The Return of Memory at HOME

HOME has announced its new contemporary group exhibition The Return of Memory part of their major Russian season A Revolution Betrayed?

By Lee Isherwood | 13 July 2017

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HOME is delighted to announce its new contemporary group exhibition The Return of Memory, forming part of its major Russia season A Revolution Betrayed?, inspired by the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. From a short-lived surge of post-revolutionary optimism came tremendous intentions to change the world, an explosion of new aesthetics and a passion for artistic experimentation. A Revolution Betrayed? delves into the history, memory and powerful legacy of the Revolution – from bright new artistic futures, to disillusionment and political disturbance, to the thriving cultural scene that exists in the country today.

In The Return of Memory, curated by Sarah Perks, Artistic Director: Visual Art, HOME and Anya Harrison and Olya Borrissova, founders of The New Social, unofficial histories, suppressed memories and strategies of resistance all converge. The exhibition explores how contemporary artists are responding to the state of the ‘New East’ today. Rather than a nostalgic look at the past, new commissions and existing works re-activate and repurpose key historical and cultural emblems and stories, from the avant-garde and revolution to the collapse of the Communist system and ideology, addressing key questions around the legacy of the Russian Revolution.

Sarah Perks, Artistic Director: Visual Art, HOME, said: “As the world continues to demonstrate new forms of fascism (at worst) and teetering uncertainty around current politics (at best), the centenary of the world’s first socialist revolution (with its direct relation to Manchester and Salford via Marx and Engels) has become perhaps the most defining yet neglected moment(s) of the 20th century. With a contested relationship to all subsequent global politics, now is the time to think about the pre-history and formation of the Russian Revolution, its influences and origins, the events of 1917 and the civil war, the rise of Stalinism, world wars, freeze and thaw, the Cold War, decolonisation of the Soviet Union, the present state of Russia and Putin and perhaps most importantly, debate how the future will play out. The Return of Memory and our new publication Subkultura, plus our entire season of art, film and theatre, provides an innovative way to think about this centenary and formulate responses across artists and audiences together.”

New commissions include Callum Cooper’s large-scale multi-disciplinary project on St Petersburg’s Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry, the world’s first and largest seed bank. Based on the work and discoveries of soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov, who travelled the world to collect as many crop and edible plant varieties as possible to end world hunger, but due to the shift in political values under Stalin was condemned to die of starvation in a Russian prison, Cooper – in collaboration with Hopwood Hall College and Greater Manchester Allotments – will transplant seeds to Manchester where they will be grown in local allotments. To mark the closing of the exhibition in January, award-winning Manchester chef Mary-Ellen McTague will use the produce to create her twist on a Russian soup for a special dinner at HOME to celebrate all of the projects’ participants.

Ruslan Vashkevich’s video installation Victory Over the Sun will reassess the politics of the controversial Futuristic opera first organised by Kazimir Malevich and his fellow avant-garde artists in 1913. Declan Clarke & Sarah Perks investigate who is betrayed by revolution, historical or fictive – a legacy of their 2013 Cornerhouse exhibition Anguish and Enthusiasm: What Do You Do With Your Revolution Once You’ve Got It?.

To coincide with The Return of Memory, HOME, in collaboration with The New Social, will launch its ninth publication, Subkultura by Artemy Troitsky, peeling away the veneer of approved art to reveal a subcultural history of underground movements from 1815 to 2017 – youth movements and subcultures, fashions, protest, and politics. It is in these subterranean cavities that new movements gestate, long before they are planed down, lacquered and packaged, and distributed through official channels.

The Return of Memory will also include a specially curated film season and live performance.