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  • Sergey Kiryuschenko

M-21: on the creation of the 21st century art museum in Minsk

Exactly 10 years ago March 11, 2013 on the portal the call of the artist was published about how to create a truly modern art museum in Minsk. This text inspired the creation of our platform . In honor of the launch of the magazine on our portal, we publish this text.

Time for bullets to strum along the wall of museums

V. Mayakovsky

When you remember the expositions of "modern" art in Minsk and in Belarus in general, as well as the art collections replenished annually, you involuntarily recall Mayakovsky and the futurists, who really wanted to destroy museums. You can scoff as much as you like about Minsk or exhibitions of post-war art in – nothing will be added from this irony, there will be no expositions in the city museum, the concept of the exposition in the National will not change. And if we take the phrase “creating a museum is a way of creating reality” seriously, then we should already now, without waiting for a more favorable situation, start discussing the idea of creating M-21 (Museum of Contemporary Art of the 21st century) by the art community itself.

Recently there have been statements, both official and unofficial, from major Belarusian businessmen that they are trying to create museums of their private collections. This has been stated many times (), who collected a large collection of the Parisian school, immigrants from Belarus. According to unofficial information, Mr. (Zubr Capital). That is, people have invested money and want the public to appreciate the art they have collected and, of course, the effort they have spent on it.

In this text, I do not want to evaluate either the first or the second collection. However, it is very pleasing that people have a desire to collect and show art that is not represented in the expositions of Belarusian museums. But when collections are based on the personal tastes of people who invest their money, then, of course, there are problems of high-quality coverage of the period to which this or that collection is dedicated. And, of course, this primarily concerns the Belarusian collector. I well remember the old story of a Moscow art critic about how various sections of the Ludwig collection were formed (the main museum is in Cologne), which, in general, is far from perfect, but continues to develop to this day, despite the death of the owner himself. In each country, Ludwig always hired experts and experts in the areas that interested him. Other major German collectors and collectors did the same. On the other hand, the well-known Moscow collector Costakis, relying only on his own experience, collected a significant collection of Russian avant-garde, but at the same time he was mistaken in assessing the artists of the 60–80s. XX century. That is, the quality of the collection, especially contemporary art, can be completely different. But nevertheless, I believe that the more museums and collections there are, the wider the field of art will be represented and more works will be preserved.

Like any artistic movement, contemporary art wants and must have its own history, and not just a history in documents and memoirs - it must be presented in a permanent museum space.

A full-fledged analysis of what is happening in art today is possible only if there is a constant, ever-evolving exposition, which will present the whole variety of trends in contemporary art. Of course, it can be difficult to objectively assess the significance of a particular work; it should take from 10 to 50 years. However, in order to evaluate something in 10 years, it needs to be collected now. Perhaps at first it will be a virtual museum. You can also start with an extensive catalog of contemporary Belarusian art of the late 20th – early 21st century (he has already done a lot for this ). But the more serious task of creating a real museum should now be set.

Oddly enough, it is easier for contemporaries to appreciate the significance of all aspects of the new museum, the exhibition as a single organism, imbued with a clear intention of the curator than a specific artist or a specific work. In a good exhibition, it is easy enough to understand what new she has brought to the current artistic process. For the new museum, it is absolutely necessary to collect, in addition to concrete works, also materials on the most interesting exhibitions. Only in this way will we be able to understand at what stage of development we are, and at least to some extent evaluate what is happening in art at the moment.

With the current attitude of the authorities to art, it is not necessary to wait for the emergence of real institutions that meet international standards that will collect, record, describe and study contemporary art – that real artistic process that is taking place today and shaping the reality of artistic life – is not necessary.

Therefore, I want to put forward the following proposal for discussion by the artistic community: we must begin to form an art collection ourselves, as the basis for the future real museum of contemporary art – M-21 (similar to K-21 in Düsseldorf).

If the points:

1) To start this difficult work, you need to appoint a coordinator (1–2 people) and choose, by voting, the council of the future museum (3–5 people). These should be people who follow the global artistic process. It is possible that once every five years the council should be partially or completely re-elected.

2) Once or twice a year, the coordinators and the council will consider the exhibitions that have taken place during this time, and select works, invite artists to send materials about the most interesting projects. Exhibitions with the participation of Belarusian artists, regardless of their place of residence, held both in Belarus and abroad, are subject to consideration.

3) Since the idea itself and the advice of the future museum at this stage are not burdened with any money, and the future museum is still in a metaphysical space and does not have the opportunity to preserve the selected works, the concern for the preservation of these works lies with the artists themselves, who agree with such a gratuitous, virtual transfer of their work or project to the collection of the future museum at this stage. In a word, until the opening of a real museum, the work is kept by the artist. At the same time, the artist who agreed to transfer the work to the collection, after that, has no right to sell or transfer it to other museums or individuals (he can sell / transfer only a copy of the selected work, but he will have to inform the coordinator about this). Naturally, this does not apply to digital art. It all depends on the ethical principles of the artist.

Also, I repeat, it is absolutely necessary to collect materials about the most important exhibitions, sketches of some unrealized works, installations, as well as audio and video interviews, video portraits of artists and artists, recordings of actions, performances, etc.

Gradually bringing these ideas to life, we will finally be able to present an objective picture of the contemporary artistic process. Many people are concerned about the idea of creating a virtual museum, but this virtual museum is just a preamble to a real museum of the 21st century (do not forget, for example, about the project ). It is quite possible that over time there will be people who will be interested in this project, and their material participation will help to implement it. There will be a room, employees and employees – and all this will become a reality. But you can wait a long time, and at this time no one fixes the artistic processes, the works disappear. Expectation must be backed up by some kind of action, even actions with an admixture of romanticism. For some reason it seems to me that serious projects begin with a romantic idea.


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    Sergey Kiryushchenko, "M-21: on the creation of an art museum of the 21st century in Minsk", Art Aktivist, March 11, 2023


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