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Sasha Pevak is a self-employed art worker living between Paris and Moscow. He is interested in the political nature of art, its infrastructures, and in the underlying mechanisms of its system. In a practice that is political, sensible and full of nostalgia at a time, he looks to question the boundaries between research, curatorial and artistic work, and to integrate a personal dimension by combining individual and collective narratives. He experiments with various forms of collective work and situations allowing the public to collaborate, both intellectually and emotionally, on developing the meanings of writings, discourses, art-works...
Red, Yellow, Blue 2 ou Le repartage du camembert
2020 / Site-specific work, degustation and discussion
5 camemberts, food coloring, fridge
I was selected to participate in an art-residency. Shortly before coming, I found out that the participants were not paid exactly the same amount of money for their work (though everyone still below the miminum wage), while a group of artists were not paid at all. In response to that, I organized a discussion and a collective reflection on the questions of individual artistic strategies, work and wages, inequality and solidarity in the art field. The discussion took place around a table with camemberts. In French, the word 'camembert' means 'pie chart' when we refer to statistics. I used this wordplay to recreate edible diagrams representing every group of artists in the residency: those that were paid 100%, 75%, 50% and 0% for their participation. While the fifth camembert winked at an unprecedented event that happened during the Turner Prize in 2019, when the prize was shared between the four finalists after their solidarity plea. Through this exemple and while we were degustating the camemberts, I suggested to look at the alternative models of artistic (self-)organisation, that are currently confronting or hijack the functioning of art institutions.
Exhibition view. Photo: objets pointus
With: Jimmy Beauquesne, Bady Dalloul, Jesse Darling, Marijke De Roover, Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, Olivia Hernaïz, Candice Lin, Adrian Mabileau Ebrahimi Tajadod, Simon Martin, Dala Nasser, Josèfa Ntjam, Bassem Saad, Hanna Zubkova
Curated by: Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak
24.10 - 21.11.2020
With: Jimmy Beauquesne, Bady Dalloul, Jesse Darling, Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, Olivia Hernaïz, Candice Lin, Simon Martin, Dala Nasser, Josèfa Ntjam, Bassem Saad, Hanna Zubkova
Curated by: Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak
14.02 - 24.03.2020
La Box, Bourges
With: Marijke De Roover, Adrian Mabileau Ebrahimi Tajadod
Curated by: Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak
13.12.2019 - 25.01.2020
La Box, Bourges
With: Babi Badalov, Eric Baudelaire, Bady Dalloul, Nikita Kadan, Kapwani Kiwanga, Sophie Ristelhueber, Société Réaliste
Curated by: Sasha Pevak
13.10 - 17.11.2018
Galerie Poggi & FIAC, Paris
With: Babi Badalov, Eve Beaurepaire, Jimmy Beauquesne, Claire Chassot, Steven Cohen, Mathilde Dadaux, Kevin Desbouis, Jean-Baptiste Ganne, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Karol Radziszewski, Marijke De Roover, Constance Sorel, Diana Tamane, Vincent Voillat, Hanna Zubkova
Curated by: Sasha Pevak
In the frame of JERK OFF 2018
DOC! & Point Éphémère, Paris
The Opposing Shore
With: Clément Cogitore, Bady Dalloul, Rémi Duprat, Jonas Fischer, Aslan Gaisumov, Nikita Kadan, Ioanna Neofytou, Chantal Peñalosa, John Smith, Diana Tamane, Marie Voignier, Vincent Voillat
Curated by: Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou & Sasha Pevak
23.09 - 20.10.2017
In the frame of the 7th Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art
CCI Fabrika, Moscow
‘If the museum is funded by exploitative labor practices, or practices that are ruining the planet, it remains only a health spa for art lovers.’ Interview with Renzo Martens
The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums & Culture
Transitory Parerga: Access and Inclusion in Contemporary Art
In 2012, the Dutch visual artist and film-maker Renzo Martens founded The Institute for Human Activities (IHA), which since 2014 has been developed in collaboration with the cooperative Cercle d’art des travailleurs de plantations congolaises (CATPC) on a former palm-oil plantation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through the IHA, Martens looked to analyze the global mechanisms of power and resource, as well as the place of plantation workers in the global economic chain and in the history of modern and contemporary art. During the Institute’s five-year ‘reverse gentrification’ program, the ex-plantation workers from the CATPC engaged themselves in producing art, showing and selling it in the Occident, and thus increasing their revenues considerably. The IHA is now in its second five-year program entitled The Post-Plantation. Thanks to the benefits from the sales of the artworks, the cooperative extended their land and started to transform the former monoculture plantation into what they call ‘a post-plantation’: sustainable worker-owned gardens. Through their activities and artistic practices, Martens and the CATPC seek to review the history of the global art system and to change its contemporaneity. The impact of inclusive and critical art produced and consumed in the Occident is, according to Martens, very limited, as it does not produce much real change in the regions with which it engages. Genuine inclusion in the art would mean that previously excluded groups obtain the power to decide who and what should be included or excluded.
Art and Power in Putin’s Russia
The separation between art and power in Russia's recent history has never been clear-cut. Soon after the fall of the USSR, contemporary art, namely actionism in the 90s, openly criticized society and entered the political sphere. This trend continued after Vladimir Putin's election in 2000.
In order to assure the control over the system of art in Russia, the outlines of a new cultural policy began to appear with the return of Vladimir Putin as President in 2012 and the nomination of a new Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinski. To compete against practices that appeared spontaneously, Medinski created his own version of contemporary culture – 'a patriotic duplicata or simulacra of vital artistic culture'.
This mission was led by Medinski, until then a state official of the pro-Putin party, United Russia, renowned for his patriotism. In October 2013, the Federation Council, through its president Valentina Matvienko, announced a new direction for society: 'Russia has been in need of new standards in culture for some time now, because throughout the past ten years one has observed an increasing amount of foreign ideas.' Medinski followed in her footsteps, after visiting the 5th Biennale of Contemporary Art in Moscow, with this statement: 'I was walking and thinking: why doesn't anyone cry out that the emperor is naked? Why should we believe that contemporary art is something abstract and cubist, twisted and bent, that resembles a pile of bricks? And what's more, financed by public money! Quite apart from the fact that for most Russians it's totally incomprehensible.' He also announced that he was going to reactivate an old Soviet institution called Rosizopropaganda (rebaptized Rosizo in 1994), to 'make use of Russian culture in
propaganda through the visual arts'.
Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou – September 14, 2016 – March 27, 2017
Marges, 24, 2017, 20.04.2017
Texts for exhibitions
Nikita Kadan. The Day of Blood
October 2020 (upcoming)
Galerie Poggi, Paris, France
The Day of Blood by Nikita Kadan evokes a strange and violent Roman festivity Dies sanguinis, one of the mysteries of the cult of Cybele and Attis. On this day, Romans flogged themselves until they bleed, then sprinkled the altars with blood; some were trying to emasculate themselves, wishing to physically experience Attis' sinuous fate and pain. According to one of the myths, Zeus full of desire for Cybele, ejaculated on a stone and thus gave birth to the hermaphrodite named Agdistis. Frightened by his strength, Dionysos intoxicated Agdistis by adding the wine from the source from which he was drinking, then tied his testicles in such a way that his erection would cause castration. From his shed blood grown an almond tree, of which Nana, daughter of the river god Sangarios, ate a fruit and was fertilized, giving birth to Attis. Though abandoned, he survived and became a young shepherd of such beauty that Cybele fell in love with him. She demanded a fidelity which Attis would not respect ; Cybele would hit him madly, causing desperate Attis to mutilate himself, 'removing the weight of his arm' to lose his 'virility'. His blood gave birth to a pine, eternally green.
With: Olaf Breuning, Daniel Buren, Claude Closky, Julie Faure Brac, Joséphine Kaeppelin, Sylvie Lehmers, Violaine Lochu, Françoise Pétrovitch, Katrin Ströbel, Corinne Troisi, William Wegman
Curated by: Mehryl Levisse
10.08 - 31.08.2020
espace temporaire d'art contemporain balak, Charleville-Mézières, France
Depuis neuf ans, l’espace temporaire d’art contemporain balak transforme de nombreux défis en possibilités. Implantée dans la région Grand Est à Charleville-Mézières, ville natale d’Arthur Rimbaud riche de programmations dédiées à la poésie, ainsi que la capitale française de l’art de la marionnette, cette structure a été créée en 2011 par l’artiste Mehryl Levisse, afin de combler le vide institutionnel en matière d’art contemporain et de proposer une programmation régulière d’expositions. La 10e édition qui se déroule dans le contexte très particulier du post-confinement, s’intéresse aux espaces de commerce local qui disparaissent progressivement de paysages urbains depuis les décennies déjà, suite à l'expansion de grandes enseignes, au déplacement de commerces sur Internet et à la centralisation de l’économie dans les grandes villes. En réponse à ces phénomènes, ainsi qu’à la raréfaction de contacts humains, balak par une multitude de gestes artistiques cherche à réenchanter ces lieux, aujourd’hui déserts, et à offrir aux habitant.e.s de Charleville-Mézières des moments pour s’échapper du quotidien et renouer les liens sociaux.
Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak
With: Jimmy Beauquesne, Bady Dalloul, Jesse Darling, Marijke De Roover, Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, Olivia Hernaïz, Candice Lin, Adrian Mabileau Ebrahimi Tajadod, Simon Martin, Dala Nasser, Josèfa Ntjam, Bassem Saad
Curated by: Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak
14.02 - 24.03.2020
La Box, Bourges, France
Chloé Op de Beeck. The Subject of Attention
Show Me Tomorrow, We Will Go There. HISK laureates 2018
With: Anaïs Chabeur, CHE GO EUN, Pieter De Clercq, Marijke De Roover, Bram Demunter, Liesbeth Henderickx, Susanna Inglada, Chloé Op de Beeck, Mostafa Saifi Rahmouni, Leander Schönweger, Sarah Smolders, Lisa Wilkens
23.11 - 16.12.2018
HISK – Higher Institute for Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium
Chloé Op de Beeck. The Subject of Attention
Bady Dalloul. Scrapbook
Évènements historiques, faits personnels et fiction s’entrelacent dans l’exposition « Scrapbook » de Bady Dalloul. Ici, en face de l’histoire de la Syrie et du Japon d’après-guerre et du tracé des frontières au début du 20e siècle, l’artiste dresse une dimension humaine. Puis, dans un geste emprunté des puissants du monde, il fait basculer les logiques historiques par de simples traits de crayon sur les cartes, donnant naissance à des pays et des populations entières ; car, comme le révèle l’étymologie, « cartographier » ne signifie pas plus que « dessiner sur papier ».
Claire Chassot. Les faux décors du réel
In the frame of the GENERATOR curatorial residency
I use the expression "superfluid museum" as a metaphor for artistic institutions and collections, that find themselves in a permanent transitory state. In physics, superfluidity refers to frictionless flow of a liquid, as well as to properties of some unusual cosmic matters. Speaking about art, superfluid would be museums that are impossible to grasp: inaccessible and accessible at the same time, they are slipping through fingers, jurisdictions and physical spaces. They may be present and absent at the same time, just as the Schrödinger's Cat; they may be not what they pretend to be, or not physically exist at all because rare are those who saw them with their own eyes.
One of the starting points for my reflection on superfluid museum is the analysis of the notion of an art museum itself. Thus, museum as institution is commonly understood as a collection of objects presented to publics in a given space (physical and/or virtual). The terms of access are provided to visitors who, without almost any exception, can enter a museum. Main functions of a museum are often related to general interest of a nation: diffusing cultural heritage, educating, contributing to the national self-identification, etc. Still, as we know, understanding of a museum as a public space par excellence is quite recent as first art collections were private, and thus restrictive. Created by individuals, they reflected their choices and were reserved for certain people and not to other people; also, they were physically contained in private spaces. In most cases, private and royal collections gave birth to museums once the "national treasures" were rendered to the nation, often as a result of revolution and nationalization.
My idea is to look at the examples of contemporary art institutions that are not temporarily suspended of view due to exceptional circumstances, nor transformed into a virtual museum, but the essence of which is superfluidity. Superfluid museums escape anchoring to a specific place, escape devoting to general interest or providing universal, or even any access. They exist through cataloguing, digitalization, visualization, bank transactions, media coverages, thus transgressing classical understanding of a museum. In this approach, I was inspired by Hito Steyerl’s artistic and writer’s work, and especially by the essay Duty-Free Art (2015). In it, she evokes "extraterritorial" art spaces, transit duty-free zones where art is stocked, temporarily and permanently at the same time, like Geneva freeport (Port Francs) for instance. It is indeed fascinating that one of the biggest art collections in the world is kept in boxes, beyond any state jurisdiction, and is used as currency in financial transactions (often becoming subject to speculation on authenticity and value of objects inside the boxes). After a preliminary study of the Port Francs, I learned about guided tours when one may visit their storages full of precious, still invisible content. An innovative service was proposed during the covid crisis, that of a 5D-scanning of art works, realistic visualizations of which are used for commercial or conservation needs. Though almost inaccessible, the collection’s physical and virtual forms may offer interesting parallels to the nature of museums and a ground for reflection on their possible futures.
Another example I am considering is at first glance a complete opposite to the freeports. It is a joint initiative of a Dutch artist Renzo Martens and the Cercle d'art des travailleurs de plantation congolaise (CATPC) – the Institute for Human Activities, implemented in Congo since 2017. Via the IHA, Renzo Martens aimed to “gentrify a palm oil plantation” and to reappropriate the established power and economical distribution chains, making the local labor benefit from the globalized art system. The Institute has a regular exhibitions and residency programs in a remote area of Congo. Among their previous gestures was producing an exhibition of sculptures prototypes of which were created by the CATPC artists on the plantation in clay, 3D-scanned and sent to Amsterdam where they were later reproduced in chocolate. After slipping through multiple physical, economical and juridical frontiers, the sculptures are on view, and on sale in the Occident multiplying astronomically the plantation workers’ revenue. One of the consequences of the position of the IHA is its existence mostly through images, media coverages, 3D-printed objects and financial operations, while the activities in Congo itself are visible to a limited audience of plantation workers. And what if the Institute does not exist at all and the images we see are pure fiction, just as the footage of the USA astronauts walking on the moon probably was a staging?
I find parallels between freeports and the IHA stimulating. The two seem to flow in-between realities and impossible to grasp: the first one due to its private and restricted status, and the second one because of its remoteness, while both call on technology to communicate with the outer world and use art as currency. Starting with these cases, I look to develop more on the notion of superfluid museum, problematize the question of access to art and reflect on the historical cycles of diffusion and circulation of cultural heritage. What are the consequences of the development of market on art collections? How do artworks serve as liquidity? What is the impact of these processes on the future of museums? What does the phenomenon of superfluid museums tell about our epoch? What is the role of technology in functioning of superfluid museums? At which (critical) historical points the cultural heritage may be nationalized, restituted or rendered public? What potentials might superfluid museums have in terms of offering access to art to a wide audience, especially at the moment of global crises like the one we are crossing now?
Соли - это хрупкие тела
In the frame of L'hiver n'aura pas lieu cette année by Vincent Voillat (07.09 - 05.10.2019, Galerie Eric Mouchet, Paris, France)
Соли - это
которые растворяются в воде,
причем она остаётся прозрачной"
Dans le passé
Ils se dissolvent dans l'eau.
Malgré cela, elle reste
Cristal de sel
Рассыпаешься в порошок
Quand je mets le comprimé
et malgré cela,
elle reste transparente
J'avais acheté un paquet de sel
C'était le sel aux algues
Pour me rappeler de vous.
Les souvenirs à l'eau
Je t'ai préparé des haricots
Sasha Pevak is a self-employed art worker living between Paris and Moscow. He is interested in the political nature of art, its infrastructures, and in the underlying mechanisms of its system. In a practice that is political, sensible and full of nostalgia at a time, he looks to question the boundaries between research, curatorial and artistic work, and to integrate a personal dimension by combining individual and collective narratives. He experiments with various forms of collective work and situations allowing the public to collaborate, both intellectually and emotionally, on developing the meanings of writings, discourses, art-works.
Sasha Pevak previously collaborated with the National Institute for Art History, le Frac Île-de-France, DOC!, Galerie Poggi, Paris 8 University in Paris, ENSA & La Box in Bourges, EESAB & 40mcube in Brittany, ESADMM & Manifesta 13 in Marseille, HISK in Ghent, Garage Museum, International Biennale of Contemporary art, and CCI Fabrika in Moscow. Since 2017, he is part of the teaching team of the IESA in Paris, and currently is a visiting lecturer at ENSA Bourges. He contributed to the magazines: The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums & Culture, Marges, Optical Sound, Switch (on Paper) and others. He is a PhD student at Paris 8 University, under the direction of Professor Jérôme Glicenstein.
In 2018, he co-founded the association Marcovaldo; in 2020, he joined the Art Curator Grid platform. In May 2020, in the context of the Covid crisis, he launched a collective initiative curatorial hotline. In its frame, he devotes several hours of his time per week to video calls with emerging artists, offering them theoretical guidelines, practical advice and maintaining human contact. He is now preparing an interview with the Dutch artist Renzo Martens for The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums & Culture.
Since 2015 | Independent art worker
Since 2020 | Guest lecturer, "Histories of bodies / Art histories", ENSA, Bourges
2019-2020 | Guest lecturer, "Emotional Labor: Artistic and curatorial practices", ENSA, Bourges
Since 2017 | Professor, "(Post-)soviet contemporary art", IESA, Paris
2017–2019 | Professor, "Curating", Master en médiation de l’art contemporain, Université Paris 8, Vincennes-Saint-Denis
2016–2017 | Member of the editorial board, Marges, Presses universitaires de Vincennes
2015 | Assistant of the Director of the exhibitions department, Le frac île-de-france, le plateau, Paris
2014 | Assistant of Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, "L’Etrange cité", Monumenta, RMNGP, Paris
2012 Exchange program for emerging curators, EUNIC, Institut français, Paris – Moscow
2020 | to Thomas, with: Jimmy Beauquesne, Bady Dalloul, Jesse Darling, Marijke De Roover, Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, Olivia Hernaïz, Candice Lin, Adrian Mabileau Ebrahimi Tajadod, Simon Martin, Dala Nasser, Josèfa Ntjam, Bassem Saad, curated by: Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak, Ygrec, Aubervilliers
to Thomas, with: Jimmy Beauquesne, Bady Dalloul, Jesse Darling, Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, Olivia Hernaïz, Candice Lin, Simon Martin, Dala Nasser, Josèfa Ntjam, Bassem Saad, curated by: Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak, La Box, Bourges & Ygrec, Paris-Aubervilliers
2019 | Emotional Labor, with: Marijke De Roover & Adrian Mabileau Ebrahimi Tajadod, curated by: Lucas Morin & Sasha Pevak, La Box, Bourges
Place of Art, artistic and discursive program, with: Andrea Acosta, Steven Cohen, Tarek Lakhrissi, g. olmo stuppia, Alex Schulz Steckman, Hanna Zubkova and others, curated by: Marcovaldo (Anna Battiston, Sasha Pevak, Natalia Prikhodko), Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris
2018 | The Border is a State of Mind, with: Babi Badalov, Eric Baudelaire, Bady Dalloul, Nikita Kadan, Kapwani Kiwanga, Sophie Ristelhueber, Société Réaliste, curated by: Sasha Pevak, Galerie Jérôme Poggi & FIAC, Paris
to Michael, in the frame of JERK OFF 2018, with: Babi Badalov, Eve Beaurepaire, Jimmy Beauquesne, Claire Chassot, Steven Cohen, Mathilde Dadaux, Sorour Darabi, Kevin Desbouis, Jean-Baptiste Ganne, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Karol Radziszewski, Marijke De Roover, Constance Sorel, Diana Tamane, Vincent Voillat, Hanna Zubkova, curated by: Sasha Pevak, DOC! & Point Ephémère, Paris
2017 | The Opposing Shore, with: Clément Cogitore, Bady Dalloul, Rémi Duprat, Jonas Fischer, Nikita Kadan, Ioanna Neofytou, Chantal Peñalosa, John Smith, Diana Tamane, Marie Voignier, Vincent Voillat, curated by: Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou & Sasha Pevak, 7th Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art, CCI Fabrika, Moscow
2015 | Re-Do, Do Not Repeat, artists: Ignasi Aballi, Yury Albert, Nina Beier et Maire Lund, Jérémy Bennequin, Michel Blazy, Elmgreen and Dragset, Lee Lozano, Anna Maria Maiolino, Joachim Mogarra, Roman Ondak, Lygia Pape, Amalia Pica, Tobias Rehberger, Ian Wilson, curated by: Tridécagone, Exhibition hall Quai Antoine Ier, Monaco
Residencies and summer schools
2021 | Archive Summer, Garage Museum, Moscow (upcoming)
August 2020 | White Mountain College Summer Institute, in the frame of Manifesta 13, ESADMM, Marseille
November 2019–March 2020 | La Box, Bourges
September–December 2019 | Place of Art, INHALab, Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris
December 2017 | ACROSS, Thankyouforcoming, Nice
September 2017 | CCI Fabrika, in the frome of the 7th Moscow International Biennale for Contemporary Art, Moscow
March 2017 | GENERATOR, 40mcube, Rennes
July 2016 | Summer School at the Bibliothèque Kandinsky, MNAM - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Sasha Pevak, ‘If the museum is funded by exploitative labor practices, or practices that are ruining the planet, it remains only a health spa for art lovers.’ Interview with Renzo Martens, Transitory Parerga: Access and Inclusion in Contemporary Art, 2020 (upcoming)
Sasha Pevak, ' Art and Power in Putin’s Russia', Switch (on Paper), 29.10.2018 (republished in Optical Sound, 6, Spring 2019)
Sasha Pevak, 'Kollektsia !', Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou – September 14, 2016 – March 27, 2017, Marges, 24, 2017