Vladislav Shapovalov

16.11.2018 — 31.12.2018

AVTO presents Image Diplo­ma­cy, the first show of Vladislav Shapo­val­ov in Turkey. Image Diplo­ma­cy is a research project and a body of work. It is a sur­vey on the cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal her­itage of the 20th cen­tu­ry, focus­ing on the exhi­bi­tion as a medium.

The project was ini­ti­at­ed after the dis­cov­ery of an archive in Italy that con­tains portable pho­to­graph­ic expo­si­tions on the most diverse aspects of life in the Sovi­et Union: from domes­tic and pub­lic life, tech­nol­o­gy and archi­tec­ture, to wom­en’s eman­ci­pa­tion and achieve­ments in space explo­ration. The fold­ers were sent to Europe dur­ing the cul­tur­al Cold War in order to pro­mote the image of a mod­ern, eman­ci­pat­ing, inter­na­tion­al­ist and alter­na­tive project to that of West­ern cap­i­tal­ism. These exhi­bi­tions could be assem­bled autonomous­ly and at low cost by sim­ply fol­low­ing the instruc­tions and tech­ni­cal draw­ings. Thus the idea of a moder­ni­ty with­in anyone’s reach was pro­claimed not only through the repro­ducibil­i­ty of pho­tog­ra­phy and film but also by the dis­play sys­tems, trans­form­ing the exhi­bi­tion into the chrono­tope of polit­i­cal subjectivation.

Shapo­val­ov for­mal­izes a research exhi­bi­tion that traces both opti­cal and cura­to­r­i­al tech­niques employed dur­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal strug­gle between cap­i­tal­ist and social­ist moder­ni­ties through a series of instal­la­tions, pho­tog­ra­phy and crit­i­cal re-enact­ment of exhi­bi­tionary forms. 

Although his­tor­i­cal­ly ground­ed, Shapovalov’s project is con­cerned less with how things actu­al­ly were than with how they appear in ret­ro­spect. The aim is to blast holes in estab­lished inter­pre­ta­tions of the polit­i­cal imag­i­na­tion of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry and free up new lines of sights to allow for crit­i­cal reap­pro­pri­a­tions of its lega­cy, and reflec­tions on the cur­rent state of rela­tion­ships between images, pol­i­tics and society.

Image Diplo­ma­cy  deals with his­to­ry and the mate­ri­als from which it is made. Ded­i­cat­ed to the re-com­po­si­tion of facts and nar­ra­tives con­sid­ered obso­lete or for­got­ten, it rumi­nates on the ques­tion: Why do we look at the past?

The project unfolds with each new iter­a­tion. For the exhi­bi­tion in İst­anb­ul, a new piece was pro­duced by the artist. The new work, enti­tled Polit­i­cal Dreams  doc­u­ments a portable 16mm film pro­jec­tor and a Moon globe sent from the USSR to Italy. The arti­facts of Sovi­et “soft pow­er” aimed to expand the hori­zon of pos­si­bil­i­ties and ren­der the pro­jec­tions of poten­tial as real, be it space trav­el, anoth­er kind of soci­ety or a cin­e­mat­ic utopia of mov­ing images. Placed in a dream­like set­ting, the objects reveal the con­junc­tion of trav­el and vision unique to our time. 

Anoth­er work from the project, the film Image Diplo­ma­cy, will be screened at SALT Bey­oğlu on 19 Decem­ber from 17:00 to 20:00  in an event par­al­lel to the exhi­bi­tion. The film is set inside the archive of Asso­ci­a­tion Italy-Rus­sia in Milan, the Film Archive in Bologna, and at the Cler­vaux Cas­tle in Lux­em­bourg. It com­pares the for­got­ten archival mate­ri­als left behind in Europe from the Sovi­et pho­to­graph­ic exhi­bi­tions and films with the Amer­i­can Fam­i­ly of Man  exhi­bi­tion, on dis­play today at Cler­vaux Cas­tle and includ­ed in the UNESCO Mem­o­ry of the World Reg­is­ter. The film doc­u­ments the com­pe­ti­tion between the Unit­ed States and USSR in the field of “exhi­bi­tion diplo­ma­cy” and gives an insight into the unwrit­ten his­to­ry of social­ist internationalism.