Soviet Lives of Uncle Tom
105 NY-110, Melville, NY 11747
February 4, 11 am – March 1, 7 pm
Monday – Friday, 11 am – 7 pm, free admission
Artist talk – February 28, 2 pm
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The artist is available for interviews
Russian American Cultural Center (RACC) presents an exhibition of sixteen drawings and collages by Dmitry Borshch, "Soviet Lives of Uncle Tom", in which the artist illustrates not the book "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" but its varied lives in Russia, from 1852 to post-Soviet times. "Having read one of many Soviet children's editions of the book as a child and later becoming impressed by its global success, I have never attempted to illustrate it traditionally, in the manner of Hammatt Billings, its first illustrator, and those who followed him," says Dmitry. "In this exhibition I illustrate the handling of the book by Russian censors, editors, preface and afterword writers, publishers. Although it was published in Russia about three years before statutory abolition of serfdom, and already then manipulated for the Russian government's benefit, I focus in the exhibition on Soviet manipulations of the classic, performed by those who were living in Soviet bondage upon a novel about bondage in America. Excerpts from their prefaces to the book, afterwords, and translations are rendered calligraphically: Stowe's English and translators' Russian passages are organized into parallel columns on the same pink sheets, which helps the viewer to notice politicized manipulations of the translators and their censor-editors. All these pictures were made recently but are informed by thirty-five-year-old memories: like you [the exhibition's curator] I still remember the late Soviet treatment of this novel, when it was employed widely for anti-capitalist, anti-American propaganda, extolment of USSR as the righteous opposite of USA, advancement of Soviet hegemonic goals," concludes the artist.
Our exhibition will take place during the African American History Month, ending with a talk by Dmitry on the relationship between Russian serfs and American slaves, and the uses of literature for anti-Western purposes in Russia now. Dr. Khidekel curated "Soviet Lives of Uncle Tom", which is 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.
Russian American Cultural Center (520 East 76th Street, Suite 7E New York, NY 10021) aims to provide permanent cultural representation to more than 700,000 Russian-speaking residents of New York. It was founded in 1998 by Dr. Regina Khidekel and earned its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 1999. RACC has adopted and broadened the strategy of organizations like No Longer Empty (http://www.nolongerempty.org/) which invigorate neighborhoods by mounting exhibitions in their unutilized or temporarily underutilized spaces. Visitors coalesce around a space where art may never have been exhibited before.
Regina Khidekel received her PhD from St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts, became the director of that city's Diaghilev Art Center in 1990, and in 1998 the founding director of the Russian American Cultural Center in New York. She is the author of "It's the Real Thing" (1999, University of Minnesota Press), and has contributed essays to the following publications: "Lyubov Popova" (1994), "Lazar Khidekel: Suprematism and Architecture" (1995), "Sterligov Group: Paintings from Russia" (1995), "Russian Constructivist Roots: Present Concerns" (1997), "Forbidden Art" (1998), "Lev Meshberg" (1999), "Tamar Hirschl" (2000), "In Malevich's Circle" (2000), "A Life of Colors" (2001), "Surviving Suprematism" (2004), "Family Album. Artists from St. Petersburg" (2006), "Anna Rochegova" (2008), "Homage to Diaghilev's Enduring Legacy" (2009), "Trajectory of Suprematism" (2011), "Floating Worlds and Future Cities: Lazar Khidekel, Suprematism and Russian Avant-garde" (2013), "Building Drawings and Drawing Buildings" (2014), "Lazar Khidekel and Suprematism" (2014). She has lectured at many universities, and curated many exhibitions.
Dmitry Borshch was born in Dnepropetrovsk, studied in Moscow, today lives in New York. His drawings and sculptures have been exhibited at the National Arts Club (New York), Brecht Forum (New York), Exit Art (New York), CUNY Graduate Center (New York), Salmagundi Club (New York), ISE Cultural Foundation (New York), Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (New York), Triangle Arts Association (New York), Parish Art Museum (Southampton), International Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul University (Chicago), the State Russian Museum (Saint Petersburg), Central Exhibition Hall "Manege" (Saint Petersburg), Frieze Art Fair (London).
About the image:
An untitled illustration for "Uncle Tom’s Cabin", also called "Nigger Breakers" 2016, ink on paper, 48 x 29 inches
Good design begins with honesty, asks tough questions, comes from collaboration and from trusting your intuition.
— Freeman Thomas
— Freeman Thomas
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