Moscow University Bans Art Exhibit ‘Because of Luzhkov’

Two Russian artists are saying they’ve been censored by a Moscow university that is refusing to show an exhibit of their work because administrators found two of the pieces questionable, reports.

Viktoria Lomasko and Anton Nikolaev had planned to show their work at the gallery in International University in Moscow. The exhibit, which was to be curated by noted art historian Andrei Yerofeyev, was meant to show graphic representations of controversial topics in Russian society.

But university administrators balked when they saw two pieces that criticized another Moscow university and former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

Nikolaev explained what happened on his blog:

This is the third time already that an exhibit with work by Vika and I has been closed because of censorship.

Twice it was because of our piece “Tagansky Justice,” which spoke the whole truth about how the clergy and Orthodox Christians are fascist assholes. First at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, then at Vinzavod.

In the first instance, we were told that the air conditioners were broken; in the second one, they unexpectedly changed the plan for the exhibit.

The third time they cancelled it because of Luzhkov.

They said directly in the text that it was because of him.

Here’s the story. Yerofeyev asked if Vika would do a personal exhibit in the gallery of International University. Most of the exhibited works were our joint reports on controversial societal topics. At the last moment, International University demanded that we take down two of our reports.

1) About how teachers are being unlawfully fired from the Polygraphic Institute.
2) About unlawful construction in Moscow.

The explanation for the first was that they didn’t want to spoil relations with the administration at Polygraphic (Moscow State University of Printing Arts).

And for the second – that Luzhkov lectures in the university.

Vika and I told them that we refuse to remove the pieces from the exhibit.

A representative from International University told us that, in that case, there won’t be an exhibit.

The offending works can be found here and here.

Nikolaev’s post is dated April 21, but on April 27 he added an update:

According to Andrei Yerofeyev, curator of the banned exhibit, [the artists] would have had to make a compromise with the university administration in order for the exhibit to go on. They were prepared to leave up the drawing about Polygraphic, but they did not agree to leave up the report about how Kadashi was razed that criticizes Luzhkov. Yury Luzhkov holds the post of dean of the Department of City Management.

Luzhkov was given this appointment almost immediately after being fired by President Dmitri Medvedev from his post as mayor. A couple of weeks ago he read a lecture entitled “Socrates was always Socrates,” which television channel REN-TV reported “was reminiscent of the story of Luzhkov’s downfall.” Lomasko used the lecture as the basis for a comic response to the ban of their exhibit (translated by from the original):

Comic. Source: Viktoria Lomasko/ITAR-TASS

Yerofeyev himself has at times been a target of censorship. Last June, Moscow’s Tagansky Court fined him and a fellow colleague a total of $11,400 for putting on the exhibit “Forbidden Art – 2006” at the Andrei Sakharov Museum & Public Center. Their defense filed an appeal but lost in October 2010.