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It Is About Leaving a Mark: A First Look Inside Russia's New Contemporary Art Museum

Say hello to the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
12 May 2015, 2:00pm
Garage Museum in Gorky Park, overview. Image courtesy of OMA, via

One year ago, the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture changed its name to Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, a move signifying its projected longevity as Russia's first archive "related to the development of Russian contemporary art from the 1950s through the present." On June 12th of this year, it opens its first permanent location inside what was originally Moscow's famed 1968 Vremena Goda restaurant, today redesigned by Rem Koolhaas and his OMA studio.

Founded in 2008, the The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has filled many spaces, from it’s original location in the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage (where the “Garage” name originated), to a more temporary space in Gorky Park designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban. Now, one month out from the museum's public opening, a short video narrated by founder, Dasha Zhukova, pays homage to its history and imagines what’s to come. The piece features quotes from famed international artists, including Wassily Kandinsky, Louise Bourgeois, Edvard Munch, and Christian Marclay. It concludes with a quotation by Felix Gonzalez-Torres: “Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that's why I made works of art.”

Each of the selected quotations, Zhukova explains in the video, creates a common ground for both artists and art appreciators alike; that’s one of the museum's goals: to “spark engagement with art and culture” that appeals to “audiences of all ages through pioneering programs for both families and professionals.” In the piece, you can watch moments where visitors interact with artworks and artists, including John Baldessari, Marina Abramovic, and Philippe Parreno, interspersed with views of the museum's various spaces: the galleries, cafe, education center, research archive, and bookstore.

In conjunction with the video, the nascent institution also just announced the list of art world heavy-hitters who now sit on their new International Board of Advisors. Their ranks include Glenn Lowry, Michael Govan, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Zdenka Badovinac, Boris Groys, and Bartomeu Mari, among others.

Not only does the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art feature some of the world's most famous international artists, but it creates strong ties within the local community as well, providing an archive for Russian contemporary artworks created between the 50s and today. Below, you can view past works by the artists Eric Bulatov, Yayoi Kusama, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Julius Koller, and Katharina Grosse who are included in the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art’s opening exhibition and will be presenting interactive installations and works at the museum's new location, as well as images from the museum’s ongoing research project, Field Research: a progress report, and an image of the building that was once known as Vremana Goda:

View of Vremana Goda from Gorky Park / PastVu, via

Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013 by Yayoi Kusama, Courtesy of KUSAMA Enterprise

Untitled 2005 (Tomorrow is Another Fine Day), 2005 by Rirkrit Tiravanija, Courtesy Rirkrit Tiravanija Studio

Inside the Speaker, 2014, by Katharina Grosse, Courtesy Johann König, Berlin

Film still from This Is Cosmos!, 2014 by Anton Vidokle, Courtesy of the artist, part of Field Research: a progress report

Saving Bruce Lee: African and Arab Cinema in the Era of Soviet Cultural Diplomacy. Curators Koyo Kouoh and Rasha Salti during a field research visit at the Eisenstein Film, 2015

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art opens to the public on June 12, 2015. Click here to learn more.

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