Whitechapel Gallery &
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Established by the Whitechapel Gallery in 2008, Artists' Film International (AFI) is a collaborative project of 20 global art institutions, bringing together recent moving image works that are screened in each of the participating venues for one year. During 2020, works responding to the theme of language unfold across all partner organisations.
We at MOCT learned about the existence of the AFI program during 2018 The London Open exhibition and noticed there was no institution representing Russia. True to our mission of promoting contemporary Russian art beyond its borders, we leaped at the opportunity and approached the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. The reason being, one of the Museum's priorities is to promote young and emerging artists, bringing them into the contemporary artistic process, and this aspect closely resonated with us. Our invitation was warmly welcomed and MMOMA started the selection process that resulted in Evgeny's participation.
MMOMA is the first state museum in Russia that concentrates its activities exclusively on the art of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is an energetic institution that plays an important part in the Moscow art scene and has one of the largest and most impressive collections of modern and contemporary Russian art.
We are humbled to collaborate with these world-class institutions and excited to have taken another stride ahead towards our mission of strengthening the cultural bridge between Russia and the United Kingdom.
Composed of mobile phone footage from 2014, Courbet's Funeral by Evgeny Granilshchikov explores a personal and political moment in Moscow during emerging protests against the war in Ukraine.
Filmed like a video diary, the work captures a mood of anxiety and uncertainty about the future amongst the artist's group of friends. Dreamy semi-documentary recordings show conversations in cafes and bars, curious minds flipping through art books and carefree nights out dancing.
Evgeny, how would you introduce yourself and your practice?
I'm an interdisciplinary artist who focuses primarily on video and graphics.
Tell us a bit about your background and how did you become interested in moving images?
I was born in Moscow, lived in St Petersburg and Paris. My first education is a cartoonist. I was engaged in animation: on tracing paper I drew hundreds of pictures, which were supposed to move. My interest in cinema plastic and understanding of moving images was something natural for me. I also studied the history of cinema and photography at the university. I never thought about making a movie, but a year and a half ago I finished making my first full-length movie ('This Is The Last Song of The Evening', 2018). I'm coming back to short videos and performative art.
What was the driver for your early work?
I started my practice with very short videos similar to diary movies or essays. I filmed people close to me, worked with the political context.
What inspired/influenced you to make Courbet's Funeral?
Courbet's Funeral was filmed at a very difficult time for my country. There were protests in Moscow against the war in Ukraine, which were suppressed immediately. Everyone could feel that this was only the beginning. I shot a movie on an old iPhone that was always with me, that's why I could quickly react to the situation and capture this alarming time and the people immersed in it all.
How does the film fit into your wider practice?
I work not only with moving images but also with graphics, photography, and sound. In my solo projects, I combine all of them into a single narrative. It seems to me that some of my films are like an unofficial history of my country.
I'm interested in working with political ambiguities, with the manipulative side of the media, with stories that are being rewritten. I also study the media of cinema and video itself, analyze them to the basics and address their history.
During the current situation with lockdown, how are you maintaining your art practice from home? What are you exploring/experimenting with during this time?
I find it very inspiring and productive. I began to work more on projects not related to cinema since it isn't possible to shoot in such a situation. I made several pieces of graphics and wrote half of my music album. Recently I've subscribed to several independent channels on Twitter and to several podcasts on Soundcloud. It slightly distracts my attention from news about pandemics and politics. Also recently I've become interested in the topic of sound synthesis. I bought myself several synthesizers, began to write music for my next movie.
I'm also writing an album for my audio-visual project SADRAP. This is a strange and surprising story for me. It began when I needed a soundtrack for the ending of my movie DRAMA. I wrote it but realized that I couldn't stop. I've always been interested in pop, hip-hop and dance music. It seems to me that my addictions to videos on the one hand, and to music on the other, now finally converge.
Evgeny Granilshchikov's works range from short three minutes videos shot on a mobile phone to a film and video installation project that is constantly being updated hence potentially endless. In his search to find a new cinematic eye, he intuitively questions
and redefines what a film is and how different cinematic situations can coexist. Granilshchikov's works are often autobiographical with a complex narrative that also functions as self-referential to the medium of film and the story itself adding depth to his very particular use of cinematic imageries.