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Kaliningrad

Foreign Territory
Curator: Irina Tchesnokova (National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Kaliningrad)



“Wild West of Russia”, exclave, “foreign territory”, – these strange territory, which appeared due to the triple volition decision made by the USSR after World War II, arouses various associations and allusions. Kaliningrad-Koenigsberg, Russia-Prussia, remote eastern territories of Europe or the very west of Russia… The word ‘exclave’, to which they inured for a long time the population of this “free zone” (derivative from FEZ, ‘free economic zone’), doesn’t characterize its current status and condition in full measure. Till 1990 the territory was closed for foreigners, since 2001 it has been in expectation of cooperation with and joining the EU that does not come true. Not so long time ago one of the Moscow officials during his pre-jubilee visit to Kaliningrad ventured to suppose that this region should be given the status of foreign territory and also did not rule out the possibility of introducing Euro. They had to refute the contention immediately, but the idea had already leaked into public discussions. This story with the Kremlin officials and pre-jubilee stir (in July 2005 the city was actively preparing for celebrating the 750th jubilee of Koenigsberg) again activated the subject matter of the notorious identification of Kaliningrad-Koenigsberg, having imparted a new perspective and direction to it: “new foreign territory”. In real life all the promises of the unlimited freedom turn into more difficulties while crossing the borders – not only Polish and Lithuanian ones (new EU members), but even while traveling from Russia to Russia. “Foreign free territory” is being closed and limited more and more.
A new Kaliningrad cultural and geographical brand, and correspondingly, a local artistic identity, is depicted in the works of contemporary “Russian” artists living “abroad”. They interpret this problem in various ways.

Artists:
Yevgeny Umansky
Yury Vasiliev
Aleksey Chebykin
Yevgeny Palamarchuk
Common Wince Group (Julia Abramova, Aleksandr Lyubin)
Karpenko&Karpenko Group (Anastasia and Ekaterina Karpenko)