White Box New-York December 2015 / January 2016
Recycling Religion examines the role of religion in Russia and Eastern Europe since the collapse of the Soviet empire. Paradoxically in the modern age, the once repressed and dormant Orthodox Church has evolved in the past quarter century to become an intrinsic and powerful extension of the State, commanding broad influence over life beyond its purely spiritual role.
From art and entertainment to dress code, and numerous other aspects of personal behavior, this essentially anachronistic religion insinuates its moralizing, oppressive influence and rancid style into life at large.
In the case of art, the Church goes to extreme lengths to impose and control popular taste, to the inevitable disgust of a new generation of artists—a stellar and representative group of which is represented in this exhibition—who dare to employ Orthodox imagery and symbolism to undermine the established religious canon and the dystopia it fosters in harness with state power.
To such artists, the Church is but a hollow vessel that sustains itself only with elaborate stage sets and costumes, outdated ritual, and severe moralizing. However, it is their contention that while the regurgitated apparatus of the official Church represents a moribund ideology, it serves also as a foil by which art can transcend tradition and discover the new-within-the-old.
This subterfuge is depicted vividly, and in fact compassionately, in this exhibition, in which, through installation, performance, video, and graphic art, the conservative and radical poles of post-Soviet society are shown to in fact interact. As one allegedly spiritual force engages in tearing the world apart while pretending to mend it, another, more pragmatic, biological force appeals to the need to rebuild society out of the ruins of Orthodoxy, thus recycling religion, rather than eradicating it entirely.
Marat Guelman / Juan Puntes.
Recycling Religion Artists
Pussy Riot, Oleg Kulik, Dmitri Gutov, Iija Soskic,Jelena Tomasevic, Recycle Group, Alexander Kosolapov, Duke Riley + Mac Premo, Federico Solmi, Robert Priseman, ANVIL Collective, Electroboutique,Vladimir Kozin, Pavel Brat, Arsen Savadov
Recycling Religion is supported in part by Dukley European Art Community, Martin C. Liu and WhiteBox board members
The programs of WhiteBox are made possible in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council for the Arts
Special thanks to Postmasters Gallery, Richard Taittinger Gallery, and Magnan Metz GallerySpecial thanks to media sponsor artnet