Russian fine arts have always adhered to figurative ways of representation, regardless of the realistic or conceptual nature of the works. This way, it links up with the rich heritage of Russian literature, among others. This tradition lives on hitherto, even though its main focus has shifted: it now turns its attention to contemporary Russia's restless daily life.
Victoria Lomasko graduated from the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, where she majored in graphic art and book design. She draws on Russian traditions of reportage drawing (as practised during the Siege of Leningrad, in the Gulag, and within the military), and has lectured and written about graphic reportage. In her graphic reportage work, Lomasko explores current Russian society, especially the inner workings of the country’s diverse communities and groups, such as Russian Orthodox believers, LGBT activists, underage prostitutes, migrant workers, and collective farm workers.
The current exhibition presents a selection from Viktoria's graphic works for her next book Other Russias. This publication is a collection of socially conscious graphic reportages created during the last ten years. Other Russias puts together the country’s unofficial portrait using the reportages as mosaic stories.
The three sections of the book – Angry, Forbidden, Invisible – repeat in the layout of the exhibition. The first chapter includes “A Chronicle of Resistance” and “The Khimki Trucker's camp”, where Viktoria presents the documentation of the large opposition movement’s demonstration from the year 2012 and the civil protest movement of “unwanted” people from the years 2015-2016. Next to them are “Side by Side Homosexuals and Homophobes” – the graphic series that focuses on LGBT community persecuted in Russia. The “Black Portraits” series and the “Slaves of Moscow” reportage are the stories of “common” people in dramatic situations.
Each of the depicted moments represents the story of various characters, it is the protest of individuals, while politics only play a secondary role. What is fundamental is this struggle for one's right to express oneself – to be a free human being.
The way to present graphic work is very much eclectic – it seizes different techniques, mixes originals and prints, does not try to maintain any order. Content is supposed to determine form – it strives to draw the spectator closer to activist processes which erupt spontaneously and independently from each other. Similarly, it builds upon a Russian tradition of exhibitions, i.e. so-called poor exhibitions, which represent the antipole of commercial exhibitions for a chosen public. The effort is to conduct a dialogue between characters on the images and other people who are not indifferent.
Translator of the exhibition : Thomas Campbell
Curator : Sofia Tocar