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Exhibition of AES+F art group at the Manezh

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Anna Bezkrovnaya, reporter: “The most famous Russian contemporary art group AES+F has never had such a large-scale exhibition anywhere – neither in St. Petersburg, nor in Russia, nor the world. This represents a microcosm of modern art over the last 20 years. Their key works – each one of those can become either a prophecy or a revelation”.

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These kids with weapons in their hands – a food for thoughts about the future, where the real and the virtual worlds collide. The children are in color on the shots, but covered in gold as sculptures. They look like antique gods – only this ancient history has been altered by spaceman-like helmets and rifles.

Just like in a video game, these characters do not experience pain or fear. There could be a hint of skepticism in all that, but artists refute the notion.

Tatyana Arzamasova, artist at the AES+F Group: “We are not into didactics. One should not regard predictions made in art very seriously. But when an artist shows something which worries him or her – then you should take it seriously and give it a thought”.

And never forget about a humorous view – which also exists in artistic works. But, as it always happens within the contemporary art, the meanings are well hidden and twisted. Like these photo collages – a reference to antique “Trimalchio, the wealthy freedman” who hosted the most lavish feasts. The party is ancient-Roman, but the artist’s interpretation makes it look like modern-day holiday.

Vladimir Fridkes, artist at AES+F group: “Once, on a holiday in Egypt, we saw people on an all-inclusive vacation – having fun and being massaged. And on the buildings there we saw pictures of mummified pharaohs. When the pleasure becomes annoying”.

And that is a modern hotel, full of dreams and illusions. Artists create a new universe in every work. The world upside down is the main theme of Inverso Modus. People and animals trade roles – on stills and videos.

Anna Yalova, producer of the AES+F exhibition: “We see children beating up old people. Impoverished people donating to the rich. Pets – which are usually associated with something tender, cozy and calm – are shown as ugly chimeras here”.

Impressions about the European culture are flipped in one of the most popular works – the Islamic project.

Polina Mogilina, curator of the exhibition: “Illusions, where the fears of European societies in the face of Islamic expansion are visualized. Traditional European landmarks and sights are altered with Islamic overtones. Here we see the Statue of Liberty in a hijab, holding the Quran”.

Other landmarks were also transformed. The Catholic La Sagrada Familia cathedral was turned into a mosque. This work was described as “prophetic” in the early 2000s, just like many other works by AES+F. These artists can rightly be called “classics” already.

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