Show of 'unofficial' Soviet art opens Sunday

May 16, 1991

The work of 45 artists from the Soviet Union will be displayed in "Photo Manifesto: Contemporary Photography in the U.S.S.R," the first international exhibition mounted by the Museum for Contemporary Arts. The exhibit will run Sunday through June 21 in the former Greyhound Service Terminal, a vacated art moderne bus garage at Park and Centre streets.

All of the pieces in "Photo Manifesto" -- only a few of which have been shown outside the Soviet Union -- were created during the past two years, a period of great change in the U.S.S.R. The subject matter ranges from portraits and scenes of daily life to philosophical inquiries. Some photographs have gone through coloration while others manipulate images with double exposures or alterations of the negatives. Some artists combine antique and contemporary photographs in a single image.

Before Perestroika, the public was not permitted to see "unofficial" Soviet art. Recently however, artists have begun to display such art in such spaces as disused warehouses and industrial sites. The MCFA is attempting to re-create the flavor of these environments by mounting "Photo Manifesto" in the former bus terminal.

The Museum for Contemporary Arts operates as a "museum without walls," basing its exhibitions and programs in contemporary spaces. Its last visual arts exhibition, a national show concerned with the subject of AIDS, was mounted in the former Famous Ballroom on Charles Street. The museum works with developers and city officials to find such untraditional sites in neighborhoods that have not received much exposure to contemporary art forms.

This show is curated by the museum's director George Ciscle and by the curatorial team of Joseph Walker, Chris Ursitti and Paul McGinniss who hold a long-time interest in Soviet-American cultural exchanges. The museum will also host special public programs in conjunction with "Photo Manifesto":

* A free panel discussion to consider the context of Soviet photography is scheduled for May 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Baltimore School for the Arts, 712 Cathedral St. Participants include art historian Irina Racheyeva and photographer Valery Stigneev; Grant Kester, critic and editor of "After Image," and Joseph Walker, one of the curators of the show. The moderator is scholar Milena Kalinovska, co-author of "Art Into Life: Russian Constructivism 1914-1932."

* Art historian Irina Racheyeva and photographer Valery Stigneev are scheduled to give talks May 25 at 1 and 3 p.m. in the exhibition space.

* A free program for children aged 6-12 is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. June 2 in the exhibition space. It includes a gallery talk, an arts activity using Polaroid photographs and a session of Russian music and storytelling. Reservations are required. Details: 462-3515.

* "Red Fish in America: New Independent Film and Video in the Soviet Union" is scheduled for June 13 8 p.m. in the Mount Royal Station Auditorium of the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Tickets are $5.

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