You are currently viewing Unnameable

23 September 2021 – 20 February 2022


Level 1

This exhibition project is dedicated to the most remarkable and significant pieces by the artists whose life and art makes a significant part in the history of Russian art starting from the 1920s to our time. It’s necessary to note that the subject of the exhibition and its individuality were shaped in the process of a dialogue with the artistic community of Nizhny Novgorod. The city itself, with a history and special atmosphere of its own directed us to the meditation about the connection between the Museum’s collection and the context of the place.

The authors of the pieces presented in the exhibition are Nikita Alekseyev, Victor Alimpiyev, Eugene Antufyev, Tatiana Akhmetgaliyeva, Oleg Vasilyev, Cyril Garshin, the Blue Soup Group, Alexandra Dementyeva, Ania Zholud’, Konstantin Zvezdochotov, Yuri Zolotnikov, Ilya Kabakov, Irina Korina, Andrei Kuz’kin, Oleg Kulik, Taus Makhacheva, Andrei Monastyrski, Irina Nakhova, Yuri Nolev-Sobolev, Pavel Pepperstein, Victor Pivovarov, Dmitry Prigov, Alexander Rodchenko, Eugene Rukhin, Aydan Salakhova, Leonid Sokov, Leonid Tskhe, Olga Chernyshova, Ivan Chuykov, Sergei Sharshun, Mikhail Schwartzman, Eugene Yufit, and Vladimir Yankilevski. The artists from Nizhny Novgorod Anon Morokov, Andrei Olenev, Ivan Sery, Yakov Khorev, Vladimir Chernyshov, and Your Mum’s Knight took part in the project.

The happenings and occurrences of today are often hard to give a name to. While we are trying to find a word for them, their true names become evasive and slip away from us. While contemplating on the subject, the curators came up with the idea of the notion of Unnameable.

The presence of this notion can be felt at any period of history in all kinds of discourse or discipline: art, philosophy, music, drama, cinematography, psychoanalysis, mathematics, and literature. Addressing the subject of art, we see that artists may be the ones who get closest to the abode of Unnameable as of something that permanently manifests itself at the border between visible and implied, history and memory, or birth and death. This exhibition is all about manifestations and traces of this phenomenon.

The exhibition is broken into three blocks each with its dedicated hall: Archaeology of Unnameable, Quicksand Space, and Action/Immobility. Through the art pieces the curators are looking at different aspects of Unnameable: the moment of its inception in the phenomenal and notional form, the types of its embodiment, places of residence, and practices through which different creators are addressing it. Doing their research in the border territory, artists tune in to a diversity of voices and points of tension giving them an opportunity to be heard and felt.

The project we are presenting now in the Arsenal deals with the unnameable that we feel today in so acute a way, of something that worries us and makes us uneasy by its being unfathomable. Such incertitude may provoke incomprehension and rejection or even fear and consternation. Asking questions regarding the nature of Unnameable, and its reason for existence and part played in the present time, the curators are tracking down its presence in the 20th and 21st centuries’ key pieces of art of the from the collection of the ММОМА.