Kolodzei Art Foundation, Inc.



Exhibition at VDNKh, 1975

Selected Photographs

After the Bulldozer show (1974) and the Second Open-Air Exhibition there was much coverage in the Western press, and as a response the Soviet government allowed an exhibition at the VDNkh exhibition grounds which was open to all the artists (as long as they had a Moscow residency permit). In August of 1975 several artists approached my mother, Tatiana Kolodzei, and Leonid Talochkin to help in the organization of an exhibition and work with an installation at the VDNKh, dedicated to the anniversary of the Bulldozer exhibition. On August 29th, 1975 the permit from Central Administrative Board of Culture of the Executive Committee of the Moscow Council was issued, allowing an exhibition from September 20 to September 30, 1975. Originally, the only condition was that artists could not violate the Criminal Code of Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic regarding insults to the symbols of the Soviet state (the coat of arms and the flag, or to national heroes), and the prohibition against pornography. A total of 146 artists, working in various media, participated and more than 500 works were showcased. The administration created intolerable conditions for organizers and participants of the exhibition. While delivering the artworks artists experienced hours of delays because the authorities demanded that participants show their Moscow residence permit before being allowed entry. Each badge was numbered and had to be signed by a senior police officer. The administration delayed distributing admission badges; eventually my mother received the badge with number «№1». During the installation, all the windows of the recreation center where the works were to be displayed were tightly closed, even though it was very hot outside. Artists and workers who left for their lunch break had long delays to get back into the exhibition. The same policy applied during the exhibition, the participants had constant problems in getting in and out of the show, and the number of complimentary tickets was less than promised. On the evening before the opening the censorship commission of the State Department of Culture, without any explanation, removed 38 works from the show. In protest all of the artists removed all of their works. The exhibition opened and then immediately closed, and the artists who gathered around the exhibition were surrounded by police mounted on horses. After several hours of debate a compromise between the artists and authorities was reached, which allowed for the removal of 16 works. On September 21st, the exhibition finally opened to the public. Many prepared, physically, for a struggle with the authorities by dressing in densely fitting knitted suits and identical footwear each day till the end of the exhibition. The peak of controversy was the work Hippie Flag by the art group "Hair" and the installation Hatch Out Eggs! by Roshal-Skersis-Donskoi (later known as “Nest” group). Despite the fact that, at the request of fire fighters, the nest from green willow branches had been impregnated and almost floated in anti-fire structure, the installation part was thrown out by "firemen" because of its supposed inflammability. The censored works were confiscated for the duration of the exhibition and returned only after the exhibition was dismantled. Despite there being no public announcement and lasting for less than two weeks, there were long lines of people wanting a glimpse of non-official art.

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