Brazilian artist Mauro Restiffe will present two series of black-and-white photographs taken in Russia first in the 1990s (during his extended stay in the country) and then 20 years later in 2015.
The arresting visual essay portrays the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, revealing the idiosyncratic and timeless qualities of two very different periods in post-Soviet Russia.
Continuing his long-term investigations into the interplay between architectural spaces and urban environments through analog photography, Restiffe’s attention focuses on various interiors, buildings, and city scenes, capturing the two cities still in the process of evolution. Although they are constantly changing, in a way the two cities can also be seen as time capsules.
The most recent series was commissioned and produced over the last two years, when Restiffe was invited to record the transformation of a 1968 Soviet Modernist building into Garage’s permanent home. Architect Rem Koolhaas' approach to preserving elements of the former Soviet canteen—while modernizing the structure so it could function as a museum—resonated strongly with Restiffe’s interests. The process became a metaphor for the artist in his renewed encounter with Russian culture, which was a formative influence on the young photographer in the 1990s.
The early series of photographs evoke an extremely personal and intimate feeling for places and people. They also evoke the aura of first experimentation, which subsequently shaped Restiffe’s aesthetic as an artist. Looking at the photos, one can already trace his interest in Modernist interiors, architectural space, and the interrelations between people and objects within those spaces—in particular with art.
For the exhibition, the two series are juxtaposed in groupings that spark unexpected poetic associations across time and subject matter. In both bodies of work a preoccupation with small, deliberately ahistorical events transpires, many of them retaining the fascination of a time diffuse between past and present, further enhanced by the timelessness of black-and-white photography. The impression derived from the resulting photographic “atlas” of the artist’s years in post-Soviet Russia is a heightened sense of how one relates to history, both personal and public, as well as life in big cities today.
To mark the first anniversary of Garage’s move into its permanent home, a special series of postcards by Mauro Restiffe bringing together a selection of pictures capturing the transformation of the Garage building will be available at Garage Bookshop. A bilingual online publication, with all the images from the exhibition and texts by leading curators and writers, will be launched on Garage website.
An in-conversation between the artist, Brazilian curator Rodrigo Moura, and exhibition curator Snejana Krasteva will be held at the opening.
Organized by Snejana Krasteva, Garage Curator.
The exhibition design is made in collaboration with architect Martin Corullon from METRO Arquitetos Associados.