Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) is considered a pioneer in abstract art. In an example of art-within-art, director Nastia Korkia chose to display his 1932 work Dramatic and Mild in what was once the dingy break room of a Moscow power station and film the reactions of the viewers where only one or two people could see it at a time after standing in line for a long time.
This article describes the background to this unusual exhibit.
Whether it’s the Mona Lisa being crowded by selfie-happy tourists at the Louvre, or perhaps, more recently, a digital, from-your-desk tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, setting is an inescapable vital part of how we respond to an artwork. Capturing a scene in which three disparate elements – the Wassily Kandinsky oil painting Dramatic and Mild (1932), a small room, and an exceptionally fit security guard – come together in the context of a unique exhibition, this short from the Russian director Nastia Korkia invites viewers to contemplate the central role of place in the experience of art.
On its surface, Korkia’s film – eponymously named for the Kandinsky painting at its centre – is an unfussy exercise. It chronicles a small slice of the 2017 ‘Geometry of Now’ arts festival, which was held inside the decommissioned power station-turned-art-complex GES-2 in Moscow. With a fly-on-the-wall observation style, the short unfolds almost exclusively within what was once (and still very much looks like) a small workers’ lounge, where Kandinsky’s painting is on temporary display. However, that painting doesn’t make a cameo until the very end, as Korkia’s focus is on the people and small interactions that percolate in the space.