Russia presents at the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale of Art a total artwork entitled Theatrum Orbis.
Curated by Semyon Mikhailovsky, the exhibition is a disquieting, yet intriguing voyage across contemporary Russia’s icons, fears, metaphors, and obsessions.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from that of an atlas published in 1570 by Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World), and considered the first modern atlas ever made.
In a dim-lighted space, the exhibition features artworks by four Russian artists.
On the entrance level, the pavilion presents Scene Change which comprises various sculptures by Grisha Bruskin(b. 1945); a two-headed eagle, strange dolls, little marching men, soldiers, mysterious androids half human and half mechanical, miniature zigurrats, and communist symbols are coupled with magic-lantern-like video projections, and sound to create an estranging installation focused on the concepts of power, fear, and control of the masses.
Descending to the lower level, the pavilion contains a sculptural installation by Recycle Group (Andrei Blokhin, born 1987, and Georgy Kuznetsov, born 1985). Entitled Blocked Content, the work is composed of sharp-cornered volumes from which faces, hands, and body parts dramatically emerge (or are imprisoned into) and by a virtual reality mobile app Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, the installation questions the concept of web ethics, the morality of artificial intelligence, and the illusion of a digital immortality.