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Passport Picks

Capitalist propaganda

There are many art galleries showing contemporary art in Moscow during the Biennale, and you might not be able to see all of them, so here is one that we think you shouldnt miss.

Igor Baskakov is already popular with Western collectors, and if you like your art to go up on the wall and up in price, then the exhibition of his works at Atelier No. 2 is for you.

Baskakov received a very traditional art training, in portraits, drawing and landscapes, but his work subverts that tradition. He grew up during the period of Perestroika, when the West its politics, its business, its culture was just beginning the assault on the USSR. As a student Baskakov worked with the Union of Soviet Poster Artists, the industrial arts group that had once been one of the most influential manipulators of communist ideology (see our article about posters). Baskakov was at the very centre of this maelstrom, working on the side of Communism while experiencing the onslaught of Capitalism. His work subsumes these two opposing ideologies; he takes the advertising logos and slogans of Western multinationals and refashions them in the Soviet propaganda style. The result appears to be a joke at first, like Warhols soup cans, but what it says about the end of an empire is still painful for many Russians, and its commentary on the new empire of Capitalism is perhaps not so funny even for the invading Westerners.

When: Jan. 28 to Feb. 12
Where: 10 Krymsky Val, Central House of Artists, Room 18, 3rd Floor. M. Park Kultury.
Tel (English-speaking) 107 1013
Atelier No. 2. Tel/fax 925 9964


Sharks and Shipwrecks

Photographers and cinematographers from over a dozen countries will be competing for prizes at Moscows Fourth International Underwater Art festival.  All films in the festival are in English, except those from the CIS. Ex-Navy Seal Tom Campbell used his recon skills to infiltrate populations of lethal sea creatures and film his entries Shark Island and Miracle Venom.

We like the sound of The Secrets of Lake Ladoga by Boris Kuznetsov which will give viewers an idea of what lies below the surface closer to home. Andrei Makarevich, one of the first stars of Russian rock, is chairing the festivals jury. He brings more to the competition than just his famous face he has thirty years of experience in underwater photography, and hosts the TV show The Undersea World of Andrei Makarevich.

When: Feb. 24 27
Where: Olimpiisky Sports Complex, 16 Olimpiisky Prospect. M. Prospekt Mira.
Tel: 725 3325.


Fat Drums

For well over a thousand years, the taiko (literally fat drum in Japanese) was a solo instrument that could only be heard in Shinto or Buddhist temples. The vigorous polyphony of taiko ensembles, so popular in concert halls around the world today, was invented in the 1950?s by a Japanese jazz drummer, who came up with the idea that taikos would sound effective in chorus.

Last years Moscow engagement of the Yamato ensemble from Nara, Japan, was a sell-out. This years program, entitled Kaminari/Thunder promises to be equally dramatic, so get your tickets early.

When: Feb. 22 and 23
Where: The Moscow Operetta Theater, 6 Bolshaya Dmitrovka, m. Teatralnaya.
Tel: 292 1237, 916 5555.

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