News — 22 Oct 2020
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is purchasing a number of drawings by two contemporary Russian artists: Yulia Tsvetkova and Anna Tereshkina. Each in their own singular style, the artists document the erosion of human rights in Russia and what goes on behind closed doors in energetic, cartoon-style drawings. Both artists are activists in their work and personal lives, and campaign for the rights of women, the LHBTIQ+ community, and other groups. Both are systematically silenced by the Russian state. These latest purchases express the Stedelijk’s solidarity with these artists and embody the museum’s aim to enrich its collection with socially critical contemporary art.
Yulia Tsvetkova (1993, Komsomolsk-on-Amur) is an artist, activist and until recently artistic director of the activist youth theatre Merak. She has been accused of “producing and distributing pornographic material on the Internet”. These allegations stem from her role as the curator of the feminist body-positivity social media page The Vagina Monologues. The Stedelijk Museum will buy a number of drawings the artist had uploaded to this site and which went viral after she was accused. The Stedelijk is also purchasing several other of her drawings, including a number that Tsvetkova made after her arrest in 2020. These drawings focus on her personal conflict with the Russian government, and on other politically controversial lawsuits in Russia such as those involving Navalny, Set, Novoe Velichie and others.
Anna Tereshkina (1986, Omsk) is an artist, curator, musician, poet and an important figure in the St. Petersburg underground scene. She regularly collaborates with the activist artists collective Chto delat'?. Tereshkina, along with thirty others, was arrested on June 22, 2020, when she staged a peaceful protest in front of the St. Petersburg courthouse. This was the day when Viktor Filinkov and Yulian Boyarshinov, imprisoned by the Russian government on suspicion of organising a terrorist organisation, received their sentences. Tereshkina was detained at the police station for two days and chronicled the experience in the form of quick sketches. The artist often sketches court cases that are intended to scare activists into silence. The Stedelijk bought the series of drawings the artist made about her lawsuit.
Rein Wolfs, director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “The Stedelijk Museum works towards creating an equitable, just society and offers a platform to artists who combine art and activism. The addition of these works to our collection reflects and responds to our changing times. The purchase also foreshadows the Stedelijk’s role as a museum that challenges wider societal issues, and activates our aim of including more work by women artists in our collection. It also adds a new chapter to the Stedelijk’s long history of collecting Russian art. Our collection is internationally known for our strong core of works by Malevich, and the substantial Khardziev loan.”
These acquisitions underline the Stedelijk’s renewed focus on collecting work from Russia and the (former) Soviet Union. In line with this collection strategy, the museum looks forward to acquiring a large donation organised in collaboration with Aspan Gallery in Almaty, Kazakhstan, later this year. This acquisitions policy is supported by Rakurs – a research platform currently under formation that concentrates on the Russian avant-garde and art from the (post) Soviet area. Rakurs is an initiative of the University of Amsterdam, the van Abbemuseum and the Stedelijk.