Public art in Kaliningrad. Transformation of public spaces


11.04 - 25.09.2012

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Curator: [Irina Tchesnokova]

Coordinator: Ekaterina Shamova

The project “Public art in Kaliningrad. Transformation of public spaces” deals with the Kaliningrad city environment, and for the first time in the history of the city offers a long-term public art intervention – four artworks in the public spaces of the city will be consecutively created May through September by foreign and local artists.

In the last decades the phenomenon of public art (a Russian equivalent - “art in public spaces”) has been accumulating importance – on the part of the professional community, mass media and the audience. The project allows studying different interpretations of the notion of public art as a reflection of tendencies within this multifaceted condition. At times an artist is capable of experiencing the specificity of a place more deeply - by construing the local «mythology” and creating images that embody the genius loci and gradually become the true symbols, if not brands, of their territories.

What makes the reclamation of urban and public spaces in Kaliningrad so difficult lies in various historical collisions (the former Koenigsberg) and in the specific character of the territory of the region which profits from its beneficial geopolitical location and the prospects of integrative development. At the same time, what renders this situation contradictory is the fact that being geographically the centre of Europe the Kaliningrad region is the westernmost peripheral Russian exclave. The destruction of the authentic urban structure in WWII, chaotic and often ambitious urban planning of the 2d half of the XXth century, large-scale privatization and commercialization of the 1990s - 2000s and the economic downturn that followed put tremendous impact on the character and quality of public spaces.

Artists will have a choice of two architectural sites to be interpreted which characterize different periods in the history of the city – the Koenigsberg (German) period and the Kaliningrad (Soviet-Russian) period. These are the Kaliningrad zoo and the central train station “Yuzhny”. This choice is conditioned by a multifunctional character and availability of heterogeneous spaces for interpretation in each of the sites (an architectural object, symbolic places, communication space). Working together on one object will help one and the same symbol resonate differently on an artistic scale, compare individual strategies in public art and possibilities of their interpretation.

Ivan Galuzin (Oslo, Norway)
Maria Backman (Stockholm, Sweden)
Yury Vassiliev (Kaliningrad, Russia)
San Donato group (Kaliningrad, Russia)

The project is implemented by the Baltic Branch of NCCA with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Nordic Culture Point.

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