Interview with Marianna Sardarova

RuArts Foundation was established in Moscow in 2003 by Marianna Sardarova, and is engaged in exhibition, publishing and production activities. Its current premises contain a contemporary art gallery, as well as a library and video library. The main goal of RuArts Foundation is to promote contemporary art and to further expand the art market in Russia, by introducing major contemporary art figures and promising young artists to Russian audiences, building contemporary art collections and providing support to street art culture and artists with a street background.
RuArts cooperates with state museums, art centres and other institutions in Russia and abroad arranging exhibitions, auctions, seminars and special events. In addition to its exhibition and educational activities the Foundation also acts as a publisher, producing books, albums
and catalogues.

The Foundation shows works in a very wide range of mediums, which is commendable given that it reflects the current contemporary art world. Do you find that this helps the general art loving public to learn about the visual arts and appreciate them, or does this variety hinder the growth in public awareness particularly among those with more conventional views? Considering education in its widest possible definition, how does the Foundation encourage education, building a new generation of artists and collectors?

The Foundation’s mission is to encourage development of contemporary art in all aspects, from more conventional painting and sculpture to installations, objects, performance and video art. Our aim is to foster the appreciation of contemporary visual art, presenting the most cutting-edge artistic phenomena in Russia. To this end we arrange our educational programs with curators and artists participating in panel discussions, delivering lectures and giving tours around their own exhibitions. I am happy to note that we are popular with schoolchildren and students. Our exhibitions and lectures are always free.

Another direction of the Foundation is publishing. I’d rather refer to it as one of our educational activities. For instance, we are currently preparing for publication the second book of Wall Elements series – a unique pictorial anthology by Alexey Partola dedicated to Russian graffiti and street art culture. It provides a nationwide cross-section, presenting 70 artists living in 17 cities of Russia, from its most westerly to most easterly point – a unique, unparalleled edition.

Besides Russian artists – both new names and those who are well-known and highly awarded – at our exhibition spaces, we also show the works of foreign authors, usually artists of international fame being introduced to the Russian audience for the first time, for example, Spencer Tunick, Kimiko Yoshida, and Erwin Olaf. As to our plans for the near future, we’re going to introduce Shepard Fairey, the international star of street art, at the Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art, and also the prominent Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.

In all, since the establishment of the gallery and the Foundation we have arranged more than a hundred exhibition and educational projects. They increase in number from year to year. We plan to establish a contemporary art museum and carry out a number of international projects, some of them at museums abroad and as a part of the Venice Biennale.

The Foundation has its own grant program. Could you please tell us for whom it is intended? Are there other programs aimed at supporting young artists?

More than 6 years passed since we made a decision to promote street art in Russia. We have presented the Street Wave Art Biennale ‘Artmossphere’, with our support since the day it was born. Within the framework of the Biennale we have founded Russia’s first street art auction and a program providing grants to the artists with a street background. It is designed as an incentive for the artist, which is crucial for the progress of an artist and the art form. As a grant recipient, the artist receives the sign of recognition for his or her work, and it is important and of great relevance for the art process.

Any Russian street artist may apply for the grant. The winner is chosen by the members of the expert board. It comes in a form of a money prize or reimbursement of production costs of a single project. Besides that, the Foundation supports its artists in every way, facilitates their projects, contributes to their work environment and is readily available to help them further their education.

Does the social and political context affect the Foundation’s affairs and Russian art in general?

As a matter of fact, contemporary art reacts sharply to many significant world events, politics in particular. But the Foundation is not really interested in politically charged art. It’s up-to-the-minute and becomes obsolete alongside with the news, as in the modern world the information spreads very quickly. In my opinion, when it comes to art, politics should take the last place. In our projects we aim not to fiddle with such topics. The Foundation pursues different goals: we prefer to deal with eternal themes and reflect upon timeless values.