern, London 2000 and abroad.

Georgy Ostretsov (Russia) (b.1967) Selected solo exhibitions: 2003 Eat, Silly, mural in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; 2003 Insurgents, Marat Guelman Gallery, Kiev; 2000 Visitor, the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. Selected group exhibitions: 2003 Art Klyazma, Second Festival of Open-Air Art, Moscow Region; 2003 Investigation Through Art, Forum of Arts Initiatives, New Manege, Moscow; 2000 Youth Welcomes the 3rd Millennium, photo biennial, Moscow; 1999 Western Europe after the Berlin Wall, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; 1993 Contemporary Art Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey; 1987 Russian Non-Conformist Art of the 1980s, CIRC Society, Amsterdam. His works are in the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic, St. Petersburg, Freud Museum of Dreams, St. Petersburg.

Radek Community (Moscow): Maxim Karakulov (b. 1977), David Ter-Oganian (1981), Pavel Mikitenko (1977), Petr Bystrov (1981), Valery Chtak (1983), Alexander Korneev (1980), Alexey Buldakov (1980), Andrei Serguienko (1977), Vladis Shapovalov (1981).
Selected group exhibitions: 2004 Na Kurort! Kunsthalle Baden Baden. 2003 Prague Biennale I; 2002: Manifesta 4, Frankfurt; Fresh Cream, Tate Modern, London; Davai! Contemporary Art from Russia, Postfuhramt, Berlin; Made in France, Andrey Sakharov Museum, Moscow; 100% of vision, Regina, Moscow; Invisible Aspects of Nonspectacularity, Zverev Center of Contemporary Art, Moscow; 2000: The Chairer Movement, street performance, Moscow.

Superflex (Denmark): Rasmus Nielsen (b.1969), Jakob Fenger (1968), Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, (1969)
Recent and forthcoming projects: 06.2004: Guarana Power, Detox – Riksutstillinger, Norway, Kristiansand, Sorlandets Kunstmuseum and the QUART music Festival; Socle du Monde, Herning Kunstmuseum; 05.2004 Monument, Kopenhagen; 01-05.2004 Self-Organization, CalArts Los Angeles Teaching one semester at CalArts; 04.2004 Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Roy and Edna Disney/CALARTS Theatre, Los Angeles. This exhibition focuses on the Guarana Power soft drink production, together with a series of film screenings focusing on self-organisation; 01.2004 Social Pudding: RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA + SUPERFLEX at 1301PE, Los Angeles
10.2003 FREE SHOP Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Niemand ist eine issel, Gak Bremen, Germany. 06.2003 Guarana Power in Dreams and Conflicts – Utopia Station, Venice Biennial 2003. Curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija. 04.2003 One Month Research in the Amazon, Brazil. Superflex had been invited by NIFCA, a São Paolo-based foundation called Extra Arte and the Amazonian government to undertake a research residency based in the town of Maués.
03.2003 FOREIGNERS PLEASE DON’T LEAVE US ALONE WITH THE DANES. This poster has been put up as a street poster in Graz (Austria), Linz (Austria), Malmo (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Odense and Vollsmose (Denmark). It was made for the following exhibitions: The Global Complex, Grazer Kunstverein in Graz , Austria. The Global Complex, O.K. Centrum für Gegenwartskunst in LInz. Austria. Skulptur i eventyrhaven & Vollsmose 2002, Odense bys kunstfond, Denmark.

Discussion  3 September 2004 18.30. White Space Gallery
Panel discussion on issues of Western democracy, introduced by the British artist Stuart Brisley. Moderator: John Roberts, writer and art critic.

Sponsors: Visiting Arts, Elephant Trust, The German Embassy in London, GAZPROM.