Perm Museum of Contemporary Art. Perm, River Station Hall
The New Testament Project RUSSIAN POVERA Contacts По-Русски

Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva

February 27 - April 26, 2009


Press Release

On February 26, 2009, Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva's exhibition The New Testament Project will open in Perm's River Station Hall. The show presents works based on contemporary photographs culled from news agencies and the Internet. New meanings are given to the reportage images by quotations from the New Testament; they become part of the works and make current and relevant a two thousand year old text.

The New Testament Project, whose earliest works were first created in 1993 году, contemplates both the Biblical text and the contradictory nature of the modern world pierced through by the parallel reality of mass media. The artists characterize their images as "modern-day frescoes that one can roll up in a tube," and call the genre in which they work "media monumentalism."

The New Testament Project was first presented in 2008 as part of the non-commercial exhibition program at the ArtMoscow '08 art fair, but the full version of the project will be shown for the first time in the enormous space of the River Station Hall. More than fifty works take up the first floor of the building, while on the second floor the viewer finds the contents of the artists' studio: print works, studies, sketches for their works. In this way, Vrubel and Timofeeva, who focus their attention on the problematic of the original and multiple copies, as well as the digital format and handicraft, reveal their creative approach.

The artistic duo of Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva formed in 1995. Their first joint exhibition was called The Home Album. Since then, the artists have created more than twenty projects together, among which are the calendar The Artist's Diary, The President's Twelve Moods, the G.U.M. Project (Central Universal Museum), a series of Portrait of the Epoch exhibitions, the exhibition 2007, and others.

Vrubel and Timofeeva have been using their primary technique, a kind of photorealism modified through the use of contemporary technologies, for over twenty years. Back in 1990, Brotherly Kiss, the mural Vrubel executed on the Berlin Wall, became one of the symbols not only of Berlin, but of a new era, as well.

The initiative for creating a Museum of Contemporary Art in Perm's River Station Hall came in 2008 from senator Sergey Gordeev. The venue's first project was the exhibition Russian Povera, which not only won over the respect of Perm region residents, but also found international fame. Before our eyes, the idea of a Perm Museum of Contemporary Art is becoming a reality; proof of that is the second exhibition at the River Station Hall, which is also the largest project by a single artist or artist group to be shown in the region.

Boris Groys

For a reasonably long period of time, the main activity of artists was the illustration of the Scripture. Medieval illuminated manuscripts to this day delight us with the artistic perfection with which the illustrations of the Old and New Testament were executed. In the Modern era, art expressed the wish to become autonomous and began the struggle with illustrative tendencies. The question as to how successful this struggle has been is a difficult one to answer. At any rate, one can only welcome the noticeable revival of the illustrative drive in contemporary art. An excellent example of the latter is Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva's series of illustrations to the New Testament.

Obviously, artists working in our own time use an illustration technique different from the one practiced by medieval masters. This, of course, is the technique of the ready-made. Precision in drawing is replaced here with precision in the choice of illustrative material. In order to illustrate the texts of the Gospel, Vrubel and Timofeeva use visual material supplied by the international news agencies, specifically Reuters, to the contemporary mass media. This decision is quite justifiable since the word "Gospel" (analogous to the Greek "euangelion") literally means "good news." In this sense, one might consider the Gospel as the prototype for modern media; the Gospel was the press and the TV of its time - the means of distribution for messages about sensational events happening in the Palestine of that moment. It is with the Gospel that everything which also characterizes the culture of our time begins: the cult of the new; the demand to follow the news so as not to miss the omens and portents of things to come; the call to dispense with the old and follow the spirit of the times; the rule of fashion and design; globalization; the orientation towards media stars in the persons of the apostles and martyrs, who suffered in the arenas so graciously provided by the Romans for the occasion; etc.

But the main news that the Gospel delivered to the world and which gave birth to modern means of mass communication was about the nature of news itself. To wit, it's news about the fact that only bad news is good news. Indeed, the Gospels, being the "good news," do not tell the reader anything good. God is dead, his apostles are martyred, the general picture of the world is not just sad, but absolutely awful, pre-apocalyptic. Where does the evangelical optimism come from, then? One cannot help but think that it references not to the content of the news, but the simple fact of its existence, that it is news and that this news is new. The evangelical "good news" consists of the fact that even the awful new is better than the familiar old - simply because this newness is new.

Today, we live in the world which once believed this news and believes in it to this day. The works of Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva illustrate beautifully this structure of modern faith. The illustrations that they use register for the most part dark, horrible, or, at the very least, unhappy facts of reality. And yet at the same time, the work as a whole has an air of truly evangelical optimism about it. The bad, when it becomes news, becomes good. On this paradox of faith - faith in the Gospel and faith in modern media - all of modern conscience is based. Vrubel and Timofeeva's work brings this paradox of modern faith out with great precision. And in general, Vrubel and Timofeeva belong to those artists who can, as they say, hit the mark. This is once more affirmed by their Gospel series.

Go to Main

The New Testament Project

Artists: Dmitry Vrubel and Victoria Timofeeva
Curator: Marat Guelman
River Station Hall, Ordzhonikidze 2, Perm

The New Testament Project is made possible with the support of the Russian Avant-Garde Foundation and NP Art Epoch (AG MELAX).

Exhibition Hours:
February 27 - April 26, 2009
12:00 p.m. - 9 p.m., daily

Exhibition Opening: February 26, 2009, 7 p.m.
Press Conference: February 26, 2009, 6 p.m.

Press accreditation is required for the opening and the press conference
Perm: Vladislav Gorin: +7 (342) 277 08 76
Moscow: Ksenia Semenova: +7 (963) 648 56 40

Developed by