Did the UK Cancel Russian AES+F Exhibit Due to Political Tensions Over Crimea?

July 10, 2014 | Marina Galperina

An upcoming AES+F exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London has been cancelled. “Maybe it was an internal problem, or maybe it was a result of something in the political atmosphere,” AES+F art collective member Lev Evzovi told the Calvert Journal. “We just got an email that for some reason the exhibition was cancelled. The political atmosphere is very, very hard at the moment and it’s unpredictable, so we never know what will happen.”

The Royal Academy of Arts replied, stating that the exhibit was cancelled “in response to a lack of suitable funding for the project.” The Calvert Journal notes several exhibitions that were cancelled due to political tension, particularly due to Russia’s unpopular — and illegal — annexation of Crimea, compromising programming of a significant part of the “UK-Russia Year of Culture.” Last month, Moscow’s Ekaterina Foundation announced that they will be postponing a Young British Artists retrospective, but denied claims that the funding fell through due to political reasons and Russia’s preoccupation with Crimea. The Calvert Journal also cites the cancellation of a Banksy exhibit in Moscow as possibly politically motivated, but Banksy had never authorized, collaborated or planned to be involved in the alleged exhibit.

AES+F (Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky, Vladimir Fridkes) — internationally exhibited winners of Russia’s 2012 Kandinsky Prize — are known for their hyper-sleek videos and photos feature hyper-sleek actors performing languid, dramatic and ceremonial gestures, in a hyper-sleek, complex collages of settings, replete with seemingly parodic nationalistic and stereotypical imagery. The dynamic tableaux vivant style composition use its international cast in an uncomfortable way, arranging them in narratives the political implications could be much discoursed. It’s all incredibly hypnotic and beautiful, but unsettling.