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Guelman gallery nearly kicked out of Moscow’s Winzavod complex

The controversial curator and gallerist may have upset local politicians during election week with his show of historic buildings destroyed by developers

The letter Guelman posted on his blog from Winzavod’s director, Sofia Trotsenko

Marat Guelman, the controversial Russian curator and gallerist, came close to having his gallery kicked out of the Winzavod arts complex in Moscow for political reasons.

Guelman’s gallery is hosting “Archnadzor”, an exhibition that shows the many historic buildings in Moscow that have been destroyed by developers to make space for new real estate projects in the last three years. The show opened just a few days before mayoral elections took place in Moscow and across the country on Sunday 8 September.

Last week, the curator posted on his blog a letter he received from Winzavod’s director, Sofia Trotsenko, telling him that he had three days to vacate the premises. A short time later and for reasons unknown, the curator says, Trotsenko sent Guelman a text message cancelling the order, and the show is going ahead as planned. Sofia Trotsenko is married to the businessman Roman Trotsenko, who founded the Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art in 2007.

Although Trotsenko and the Winzavod press office were unavailable for comment, it is widely believed that they came under pressure from local politicians, who are suspected of being cozy with property developers. (The Kremlin-backed incumbent Sergei Sobyanin won the Moscow mayoral election, reportedly without appearing in any of the debates in which the other five candidates participated.) Our sister paper Le Journal des Arts reports that eight other galleries refused to stage the show before Guelman took it on.

Guelman is no stranger to this kind of incident. He was recently fired as the director of the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art after he refused to censor an exhibition that was critical of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Of the surprise eviciton and reversal, Guelman writes on his blog: “What surprises me most is why rich and successful people let the bureaucrats order them about,” adding, “if you can’t say no to the government, do something else”. Guelman also encourages people to come to the exhibition, saying that “if we save only two buildings thanks to this show, the price paid will not have been high.”

With additional reporting from Alexandra Shestakova

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Comments

13 Sep 13
15:23 CET

KEN MAZZU, HOUSTON

Small world - I am working on a similar series in my city. So far they haven't tried to run me out of town.

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