2014, installation, mixed media, dimensions variable

At the exhibition: “Tales of 2 Cities”
curated by Simon Mraz, Astrid Peterle and Natalia Petrova

a collaboration of the Jewish Museum Vienna,
the “Memorial” Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Society and
the Austrian Cultural Forum

Exhibiting artists: Olga Jitlina, Zenita Komad, Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair,
Haim Sokol, Hans Weigand und Alisa Yoffe

September 16 – Oktober 5, 2014
Moscow Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Gogolevsky Boulevard 10

The story/stories of objects
A conversation with Astrid Peterle

Press release:

Human Rights Society “Memorial” in Moscow and Jewish Museum Vienna have a significant collection of artefacts that represent important historical documents. Lots of them are related to repressions and society marginalization and have often a personal character as they are connected to destinies of particular people. However, a visitor will not observe any original items or artefacts; the latter served only as a basis for creating new pieces of art. As a result six artists from Russia and Austria will present their works in Moscow and Vienna.

The concept of the exhibition is built on a “confrotation” of two cities (Vienna is represented by Zenita Komad, Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair, Hans Weigand, Moscow - Olga Jitlina, Haim Sokol, Alisa Yoffe). This “confrotation” inspired the artists to create their own works of art that on one side reflect the past and stories of these museum artefacts, on the other side develop their own new stories. As a result of this past and present collision the art is born. The central point of the project is “memorabilia” – historical items that belong to different people and eras. They represent remarkable exhibits – donations, gifts, inheritance which origin is as astonishing as they themselves. Their specific is also emphasized by the fact that most of them wouldn’t represent any significant historical value on a first glance and could be easily left without any attention. The meaning of these objects lie primarily in the stories related to them. A surface examination of a particular object is not enough for understanding whether it belongs to Vienna or Moscow history, only a closer look at it will open up a curtain to the tales of two cities…

About the Object: Embroidery from Irina Ugrimova´s Collection in Memorial
Memorial Society museum Collection
КП 1884, 15×22 cm

The person who did this embroidery is unknown but it was certainly done in the special-regime labor camp in Inta in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Irina Nikolayevna Ugrimova was born in 1903. She studied drawing and painting with one of the most famous Russian painters of the time, Fyodor Rerberg, and with Konstantion Juon. In 1925, after being denied the right to enter Vkhutemas (Higher Art and Technical Studios), she went abroad to study. Ugrimova trained as an artist in Berlin and worked at Paris, where she was a member of the French Resistance. In 1948 she and her family moved back to the USSR. Shortly afterwards they were arrested. Ugrimova was charged with
involvement in counter-revolutionary activities. She was released and rehabilitated in 1954 and worked as an artist at the Moscow Operetta Theatre. She died in 1994. While at Inta, Ugrimova began to collect embroidery, hand-painted postcards, and other objects crafted by the prisoners, and gave art lessons to her fellow inmates. Ugrimova´s collection continued to grow after she was released.

About “Legato” by Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair

At first glance this looks like an everyday scene, the view from a window
a peaceful, practically symmetrical picture, without apparent breaks or compositional tensions, almost archetypical. But is the picture really so obvious? It quickly becomes apparent that it is not just any country scene. It it the view from a barrack window of everyday camp life, a view looking into the distance, blocked by fences and bars.

To reflect the thoughts of an unknown inmate, Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair uses the strategy of appropriation. She enlarges the motifs and repeats them until they have been internalized. But although the artist keeps strictly to the model, each of the sheets is slightly different. The same thing becomes individual, like the days that are indistinguishable and yet different. Beyond the imaginary reminiscence, Shapiro-Obermair seeks the artistic qualities inherent in the three embroideries. In the coincidental subject she discovers a homage to Modernism.