How much do you know about female artists from Russia? Probably not much, am I right? While the art world is becoming more and more global, and even more inclusive, it’s rare than we are able to quickly name prominent women artists who are also Russian. But all that’s about to change. Curator Yulia Belousova has just launched GIRL GIRL GIRL, a curated contemporary nomadic art gallery promoting works by Russian women artists. Nurturing and celebrating contemporary female Russian artists whose work has been less visible internationally for decades, GIRL GIRL GIRL aims to contribute to their development by enhancing visibility and driving the demand for their works. We sat down with Yulia to chat about what gave her the idea to start GIRL GIRL GIRL and the platform’s plans for the future.
What gave you the idea to start GIRL GIRL GIRL?
I’ve been living in Europe for the last 12 years, but my family is still in Moscow, the city I come from and grew up in. While working on the global level within the art field it’s quite obvious that Eastern-European art is underrepresented. Queer art is a theme. Finally. Black artists. Female artists. Why not Russian artists? The art scene in Russia is limited and kinda cut off from the rest of the world. My first step was to start a non-for-profit space in Moscow with my close friends and to organise their shows by European artists with the goal to create a cultural hub for exchange, dialogue and education. Now it’s time for a bigger step: GIRL GIRL GIRL is a nomadic gallery that nurtures and celebrates contemporary Russian women artists whose work has been less visible internationally for decades. I see the gallery as a bridge between various cultures and places. Working hard towards fostering local talent and increasing awareness of Russian women artists on the international art scene and promoting their institutional recognition – that’s the concept that I felt necessary to realise especially after covid.
Who are your favourite female Russian artists?
There is a wide range of amazing Russian artists. Some are already well-known internationally like Taus Makchacheva, Irina Korina or Olga Chernycheva, whose work I’m following and interested in. GIRL GIRL GIRL’s program includes 6 artists for now, focusing on a younger generation.
6 artists is already a big number for a newly opened gallery, since my plan is to help in building their careers, to work with institutions, press, do fairs, partner up with residencies in Europe and present their works to the international art-community. Nevertheless I’ll slowly broaden up the gallery program that will include eastern European artists. Guest-artists will follow.
What is your relationship like with the artists you work with?
I know most of the artists personally and I’ve been following their work before I opened the gallery. Some of them I can call friends, with the others – friendship will follow. I’m sure about their talent and personal qualities, it’s important to respect each other.
What is the art scene like in Russia? And what is the female representation like?
The art scene in Russia is growing and developing drastically, it’s been very much Moscow – centralised till recently and Russia is getting new spots on the map with institutions and residencies all over, Zarya in Vladivostok and Typography in Krasnodar to mention just a few. Still, the art-scene is very local without much exchange from abroad compared to Europe: Visa politics, customs, you know it..
We have a lot of female museum directors and art professionals, that’s a positive sign. The artists scene and the business side are very much male-dominated.
Who are your art worlds heroes?
“We don’t need another hero” Peggy Guggenheim was an extraordinary person regarding her professional life (Reading tip: Mistress Of Modernism: The Life Of Peggy Guggenheim by Mary Dearborn). Maja Hoffmann is also doing a great job with Luma Arles.
You will be participating in some festivals and museum shows soon, can you tell us about that?
I strongly believe that only together we can build something sustainable. It’s important for any gallery to build their artists’ careers on a long-term basis. Collaboration is a key. GIRL GIRL GIRL is invited to participate in July at Ever Art Online Festival in Moscow featuring main cultural stakeholders. The first confirmed museum show by the gallery will follow in Berlin during the Gallery Weekend in 2021, I’m not gonna spoil the location yet and more shows at institutions are being discussed now.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
My long-term plan is to grow together with the gallery program, to expand and build up careers of young Russian female artists and later Eastern European artists. Nevertheless, I might include male artists in some of the projects or create special curatorial concepts. Speaking of a short term plan : creating a clear plan of offline shows for the rest of 2020, 2 art fair participations, a special event in Berlin for the Art Week in September (if it’s gonna happen), building up an easy and efficient dialog with artists, other spaces and institutions and creating an ….