Russian Gallerist Investigated for “Extremism” Over Stalin Anti-Olympics Art

June 26, 2013 | Marina Galperina

They got Marat Guelman. Unbelievable.

Marat Guelman — one of Russia’s most forward-thinking high-ranking art figures with vast experience in pushing Kremlin’s sensitive buttons, has been fired as the director of the vital  Perm Museum of Contemporary Art, which he created in 2008.

In an Ai Weiwei-style manhunt, Guelman’s finances are being “looked into” and the galerist himself is being investigated for “extremism,” the Art Newspaper reports. A few days ago, the authorities shut down Guelman’s “Welcome! Sochi 2014” exhibition at his summer festival in Perm.

But first, Siberian artist Vasily Slonov challenged the upcoming “corrupt Kremlin vanity project” — the alleged ecologically and fiscally devastating Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games and its vastly criticized, opulently disastrous “developments.” In a series of satirical welcome posters, Slonov depicted Olympic rings as nooses and birches bleeding as they’re chopped.

Then there was the one with a vampire-toothed Stalin caricatured as an Olympic mascot. It seemed to hint at unchecked despotism lurking behind the fuzzy patriotism meme of the sporting event. A particularly enraged government rando compared the poster to “how Hitler’s propagandists pictured Russia.” That’s funny, because these official Russian ads for the Sochi Olympics look straight out of the Volk Aryan Family catalogue. 

Guelman was partial to that one, telling Afisha, “The Perm region culture minister closed three exhibitions at the Perm White Nights festival, calling them unpatriotic. I said the censorship was unacceptable and placed them in my museum.” And then the hammer fell. The sickle too. Hi ho!

“All of this looks like they received an order from Moscow. To find something at any cost,” Guelman wrote on Facebook. “And this is even though I’m not in any way part of the opposition, but simply a person who openly speaks what I think. In short, soon you’ll learn that I transported narcotics, am a pedophile or work for the CIA.”

Actually, all this is totally believable.

Since the mid-2000’s, exhibition and art loosely defined as “extremist” and “unpatriotic” has been censored and banned under the Putinist Art Purge. In 2010, Alexander Savko’s Jesus-themed painting from the Mickey Mouse’s Travels Though Art History series almost landed major Moscow curators Samodurov and Yerofeyev in a gulag-like prison colony for three years. They irked the conservative Eastern Orthodox Kremlin crony club with their “Anti-Christian,” “religiously offensive” “hate speech” under Article 282 and were fined $11,000. The painting has been banned from publication nationwide — THIS FUCKING PAINTING OF MICKEY MOUSE.

Relentless, Guelman is already tweeting about the weather from Perm. SHOUT OUT GUELMAN.

(Art: URA)