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BALAGAN!!! Artist-In-Residence

SASHA PIROGOVA: A Retrospective

Also featuring the BALAGAN!!! Performances,
Symposium and Lecture Videos.

29 January – 21 February 2016

Curated By Rachel Rits-Volloch and Olga Wiedemann


Sasha Pirogova - Webflyer


BALAGAN!!! Artist-in-Residence, Sasha Pirogova’s videos Queue and BIBLIMLEN, awarded with the Innovation Prize in the Category New Generation, were shown in MOMENTUM’s BALAGAN!!! Exhibition (MOMENTUM 14 November – 23 December 2015). MOMENTUM is now proud to present a Retrospective of Pirogova’s young but coherent oeuvre, which evolves from her background in dance and the physics of motion.

Pirogova’s videos show the poetry of movement, a world where bodies speak without words. Interior and exterior spaces trigger these sometimes choreographed, sometimes spontaneous, sequences of dance always linked to spaces and objects. In City Practices the protagonists act on impulses induced by the structure of the Constructivist style House of Culture in Moscow and its refurbishment, setting free new energies in an old, traditional and static space. Her videos interact in a particularly sensitive way to the iconic architecture.

You sleep all night and then you don’t… is set in a kitchen, playing on the possibilities inherent in this domestic scenery. The kitchen, a place of fixed rituals – preparing food, enjoying dinner – a common space, where movements almost act independently. Pirogova and her dance partner, squeezed between kitchen furniture, smoothly glide through the room, creating a wonderfully absurd sequence.

With a keen sense of detecting absurdities in every day life, the artist interweaves the old with the new, history with the present, people’s stories with her own. Static becomes fluid, when The Russian State Library in Moscow is turned from a structured prison into a humorous playground in her award-winning work BIBLIMLEN. Pirogova’s spell unfolds through the narrow corridors and quiet reading halls, enchanting the visitors, the books and the monument itself. The subtle humour of out of dances between bookshelves and sounds interrupting the strict silence – unburden the books of their loneliness.

Having stumbled onto video art through a fascination with the body in motion, Pirogova has within a short period created an inspiring series of works. House 20, Apartment 17 enacts all of Pirogova’s stylistic ingredients – telling stories through the motion of bodies in space. Pirogova’s gift is to bring out the humour in mundane absurdities through the collision of choreography with chance. House 20, Apartment 17 is a former communal apartment turned pop-up art space where Pirogova was invited to a group show. It was also, coincidentally, the former residence of her grandfather. Re-enacting family tales from years ago, his mother putting up the curtains, him playing football, the architecture is again put under a spell, the spell of the past, which breathes life back into these old structures.

Accompanying Sasha Pirogova: A Retrospective, MOMENTUM presents the Videos of Performances, Lectures and the Symposium of BALAGAN!!! Contemporary Art from the Former Soviet Union and Other Mythical Places (Berlin, 13 Nov – 23 Dec 2015).

Sasha Pirogova is a performance and video artist. For her the two disciplines are inter-connected. After graduating from the Physics Department at Moscow State University in 2010, she received a degree in Video and New Media in 2014 from the Rodchenko Art School in Moscow. She has been awarded prizes at the Extra Short Film Festival, ESF (2012) as well as the Innovation Prize in the ‘New Generation’ category (2014). She has participated in various exhibitions, such as BALAGAN!!!, MOMENTUM, Berlin (2015); Burning News, Hayward Gallery, London (2014); I saw lightning, Udarnik, Moscow (2014) and in the Manifesta 10, parallel program, St. Petersburg (2014). Working with performance, she has also participated in different festivals, including: the 6th International Festival of Video, Performance and Technology, Lisbon (2014), VIII Andrei Tarkovsky International Film Festival, Ivanovo (2014), Cinedans Dance on Screen Festival, Amsterdam (2014) and Now & After International Video Art Festival, The State Museum of GULAG, Moscow (2014).




Prinivethao: Space Salutation

Sasha Pirogova & Ma Li

Performance on the Opening night of the Exhibition
Sasha Pirogova: A Retrospective

More Info HERE >>




MOMENTUM Artists-in-Residence Sasha Pirogova and Ma Li draw on their upbringing in the collectivist societies of Russia and China in their interactive performance work. Coming to contemporary art through a background in physics and chemical engineering, respectively, and having both trained in contemporary dance, the choreography of bodies moving through space is integral to their ways of working. Brought together for the first time through MOMENTUM AiR, Sasha Pirogova and Ma Li are here also making their first cooperative project.

Thinking about the macro scale of space and its projection to the micro level of human beings, Ma Li and Sasha Pirogova team up for a “play game” and invite the audience to take part in a ceremony which enacts a supernova explosion triggered by the merging of two white dwarfs. Please join us in imagining a new geographical landscape without borders and separations on the occasion of the opening of the CTM Festival 2016 “New Geographies”.



The starting point for the film was Russian musician Peter Mamonov’s composition “You Sleep All Night and Then You Don’t…”. The filmmaker was curious about providing it with a dialogue expressed in movement, limited by the framework of an everyday-life situation which everyone of us encounters sooner or later because sometimes our body is more eloquent than words.

CITY PRACTICES, 2012, 5’+3′

This set of videos illustrates the exploration of interior and exterior spaces of the great monument of constructivism – ZIL house of culture. The choreography is the result of spontaneous reactions to the particular environment or objects offered by ZIL.

BIBLIMLEN, 2013, 10′

The short film BIBLIMLEN interweaves performance, video, and interaction with the environment. The Russian State Library (formerly Lenin Library) acts as a co-author with its architecture and inner texture creating the characters who communicate with the ambiance and elements of the library structure.

QUEUE, 2014, 10′

This video is based on Vladimir Sorokin’s novel ‘The Queue’ (1983), “a bizarrely funny saga of a quintessential Russian institution, the interminably long line” (NYT, 2011). Creating an absurdist choreography of hysterics, dependence and clanship, Pirogova takes pains to replay the text through dance to identify the queue as not a physical but a contemporary psycho-social condition. [David Elliott]

HOUSE 20, APARTMENT 17, 2014, 9′

During an artists residency at PovArt in summer 2014, Pirogova was provided with the former communal apartment at Povarskaya street, house 20, apartment 17, where later the exhibition would be held. Pirogova writes “When you learn something about a space it comes to be filled with images. And if you know too much, then it is almost impossible to be in it, they follow you. If it was possible to get rid of the past and live only here and now, with each new event erasing the previous one… My grandfather used to live near Arbat street about 20 years before he married my grandmother. Only that summer I asked him about the address. It was Povarskaya street, house 20, apartement 17.


Begun during Pirogova’s artist residency at the Cite des Artes in Paris, the work was completed in Moscow and Leipzig. Pirogova was fascinated to find unreal images in everyday life. Shot in three cities, the film becomes the artist’s investigation into the fine line between the real and the imagined.

Agon Color cor 11

AGON, 2015, 16′

This video was filmed on the production floor of a working brewery. Pirogova transforms this architecture into a stadium, a field for competition, the metaphysical arena where the confrontation of the most influential areas of human activity is held. Competition in this representation is not a process but an end in itself. Despite the fact that each competitor strives to bring on a change in the structure of the “machine”, to undermine the system from the inside, the expected response does not occur and the whole activity is converted into an endless routine. (Yuriy Yurkin)

Also featuring the BALAGAN!!! Performances,
Symposium and Lecture Videos.


, 10′

At Brandenburger Tor Stiftung am Max Liebermann Haus,
13 November 2015

ZIP Group, an artist-collective from Krasnodar, provides the warm-up for BALAGAN!!! with their expert instruction in stretching and strength training routines guaranteed to improve your flexibility and cardio-vascular fitness in protest. Performed in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate for the Opening of the BALAGAN!!! Exhibition.

Under the collective name of ZIP (an acronym that denotes the name of Krasnodar’s main art space, situated in the former premises of a factory manufacturing measuring instruments, Zavod Izmeritelnykh Priborov) the group has created a small autonomous zone of contemporary art in the city. The summer of 2011 saw them found the self-proclaimed Krasnodar Institute of Contemporary Art (KICA), the city’s first independent and experimental art space, and a new intellectual/art milieu for the younger generation has started forming around it. Reversing the party-inspired unanimity of the Soviet avant-garde’s ‘agitational’ propaganda of the 1920s and ‘30s, ZIP have designed an environment that actively encourages dissent. Their Civil Resistance District, comprising B. O. P. s (Booths for One-man Pickets), bunkers, control platforms, ‘plumbic fists’ and information stands, has been deployed in actual demonstrations.


At Kühlhaus Berlin,
13 November 2015

Moscow-based artist and current holder of Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World award, Sasha Frolova kicks off BALAGAN!!! with her renowned Aquaaerobika performance for the opening night of the exhibition. Frolova uses her body to work in different media – sculpture, inflatables, dance, music and performance – in which the different kinds of movement, colour and energy it generates are the dominating elements. A hybrid between the puppet-like figures of Oscar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Triadisches Ballet (1922), whirling dervishes and Lady Gaga on acid, she employs outlandish costumes, electronic music and dance to melt into the abstract forms of her colourful inflatable sculptures and to create a sense of awe and wonder in the viewer – a cyber-beauty of latex, speed and sound. AQUAAEROBIKA, a collective performance project that she both directs and performs, was first presented in Saint Petersburg and Venice in 2013, and has since toured widely.

Frolova graduated in 2002 from the Art School of the Stroganov Moscow Higher College of Art and Industry in Moscow and extended her studies in Graphic Design at the National Institute of Design (2004-08) and on the New Art Strategies (Contemporary Art) course at the Institute of Contemporary Art Problems (2006) under the tutorship of Joseph Backstein. For ten years she was assistant to the eminent performance artist and objectmaker Andrey Bartenev. She was finalist of the Arte Laguna Special Prize for a solo show in Venice in 2013 and took part in the finalists’ group exhibition in the Arsenale where she was awarded a special exhibition prize. She was a finalist of the Kandinsky Prize (Young Artist Project of the Year nomination) in Moscow, 2009. Her solo shows include the Frederica Ghizzoni Gallery, Milan (2014); FRBR, in the parallel programme of the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011); Albinism, Aidan Gallery, Moscow (2010); and Cyber Princess, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2009). She has also presented her work: in London at the Whitechapel Gallery, Riflemaker Gallery, and at the Russian Winter Festival in Trafalgar Square; in Kyiv at Gogolfest; in Hamburg at Kampnagel; and in Moscow at the Shushev State Museum of Architecture and the National Centre of Contemporary Art (NCCA).


At Kühlhaus Berlin,
14 November 2015

Meldibekov’s work has focused on the ‘collapse of culture’ in post-Soviet Central Asia: its political and social disarray, with rival political and commercial ‘tribes’ clashing over distribution of power and wealth. Focusing on political and social change, Meldibekov works across a variety of media that includes installation, sculpture, photography video and performance. Dramatising the absurd paradoxes of the contemporary art world, his performance September – October – November. Asian Prisoner, made specially for BALAGAN!!! reprises an action made in Berlin seventeen years previously. Then, as now, the Kazhak artist is a prisoner, bound by the culture in which he finds himself, a punishing kangue around his neck as an antiquated, stereotypical symbol. Yet he is not alone. Is not the art world itself also a kind of prison?

Meldibekov graduated from the State Institute of Theatre and Fine Arts, Almaty in 1992. He has exhibited internationally with various solo shows, including: Mountains of Revolution, Rossi & Rossi, Hong Kong (2014), The Revolution in the Mountains, Jozsa Gallery, Brussels (2013) and Peak of Lenin, Galleria Nina Lumer, Milan (2013). He has also participated in the Central Asian Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale, (2013), the 1st Kyiv Biennale of Contemporary Art (2012) and Between Heaven and Earth – Contemporary Art from the Centre of Asia, London, Calvert 22 (2011).


At Kühlhaus Berlin,
14 November 2015

Tishkov is widely known for his DABLOIDS, a social and artistic project initiated in the early 1990s directly after the fall of the Soviet Union. These bright red, kidney-shaped creatures, consisting of little heads on large feet, may be understood as emblems of the burden of personal experience, views and prejudices within a transformed ‘democratic’ world. They spawn their own culture with clothes, flags and banners in an ironical artistic representation of symbols and opinions that refer to homeland, nationality and religion. As such, DABLOIDS become child-like, but potentially vicious, expressions of familiar ideologies, languages, histories and social identities. As well as making a special DABLOID installation for BALAGAN!!!, Tishkov revisits both his early medical training and the famous painting. The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632) by Rembrandt in his performance of The Anatomy Lesson of the DABLOID.

Tishkov initially trained as a doctor, graduating in 1979 from the I.M. Sechenov Medical University in Moscow but, from the early 1980s, began to work as an artist, making cartoon-like books and paintings that commented in an absurd way on ideology and social change. Since that time his work has expanded to include installation, video, theatre and performance. His solo shows include The Arctic Diary, Krokin Gallery, Moscow (2011); In Search of the Miraculous (Selected works, 1980-2010), Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2010); Looking Homeward, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2007). His work has also been exhibited in the 11th Krasnoyarsk Biennale (2015), the Moscow Biennale (2009) and the Singapore Biennale (2008) as well as in the museum shows Eye on Europe – 1960 to Now, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006); Berlin – Moscow/ Moscow- Berlin 1950-2000, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2002).

CUBE, 66’ 23”

At Kühlhaus Berlin,
18 November 2015

Kroytor’s work moves between durational performance and the production of drawings and collages. Cube (2015), a new work made specially for BALAGAN!!!, brings all aspects of her work into play. Kroytor confines herself within a life-sized cube, its surfaces covered by paper. Hidden from view, she sketches on the inside of the cube until the surface of the paper is worn away. Once there is room for her to escape, she leaves. The marks of her ‘imprisonment’ remain.

Kroytor attended the Moscow Museum of Modern Art Free Workshops in 2007 and graduated in art from the Moscow State Pedagogical University in 2008, the following year she gained a diploma from the Institute of Contemporary Art. In 2012 she was a Kandinsky Prize nominee in the ‘Young Artist’ category and in 2014 was shortlisted for the Kuryokhin Award the ‘Art in Public Spaces’ category. Her solo shows include Time That Exists, SRC Dawn, Vladivostok (2015), 8 Situations, ArtWin Gallery, Moscow (2015), Extra, Gallery Room, Moscow (2014), ChtoNichto, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011) and Split Personality, Regina Gallery, (2011).

LET’S PLAY, WHY NOT?, 33’ 02”

At Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin,
16 December 2015

Life imposes some rules that occasionally we have to follow. Sometimes unexpectedly they change. Sasha Pirogova investigates the system in which we live in a playful mode, using the rules of Russian outdoor games that are based on active and passive, controlling and resisting roles.

Recently a huge amount of prohibitions were again re-introduced in Russia which influence the private life of a person. Through her staged performances, Sasha Pirogova aims to capture movements and gestures that could disappear forever under these circumstances.

Winner of Moscow’s New Generation Award, Sasha Pirogova is acclaimed for both her videos and performances. An amalgam of two performances premiered during the opening week of BALAGAN!!!, the performance Let’s Play, Why Not? was staged at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart as part of MOMENTUM’s exhibition BALAGAN!!! Contemporary Art from the Former Soviet Union and Other Mythical Places, curated by David Elliott.


The Old Woman Who…? BALAGAN and the Russian/Soviet Avant-Garde 1906-1953
By David Elliott
At Brandenburger Tor Stiftung am Max Liebermann Haus

Trickster Art: Celebrating Chaos, Challenging Misrule
With David Elliott, Preciosa De Joya,
Hillel Schwartz & Hans Scheuer
At ICI Berlin, Institute for Cultural Inquiry

What is to be Undone? Trickery as Political Resistance
With Rosa Barotsi, Katarzyna Kozyra,
Via Lewandowski & Helena Bassil-Morozow
At ICI Berlin, Institute for Cultural Inquiry


The Russians Have a Word For It: BALAGAN and the World Outside

With Kathrin Becker, Ekaterina Degot, Volker Diehl, David Elliott,
Gabriele Knapstein, Bojana Pejić, Asia Żak Persons
At Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin

By David Elliott

By Kathrin Becker


By Bojana Pejić

By Ekaterina Degot

With Bojana Pejić, Katya Degot, Volker Diehl, David Elliott,
Gabriele Knapstein, Asia Żak Persons