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Zoltan Bela. Before the Storm. 2011. Galerija Anca Poterasu (Bucharest, Romania)

The Tongue and Other Organs

After having taken a good look at Art Moscow 2011's offerings, the impressions of the Fair as a whole could be best represented by a single testament: a sculpture of a two meter-high tongue. It was direct, brutal and over-the-top (just enough to make all indications leading to the author himself completely forgotten, leaving only the strong impression of an image). But a tongue also senses taste, and the taste here was actually quite good. Anatomy has always been a generous source for works of art whose goal is to immediately catch the eye. Among other forms of expression, viewers were faced with the aforementioned brains, the gigantic tongue, and a scattering of individual works depicting genitalia, numbering close to ten; and of course, there were embryos. (Whereas at the concurrent Biennial, there was only a whisper of speculation as to the possibly obscured depiction of a penis.) Alongside the slew of examples of contemporary art with more diverse stories, as a whole, the works on display constituted a full-blooded assemblage that managed to avoid being a simply overt way to catch the attention of prospective buyers. It was like a rich hors d'oeuvre with caviar – caviar always seems to balance on the edge of being either disgusting fish eggs popping between your teeth or a delicacy one could die for. Art Moscow 2011 was a similar paradox.

What was missing was an escalation in the architecture of the exhibition. This year, all of the galleries were assigned equal space. On the one hand, that's only fair. On the other hand, it was a tad boring. Wandering along the labyrinth of stands, a powerful rift that would cut away the monotony, like a two- or even three-times larger stand, was lacking. Space, of course, is a rather insignificant aspect that could easily be overlooked as being labeled a fault, if only some of the strongest gallery expositions with their exuberant energy hadn't appeared as if they were hindered and boxed-in by the narrow walls, even attempting to break out of them.


An example of the constrictions mentioned above was the Triumf gallery from Moscow, which had displayed large-format photographs from AES +F's latest video work, Allegoria Sacra, Angels and Demons, in their stand. (The video itself was screened at the Moscow Multimedia Museum, not at the Fair). And the Helsinki gallery, Forsblom, had so many valuable works of art that they overwhelmed each other, leaving the viewer in a bewildered state. >>