This past September, Russia’s contemporary art fair – Cosmoscow - took place for the fourth time in the country’s capital. Although the latest edition hosted a modest number of participating galleries (thirty-eight), Cosmoscow is an art fair that can no longer be overlooked. .. In this interview, we talk to Cosmoscow’s Founding Director Margarita Pushkina about the fair’s current conditions, and her personal preferences in art.
This past September, Russia’s contemporary art fair – Cosmoscow - took place for the fourth time in the country’s capital. Although the latest edition hosted a modest number of participating galleries (thirty-eight), Cosmoscow is an art fair that can no longer be overlooked.
The fair takes place at the spacious and bright Gostiny Dvor venue, which is found adjacent to the Red Square. Sprawling booths, an extensive non-profit program that includes an Off White auction (supported by Christie's) in benefit of the Naked Heart Foundation, and strong parallel events - all demonstrate the efforts of Cosmoscow to meet the international art fair standard.
As Cosmoscow seeks to propel the Russian domestic art market, the art fair’s efforts are met with increasing interest and a growing public. This year, the VIP preview of the fair attracted over 2,000 visitors, showing the severe hunger of Russian art lovers for this kind of art experience. In this interview, we talk to Cosmoscow’s Founding Director Margarita Pushkina about the fair’s current conditions, and her personal preferences in art.
Artdependence Magazine: This year saw a 14% increase in the number of visitors, a rise in the general price range (from 1,000 to 250,000 euros), plus a record number of participating galleries. It is safe to say that you are satisfied with this year’s results?
Margarita Pushkina: We are very happy with the results of this year’s Cosmoscow. For us, it is an indicator that the project is progressing and we are moving in the right direction, in spite of whatever debilitating outer circumstances we may have encountered. We have an internal plan for the development of our project, but at the same time we understand that what we are doing goes beyond the development of this single fair: we are also working on our domestic market, we are supporting new young artists, and we are engaging with charity projects.
One of the most important criteria for us to measure our success is the opinion of gallery owners. When we hear from participating gallerists that they see more of an interest from clients towards younger artists and gallery programs – this makes us feel satisfied with our contribution to the development of the art market in Russia.
AD: What are the main challenges you faced in preparing for Cosmoscow 2016?
MP: Of course, there are always a lot of difficulties. Difficulties primarily arise around our work with participants, which is what takes up most of our effort and time. It is not easy to work with foreign galleries for various reasons, as not everyone has a clear idea about the Russian market in the present global economic situation. But we are moving forward, and we continue to communicate with and to attract an increasing number of foreign galleries and we hope that very soon we see more prominent and important galleries among our international participants. We understand that this is a slow process and are actively working in this direction.
The opening night, copyright and courtesy Cosmoscow
Cosmoscow Talks, copyright and courtesy Cosmoscow
AD: This year, Cosmoscow coincided with Moscow’s City Day – the yearly celebration of the Russian capital city. Did this overlap cause any additional problems?
MP: Normally, the dates of Cosmoscow and City Day do not match, but this year the City Day celebration date was changed and it fell on the weekend of the fair. The city center was closed and people were not always able to quickly get to our venue. When I saw the crowds of visitors at the fair on that weekend, I was eternally grateful to everyone who, despite the difficulties to get to our event, managed to pay us a visit.
AD: Personally, what kind of art do you most appreciate?
MP: As an art critic, I know art history very well and for every period I have my favorite artists. At the moment, I am very interested in communicating with young artists. It’s a privilege to talk directly with an artist and, in a way, feel personally engaged in the creative process. This year, together with Credit Suisse, our strategic partner, we launched the new Credit Suisse Cosmoscow Prize for Young Artists. Anastasia Bogomolova from Chelyabinsk, Ilya Dolgov from Kronshtadt, and Anastasia Kuzmina from Moscow were selected by a committee of international art experts as the first winners of this award, which is designed to support emerging Russian artists.
AD: What fairs do you count as must-sees in your art fair calendar?
MP: Of course, Art Basel is at all times the most important art fair. After Art Basel, I really like Frieze. FIAC has become a very interesting platform - last year it seemed to be perhaps the most interesting one, to me. What I always look for before visiting a fair is the list of participating galleries (for me, not only the most famous galleries count, but also those that are young, fresh, and show intelligence). I also consider the fair’s satellite and parallel programs. I liked Art Dubai, since it is an interesting example for us to take note of - the way in which this fair has evolved from an important regional project into an international event.
Image on top: Margarita Pushkina, copyright and courtesy Cosmoscow.
Interview was conducted for our #3 Printed Issue of Artdependence Magazine in October 2016.
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