Garage Center for Contemporary Culture Defines A New Moscow

Over the past four years the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture has almost singlehandedly put Moscow on the international art map. With it’s edgy curation of up to the minute exhibitions,installations and performance pieces the centre has excelled in inspiring a new generation of local emerging artists.

According to the the center’s official website important changes will now be happening in 2012. These include a major, and most important move from the center’s current location within the acclaimed and former Bakhmetevsky bus garage to a Southward location in Gorky Park. Which is now home to a cultural and leisure pavilion.The official website for the organization states that this move is to accommodate larger facilities. It will ultimately be housed in a 8,500 square meter hexagonal pavilion.

The first phase of development for Garage will see a temporary space designed by Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) which has recently accomplished projects including designs for New Court, the headquarters for Rothschild bank in London, and a partnership with a Prada sponsored pavilion in Seoul, South Korea, in 2009.

The second phase of development for the center is only vaguely discussed on the official website. The center will occupy what was the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition designed in 1923 by Ivan Zholtovsky and several other prominent Russian architects. Beyond that, the website for the center lists very few details about the logistical development, mentioning in similar and rather few words, that spaces will be expanded, doors will be larger, and art and culture will be accessible for Russians and those who wish to visit this new home for what has been circulated as, Russia’s museum of modern art.
Behind the curtains of this project is Dasha Zhukova. Ms. Zhukova remains the leading driver behind Garage’s success, yet she is often seen as a money squandering dilettante particularly by the British press. It is not the purpose of this article to further pander speculative discussions about Ms. Zhukova, but to critically examine her role within the framework of Garage’s development in 2012 and allow the project to speak for itself.
On Friday the 27th of April 2012, a press briefing will be held with Rem Koolhaass at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London to discuss the upcoming plans for Garage. Choosing London as the location for this briefing presents a positive outlook on both London as a contemporary art capital and the potential of these upcoming developments for Garage.
In addition to London being a contemporary art catalyst for Europe and the world, many of the major and minor gallery spaces are now housed in reclaimed buildings. With a glaring example such as the towering Tate Modern housed in the former Bankside Power Station. There is inspiration and successful design found all around the city which can be used to develop the future plans for Garage’s ambitious projects in Moscow.
Rem Koolhaas and OMA have a long working relationship with successful design in London with potential favorable outcome in the new design of the Garage center. In March 2012 OMA won the New City Architecture Award for the Rothschild Bank project which according to the opinion of the judges “makes the most significant contribution to the streetscape and skyscape of the City of London”.  In 2011, the Barbican center presented an exhibition curated by OMA in which they showcased their design within the notoriously challenging spaces of the Barbican center.     These are a small selection of the projects in London that OMA has facilitated in and an example of things to see in the upcoming works presented for the new Garage premises in Moscow.
London is also home to many of the latests in contemporary art exhibitions. This may also suggest a reason why the press briefing for Garage will be held in London as opposed to other European art capitals or, even in the United States. With Gillian Wearing on at Whitechapel, Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst at the Tate Modern. It is not hard to see that inspiration can be drawn and specialists acquired from the dense contemporary art landscape in and around the city. One thing that Ms. Zhukova is praised for is her ability to ascertain a world class team of designers, curators, and gallery managers to support her vision for Garage’s mission and future endeavors. Along side Rem Koolhaas, there is also Hans Ulrich Obrist who curated the exhibition Moscow on the Move in 2008 and Neville Wakefield who presented Commercial Break a project involving over a hundred artists at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. London is an ideal place for Ms. Zhukova along with the Garage corporation to observe up-and-coming London talent and form lasting relationships with individuals as well as galleries and museums for potential collaboration.
The future for Garage is bright and full of potential and there are important changes happening in 2012. The new facilities in Gorky Park will create much needed space for even larger exhibitions, cultural lectures, and education centers. Yet it appears that there is still a great deal to be revealed as far as planning and execution go and the second phase of development has yet to be circulated in detail. There is a tremendous amount of potential to be seen in the design work of Rem Koolhaas who is one of a team of talent surrounding future projects. The briefing held this Friday will hopefully present a clear outline for the short-term goals and a more concrete plan of long-term evolution for this ambitious project. Words: Portia Pettersen © ArtLyst 2012


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