20 June 2018 — 19 August 2018
Curator: Viktor Misiano
Co-curator: Anna Zhurba
The "appearance of place" can be explained, in particular, by the fact that in the modern era human existence of has increasingly begun to submit to abstractions and universals. The spaces surrounding us are created today according to speculative and rational models and more often than not "descend from on high", i.e. are called to life by the will of power and carry ideological meanings. The French thinker Henri Lefebvre called such spaces "representations of space" and contrasted them with "lived spaces" – the places that are formed by the living experience of man. "Father's house", "the place where I was born and raised", "homeland", etc. – it is precisely these places that today's urbanists refer to as place, contrasting this with space. A place, unlike a space, is defined not by its geographic coordinates, but by what it means to a human being. Its subjective value is not the same as the objective value. A place is not a territory or a fragment of the natural world: a place is created by man, not so much through his man-made creation, but through the experience of thinking about it and existence in it. To create a place, it is necessary, as Martin Heidegger said, "to build, dwell, and think." Moreover, a place may not even exist physically, but be a product of the human imagination and at the same time possess for the person no less credibility and significance than real and visible places.

Consequently, in order to become a place, a certain piece of space must become inseparable from man – just as a human being, in order to become a person, must find himself in a certain place. We can judge a person by place – for example, that of residence or birth – as, indeed, a place may be of interest to us because of its association with a certain person. By carrying within itself the experience of human existence, a place stores both his joys and traumas, and this is why losing a place is always traumatic and painful for us.

Hence, finally, it is clear that a place is historical by definition. It is inseparable from memory, and the present in it is connected with the past. That being said, involvement in a place does not involve knowledge of its history, but suggests that by living in it you live in history. In other words, a place is not a place if it does not have its genius loci ("spirit of place"). Therefore, a place needs time, in its long duration, and this distinguishes it from transit spaces – the airports, highways, supermarkets through which pass hastily in the vanity of our late modernity, not having the time to linger. Marc Augé called such spaces "non-places". And the more such non-places take over the spaces of our existence, the more we yearn for genuine places, making their creation an existential, ethical and political task.

Understood as an abstraction, space can be represented as an indivisible integrality, while places, and people, are always plural. The content and pleasure of human existence is that, by walking through life, we meet places: one after another...

artistic director of the project: Viktor Misiano
National Center for Contemporary Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center
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