Saturday, April 28, 2012


Garage Centre to move to Moscow's Gorky Park
The architect Rem Koolhaas unveils his modest designs for the contemporary art space, founded by Dasha Zhukova

By Ermanno Rivetti. Web only
Published online: 27 April 2012

Dasha Zhukova, the patron of the not-for-profit Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, has announced plans to move the institution to the city's Gorky Park at a press conference held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. The new gallery is due to open by 2013. The architect Rem Koolhaas, who will design the new Garage Gorky Park, unveiled the plans in detail at the event. Zhukova declined to discuss the project's budget or its funders.

Zhukova said that the institution will function like a kunsthalle and said that it was a particular dream of hers to put on a Richard Serra exhibition. She also said she wants to use the new space to promote emerging Russian and international artists. This is a change in her original plan for the institution. In 2010, she told The New York Times: “The next step that I'm really interested in is building a museum of contemporary art in Moscow with a permanent collection.” Now she says there are no plans for a permanent collection. Meanwhile, her partner, the billionaire collector Roman Abramovic, owns work by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Alberto Giacometti.

The Garage, which was once housed in the historic Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, designed by the Soviet constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov, opened in 2008. Exhibitions included a retrospective of the Russian expatriate artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov in 2008, and of Mark Rothko in 2010. It attracted more than one million visitors in four years. However, the lease has expired and Zhukova and her team wanted to move to a more central location in Moscow. Koolhaas's OMA architecture studio will now renovate a prefabricated concrete building that has been abandoned since the 1990s in Gorky Park.

The Garage Gorky Park will be a modest 5,400 sq. m, but Koolhaas said this is a strength not a problem. “Art institutions are getting bigger and bigger, but scale is not necessarily always productive for art,” Koolhaas said, citing The Serpentine Gallery, London, as a successful example of a smaller-sized institution. Garage Gorky Park will have two floors for exhibitions, including a large space on the ground floor for large installations and an auditorium. Soviet era decorations, tiles, bricks and murals will be preserved not just to “avoid the sterility of white”, as Koolhaas put it, but also in an effort to integrate the country's history, art and architecture into the new vision of Russia that the institution wishes to present. However a pivoting wall system will allow certain works to be displayed against a white backdrop, should it be needed.

The park, which was also designed by Melnikov, covers around 300 acres of space along the Muskva River, in the heart of the city. It is undergoing a major renovation project of which Garage Gorky Park is an integral part. There are also long-term plans to renovate an 8,500 sq. m hexagonal pavilion near the centre and use it for exhibitions, but it is currently too derelict to meet the 2013 deadline.

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