Tate Modern Talk

Soviet Russia in Contemporary Art

Arseny Zhilyaev, Tsiolkovsky. Second Advent​, 2017

Arseny Zhilyaev, Tsiolkovsky. Second Advent​, 2017

Hear from three contemporary Russian artists as they revisit the legacy of the Soviet Union

Russian artists of the Soviet era responded to the political, social and economic structures they experienced under a state authority. An artistic language and identity of its own developed to rival the "official" values of the government. This work was often conceptual and political but also about the everyday reality of Soviet life.

Contemporary artists today continue to build upon the heritage of the Soviet Union, revisiting its time, place and the memories. This event sees artists Sasha Pirogova, Mikhail Tolmachev and Arseny Zhilyaev discuss how their own performance, photography and installation work has responded to the Soviet period. The discussion is chaired by Natalia Sidlina, curator of Red Star Over Russia and Adjunct Research Curator, Russian Art, Supported by the V-A-C Foundation at Tate.

Learn more by attending a workshop

Further explore the political context of the work and practice surrounding the artists who featured in Soviet Russia in Contemporary Art by attending an afternoon workshop with them:

Make a day of it

For just £20 you can attend the morning talk, take part in one afternoon workshop and have same-day access to Red Star Over Russia. Book now by phoning 020 7887 8888 (9.45–18.00 daily) or in person in the gallery.

Arseny Zhilyaev, Tsiolkovsky, Second Advent

Arseny Zhilyaev, Tsiolkovsky, Second Advent. Courtesy the artist

Mikhail Tolmachev, Pact of Silence 2016

Mikhail Tolmachev, Pact of Silence 2016

Sasha Pirogova, AGON

Sasha Pirogova, AGON


Sasha Pirogova is an artist based in Moscow. She works with motion and its capacities, exploring the territory between a theatrical play and a ritual, between performativity and dance; transforming rational movements into metaphors. She holds the Innovation Prize in the “New generation” category (Moscow, 2014) and a grant of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow, 2016) for emerging artists. In 2017 she won the V-A-C Foundation and Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp Acquisition Programme. Sasha’s recent exhibitions include Balagan!!! (part of the NORDWIND Festival) in Berlin (MOMENTUM, 2015), Cabaret Kultura in London (Whitechapel Gallery, 2016) and Future Generation Art Prize in Kiev and Venice (Pinchuk Art Center/Palazzo Contarini Polignac, 2017). Her most recent work was created for the Russian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennial (2017).

Mikhail Tolmachev is a visual artist born in Moscow and currently based in Leipzig. His work touches on questions of memory, institutional display and media archeology. In his recent projects he explores documentary practices in relation to modes of political imagery. He studied at the Izvestia School of Documentary Photography (Moscow), the ICA Moscow and at the Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig. Recent shows include Space Force Construction, V-A-C Foundation, Palazzo Zattere, Venice, 2017, The School of Kyiv, Kyiv Biennial 2015, Sources Go Dark, Futura Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague 2015 and Beyond Visual Range, Armed Forces Museum, Moscow 2014. ​​

Arseny Zhilyaev is an artist based in Moscow and Voronezh. His work examines the legacy of Soviet museology and the museum within Russian Cosmism through the use of exhibition design as his medium. Zhilyaev publishes articles in e-flux journal and others. He is an editor of the anthology Avant-Garde Museology (2015). Zhilyaev’s works have been shown at the biennales in Gwangju, Liverpool, Lyon and the Ljubljana Triennale, as well as at exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, de Appel, Amsterdam, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and San Francisco, V-A-C Foundation, Moscow and Venice and others.

This event has been kindly supported by Dilyara Allakhverdova.

This event has been provided by Tate Gallery on behalf of Tate Enterprises LTD.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

25 November 2017 at 11.00–13.00

Sponsored by

The J Isaacs Charitable Trust

Artist workshops