This sounds interesting: “Russia’s only international arts fair”. The immediate question is, why “only”?, -but the answer is not immediately forthcoming. At any rate, it is a prestigious affair which marries established and emerging artists from Russia and beyond, -with prospective collectors, clients and the paying public alike. The event runs across the 8th – 10th September 2017 in Moscow’s Gostiny Dvor, with tickets ranging in price from a -heavily discounted- 100 RUB student day ticket, to a 25000 RUB pre-show viewing on the evening of 7th September. Children under 16 get in for free. It’s also possible to hire a guide for a speaking tour around the various displays, -for those requiring extra insight, and with extra cash to spend.
A word about the venue itself: “magnificent” seems appropriate. “Gostiny Dvor” (translated as “Guest Court” or “Merchants Yard”) is located a few minutes walk East of Red Square and is an enclosed neoclassical arcade housing a multitude of business, shopping and recreation facilities, plus (crucially) a gleaming-white 82,000 square metre exhibition hall under a sprawling glass-lattice ceiling. What a beautiful space. It’s worth noting that there are many Gostiny Dvors -associated with indoor markets and the like- in various cities across Russia, not least: the sprawling arcade on Nevskiy Prospekt, St. Petersburg. A summary of the more notable ones can be found here.
Whilst Cosmoscow is vaunted as an “international” show, a scan through the exhibitors reveals a predominantly Russian/European demographic, which is a pity, though in the current global climate: not surprising. The less “international” an internationally tagged show becomes: the less successful it seems. However; approximately 50 galleries and over 150 artists from 54 countries (in various proportions) are represented. This includes the USA and the UK too, is that surprising, these days? Khartoum (the capital of Sudan) is also represented, incidentally; -immediately and encouragingly standing out as possibly the most exotic/diverse attendee at hand. It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s only the 5th incarnation of the fair so the overall “span” is actually pretty great, all things considered. The fair also tends towards galleries established within the last 5 years, the venture is no museum piece.
It is, however, considerably well attended by public and industry patrons, the site states:-
“The (last) edition of the fair took place at the Gostiny Dvor on September 9-11, 2016 representing 38 Russian and international galleries and welcoming nearly 16,000 guests. Two thousand people visited Fair’s collectors’ preview”.
There are various categories of classification for the exhibitors on offer, and for other attractions too. These include various talks, a kids programme (themed on the environment) and prize awards; all obviously intended to establish more dynamism than a typical gallery environment.There’s also a charity auction set to benefit the Cosmoscow Foundation for Contemporary Art ; varied programme, indeed. Well, it is aimed as much at the curious public as the die-hard art crowd after all. The Revolution, or at least its anniversary is a conspicuous theme amongst some of the offerings. How could it not be, -considering its current centenary? A main feature is the Cosmoscow educational programme to answer the question “Where is the Revolution?“.
I assume that the answer “it’s 100 years in the past” wouldn’t be appropriate; the organisers are surely searching for legacies here, after all. Visitors can expect to find various individual explorations of the topic in the form of “lectures and public talks enhanced by art performances”. Titles such as “Confuse-A-Cat or Social Consequences of Love for Animals”, “Cultural Potential of Technology: Opportunities for Art and Society Beyond the Boundaries of our Perception” and “(Im)perfect Futures: Utopia as Escape, Inspiration, Critique and Danger” suggest a concerted avoidance of the stuffy and the staid; -it all seems quite encouraging.