Luxury and Degradation in the Town of Gelendzhik

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • May 26, 2023

  • Email

Russian American Cultural Center presents "Luxury and Degradation in the Town of Gelendzhik", a show that includes eighteen works by Dmitry Borshch. He says about them, "Two years ago Russian opposition figure Navalny with his team released an exposé 'Palace for Putin. A Story of the Largest Bribe' (they called it 'Дворец для Путина. История самой большой взятки') about the residence allegedly built for Vladimir Putin; his friend Rotenberg claims to own it now. Based on luxury items shown in that film and photographs builders of the Italianate palace made (they were leaked to RuLeaks more than twelve years ago), my works are cast in stainless steel like those of Jeff Koons from the series he first showed at Daniel Weinberg and International With Monument galleries in eighty-six. Its title forms a part of mine. In it by Gelendzhik I mean the district, not the town, which includes wineries like Krinitsa, often featured at Russian government banquets, and villas of Putin associates, smaller than his (alleged) residence at Cape Idokopas, yet as luxurious. Residences like that could have belonged to Lukashenko if he had Putin's wealth, other dictators, autocrats, so I indict them all.

Koons' 'Luxury and Degradation' is one influence on my show, another is 'Fallen Chandelier' by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: here, as in Tbilisi where I showed fifteen of these works, a chandelier canopy and chain are attached to the gallery ceiling; on the floor beneath them – as if fallen, broken off from above – are two chandeliers in the style we find hanging at Putin / Rotenberg dacha, one for each of them, with stainless steel pendants around both, making a light ringing sound generated by me through an AI music generator. Among the works shown you also find window and canopy bed curtains (so luxurious, they are the opposite of Rauschenberg's Bed), a topiary garden seen outside the palace, Russian Orthodox church there, all cast in stainless steel, occasionally with gold, silver plating. The curtains may be recast in iron if the new Iron Curtain descends between Russia and the West, maybe from Baltic (its Gulf of Finland) to Black seas – most probably not the Adriatic Sea, like in Churchill's time.

This show premiered at Fine Arts Lab on Turgenev Street in the capital of Georgia, which is our fellow nonprofit, under the title 'Роскошь и деградация в Геленджике' about five months ago. Premiering it in Russia would be too dangerous: visitors, organizers could be punished administratively with a fine of up to one hundred thousand rubles (officials, juridical persons are fined more) – article 20.3.3, Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, or criminally with a jail term of up to fifteen years – article 207.3, the Criminal Code. Tbilisi has a sizable population of Russians who fled their country after it attacked Ukraine last February; I hope the show dissuaded a number of them, especially creative ones, from going back to Russia and strengthening Putin's government with their skills, knowledge." 

(Moral) degradation often precedes (physical) destruction, so the show about 3D printing of destroyed cultural artifacts, entitled "Printing Lost Culture of Ukraine", will happen later this year at Ukraine House New York, established by Dmitry Borshch last year after a consultation with the executive director of Ukraine House Davos, who voiced support for its establishment. Both shows are supported by funds from New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and Materials for the Arts (MFTA). 

Dmitry has often collaborated with Russian American Cultural Center. It was founded in 1998 by Dr. Regina Khidekel and earned its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 1999. RACC aims to provide permanent cultural representation to more than 700,000 Russian-speaking residents of New York. The center has adopted and broadened the strategy of organizations like No Longer Empty, which invigorate neighborhoods by mounting exhibitions in their unutilized or temporarily underutilized spaces. Visitors coalesce around a space where art may have never been exhibited before. 

The artist was born in Dnipropetrovsk, studied in Moscow, today lives in New York. His works have been exhibited at Russian American Cultural Center (New York), HIAS (New York), Consulate General of the Russian Federation (New York), Lydia Schukina Institute of Psychology (Moscow), Contemporary Art Centers (Voronezh, Almaty), Museums of Contemporary Art (Poltava, Lviv). In 1989 he was accepted by the US as a political refugee from the USSR and, since February of last year, a refugee again, fleeing the war from Dnipropetrovsk to New York.

The exhibition schedule:

"Роскошь и деградация в Геленджике / ფუფუნება და დეგრადაცია გელენჯიკში" January 23 – February 25, 2023
Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 7 pm, free admission
Fine Arts Lab, 7 Ivan Turgenev Street, Tbilisi 0102, Georgia

"Luxury and Degradation in the Town of Gelendzhik" June 26 – July 28, 2023
Monday – Friday, 10 am – 7 pm, free admission
RACC Satellite Space in Garden City, 1205 Franklin Avenue, 3rd Floor, Garden City, NY 11530 

  • Email

Related Press Releases