“Culture in isolation from the soil and anti-war art”: this was the title of the discussion, the participants of which were people who are directly related to art. Artists Vladimir Dubossarsky and Artem Loskutov, director and head of ArtDocFest Vitaly Manskiy, gallerist and producer Marat Gelman (he is also the moderator and initiator of this discussion within the framework of the 4th Anti-War Conference of the FRF) and others.
The hottest argument broke out around the theme of whether Russian art represents the Russian people today. “I have the feeling that I do not represent anyone,” lamented Vitaly Mansky. “You shouldn’t think like that,” objected Marat Gelman. – On the contrary, we need to show with all of our actions: Russian society is like us, not like them. We may be in the minority, but those who are in the majority are infantile. They’ll take one look and join in. There is a God and a pig in every man…”
The second point that provoked a heated discussion (and there was a lot to discuss because the conference hall of Riga’s Monika Hotel was full during the discussion) was what position a Russian artist (in the broad sense of the word) should take right now, during Putin’s Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
“I don’t want to insinuate anything, but I don’t understand how one can live both in Tallinn and in Moscow now,” said Vitaly Mansky, glancing at Vladimir Dubossarsky. But other conference participants responded instead.
For example, the publicist and former (in 1997) Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Alfred Koch said that sitting in well-off and comfortable Riga, it is very easy to judge how people who are still in Russia for one reason or another should act: “Should the artist speak openly, should not speak… It is always easier to say what someone else should do than to sit in his place and try to speak openly from there. Knowing that as soon as you open your mouth, they’ll come after you – and you’ll go where Yevgeny Roizman went. Or Ilya Yashin. So do not judge, lest you be judged. Of course, we should support Ukraine in its quest for victory with all our might, I’m not questioning it in any way, on the contrary! But I ask you to be more tolerant to each other…”.
In the end, the discussion participants came to the conclusion most precisely formulated by Marat Gelman: “Russian culture will either break away from the curse of the territory and take off, or it will be zero decade”.
The first option, of course, is more cheerful…