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A New Garage for the Seasons of the Year

June 11th, 2015 by Willem Jan Renders

A recent discussion on the function and structure of the ‘read and share’ department of our website made me think about the kitchen blogs I wrote so far. Although I am still not convinced that the ‘format’ for these blogs is the one that I would like to develop – the blogs about my Russian adventures are a bit like ‘Tintin in the Land of the Soviets’ in more than one respect – I could not resist the temptation to write one more. I have met several people who encouraged me to do so, but a critical opinion on my writings is harder to find. Anyway, now I have some readers in mind and that helps me to start. There we go.

I had to be in Moscow anyway to further discuss our ‘Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich project’ (see: synopsis lowres) with ROSIZO and the State Tretyakov Gallery and I also had an invitation to give a lecture in Moscow this week, so when I found the special card for the private opening of the new Garage building in my post, it was not difficult to combine things. There are many, many openings of art exhibitions and I am one of the persons who receives lots of invitations, but I am not so spoiled that an invitation from Dasha Zukhova specially delivered by FedEx gets lost in the pile.

Dasha makes me an offer I cannot refuse…

 

It’s obvious that you don’t go to the opening of a new museum building to see the architecture or the art presented in it. Openings are crowded social events and people go there to see other people. That’s why I avoid them more and more. A quiet Tuesday morning is the perfect museum time for me. But tonight I will jump into this crowd of the international flying circus out of pure curiosity. Shuttles will take us from the Ritz Carlton to Gorky Park, where the red carpet shows clearly that it is not easy to enter this event. In fact I wonder how my invitation will get me in.

My hotel is in the area behind the Bolshoi Theatre and far too luxurious for an ordinary curator of the Van Abbemuseum. It’s a good thing I was invited to give a lecture. This is an area like Fifth Avenue or other rich parts of any of the world’s metropolises. Here in Moscow we have the Kremlin, the Duma, the Opera and other theatres, the most expensive shops, restaurants and nightclubs and of course the famous Russian bath all in one square kilometre. The big 18th and 19th century buildings are too expensive to house an ordinary supermarket. Gucci, Armani, Prada and many more compete for the favours of the happy few. I see one pair of shoes exclusively arranged behind a large window. No doubt someone’s wife will buy these.

Walking in the sun (to find a supermarket to buy some cheaper bottles of mineral water than in my hotel) I hear a soprano rehearsing and a few blocks further a cellist is trying the most difficult part of his score over and over behind an open window on the first floor. Here you wouldn’t say that the standard of living is aspoor as my Russian friends assure me it is. The cars are almost all chauffeured, big and shiny black, (strangely enough almost all are black and some white or silver) ranging from expensive to more and even more expensive. We can see the chauffeur, but the blinded car windows hide the rich and (in)famous from public view. Around noon some of these huge black cars are escorted at high speed by police cars with loud sirens through the ever-busy traffic. A powerful man (surely not a woman) apparently has to be in time for lunch.

My talks with the director of the State Tretyakov Gallery today went OK as did my talks with the director of ROSIZO yesterday. My dear colleague Tatiana Goriatcheva takes me to the new Tretyakov Gallery on Krimsky Val in her car afterwards to discuss further possible loans and the concept for a new project. We exchange a lot of information in a few hours and I take home many notes and photos to go through later. Walking to the metro station I ask myself once more where all the money for this exhibition can be found. The insurances for the artworks are huge and transport costs are quite substantial too. But walking the entrance of Gorky Park and looking at the absurd the red carpet for the opening tonight I suddenly realize that you can only do such a project step by step.

The main entrance of Gorky Park…

 

but not so easy to enter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I only have a few moments to refresh and change clothes in my hotel and then it’s time to party. I for once do not forget my camera and put some business cards in my pocket to give to the yet unknown sponsors I look forward to meet tonight. The shuttle bus takes me and a few other guests on a long trip through the evening traffic jam, twice the time it would have taken me to go by metro.

A new Kunsthal Rotterdam?

 

Again in Gorky Park I walk in the evening sun toward the new creation of Rem Koolhaas, a museum built over the ruins of the famous Vremena Goda (Seasons of the Year), a Soviet Modernist restaurant built in 1968. From the outside the building looks like the place where I worked twenty years ago: the Kunsthal Rotterdam, also by our great architect. Admittedly he did a little stretching and morphing but he cannot fool me. I am an expert user of a genuine Koolhaas exhibition building. For five years I have worked in the Kunsthal Rotterdam. I’ve seen people desperately seeking the entrance and exit of that building. Others fell from the steep stairs and I thought they would never get up again. My present colleagues there are still struggling to fit their exhibitions in this masterly creation of architecture.

 

From the outside the new Garage has the same skin deep beauty as the Rotterdam Kunsthal had 25 years ago. The building looks great on photos, especially in this late sunlight with the guests gathering for this obviously not so very private opening. The men from the big black blinded cars have collected their women in colorful dresses and together they are immortalized by professional photographers against a white background with black Garage logos.

Against logos

 

Enter the new Koolhaas monument!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People that are not on the list are trying to get in, but the delicate and beautiful girls in black dresses that are checking the names of the guests on their tablets can say “no” with an elegant smile because they are backed up by huge muscular men, of course also in black, but with a little white earplug enabling them to hear the instructions of the supreme security commander that no one has ever seen. A wonder! My name is on the list, so I get a black plastic wristband with a white Garage logo on it. Now I am really one of the incrowd.

Et in Arcadia ego…

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