ART REVIEW
September, 2016

— Helen Sumpter
After noticing me taking pictures, a little girl about five years old drew my attention to a box and offered me to capture some pigeons who were unwell.’ So reads the translated English caption that accompanies an image of said birds in Kirill Glushchenko’s handmade soft-cover book about the Russian city of Ulyanovsk. It’s a moment of intimacy amid the more impersonal, grainy black-and-white photographs of homogeneous concrete housing blocks that fill most of the pages of this and the nine similarly photo-heavy publications that form the backbone to the young Russian artist’s first solo show. Each book is focused on a different former Soviet or Eastern Bloc city — Pskov, Riga, Dresden and Tallinn among them. Adding short stories and other selected texts to the images, Glushchenko provides, as with the vignette of the pigeons, glimpses into ordinary lives.
This ongoing project — for which the artist makes one or more three-to-four-day trips to each city, taking a still film camera and an old tape recorder — follows both the methodical process and the aesthetics used by the Soviet state to produce city guidebooks during the 1960s and 70s. Such books, examples of which are also on display, were a showcase for the extensive housebuilding programme during those decades, but Glushchenko’s publications — and the context in which he presents them — are multilayered, mixing elements of fact and fiction, past and present, and highlighting contrasting notions of public and private, emotional and contained, openness and obfuscation. This is quietly impressive work.
Installed within an empty space in a light-industrial factory in a district of Moscow that once contained many publishing houses (a large neon on the roof declares the building to house Glushchenko’s own eponymous publisher, ‘Glushchenkoizdat’), each publication is presented within its own reading area, above which the relevant city’s name is spelled out in neon. Here visitors can sit and read the books, peruse the accompanying postcards and listen on headphones to the ambient sounds of that city playing on a large reel-to-reel tape recorder. Like the books, this experience elicits feelings of both intimacy and eavesdropping, an unease heightened by the slowly turning reels of the tape machine and its associations with interrogation and surveillance.
Similar ideas of private and public are subtly subverted by a second body of work, based on the found diaries of a bus driver named Nikolai Kozakov (1932–2005), in which their author records his loves, longings and everyday activities. In publishing these as a book, Glushchenko again reveals a desire to show what goes on behind closed doors and concrete facades. Photographs and film of Kozakov, which the artist obtained from his widow, add a documentary feel, but sound booths emanating excerpts from the diaries read out by a well-known (in Russia) tv presenter are another twist on expectations, mismatching the often emotional content to a voice pitched to deliver a more propagandist message.
With only some of the written texts and one audio excerpt currently available in translation, to non-Russian speakers much of this detail again becomes obscure, but not so the artist s desire to gently reveal personal stories and hidden histories.
ART MONTHLY
September, 2016

— Chris McCormack
Kirill Gluschenko, a Moscow-based artist who benefited from the support of the VAC to complete his exhibition ‘Our Days are Rich and Bright’, created an imprint of books and recordings in an area of now empty newspaper and book warehouses in the outskirts of the city. Gluschenko paralleled the work of 1950s Soviet- era journalists by visiting the then newly minted cities under communist rule long relinquished, such as Dresden, Pärnu, Tallinn, Tartu, Riga, Pskov and Ulyanovsk. Gluschenko, unlike his forebears who proudly reported on Soviet life and its splendour, recorded more incidental and abject events that occurred. In perhaps a conscious nod to the Moscow Conceptualists, who, in order to make a living, joined the applied arts and graphic design union (they were not considered to be artists by the traditional artists’ union), Gluschenko’s minor histories subtly spoke of how power obscures its tracks. The placing of otherwise hidden histories back into circulation and thought, still threatened by oppressive systems, has never been more urgent.
ARTNET
July 5, 2016

— Hettie Judah
In a rented top floor site in a 1970s block in the north of Moscow, Kirill Glushchenko’s exhibition “Our Days are Rich and Bright” came to a close this last weekend. A beautifully designed show of books and field recordings created by the young artist’s fictional publishing house Glushchenkoizdat, the overall project riffed off Soviet-era travel guides and the living heritage of brutal-modernist and prefabricated architecture. Curated by V-A-C’s head of exhibitions Katerina Chuchalina, this unconventional and generously installed exhibition presaged well for the Foundation’s dedication to support young artists in the future.
КОММЕРСАНТЪ
12 мая, 2016

— Валентин Дьяконов  
Поэтическое название выставки взято из книги немецкого журналиста и историка Карла Хайнца Беле, посвященной жизни и быту обитателей Германской Демократической Республики в начале 1970-х. Таких книг, фотоальбомов и документальных фильмов в советское время издавалось немало: можно сказать даже, что их выпуск был одним из важнейших фронтов идеологической борьбы. Теперь эта типографская продукция продается у букинистов на вес, но Кириллу Глущенко она дорога как ушедшая натура, как бабушкин сад — Василию Поленову. В рамках своего собственного издательского проекта «Глущенкоиздат» художник ездит по городам Восточной Европы — Пскову, Риге, Дрездену, Ульяновску — и фотографирует нынешнее состояние того нового быта, который презентовался в советское время как достижение социализма. погружение в альбомы «Глущенкоиздата» сравнимо с просмотром ранних фильмов Вима Вендерса, вроде «Алисы в городах» или «С течением времени». В них нет развития сюжета, но есть гипноз пути, так что зритель чувствует себя очарованным странником в незначительном пейзаже.
Презентация издательства — первая часть выставки. Вторая, и более впечатляющая, посвящена реальным дневникам Николая Козакова, водителя автобуса, созданным в 1960-е. Это документ невероятной силы. Глущенко оформляет его и в виде книги, и как круг кабинок для прослушивания избранных записей, прочитанных специально нанятым диктором с узнаваемо советским тембром. Козаков писал обо всем и сразу, и его дневник представляет собой величественную картину возникновения частной жизни в эпоху оттепели. Козаков пьет с друзьями, охотится, читает мистика Якоба Беме — в общем, существует практически вне идеологических координат. Книга особенно ценна тем, что ее автор не относится к узкому кругу творческой или технической интеллигенции, и его размышления не являются инструментом борьбы за умы и власть в культуре.
Эта идеально сконструированная выставка (куратор — Катерина Чучалина, архитекторы — студия «Мел») резюмирует важные для художника темы. Кирилл Глущенко впервые засветился на зрительских радарах с дипломным проектом Института проблем современного искусства «Для отправки в панельные дома» (2009). Это был набор черно-белых открыток с городскими пейзажами панельных окраин родного художнику Калининграда. Открытки предлагалось использовать по назначению, то есть слать родственникам и друзьям, живущим в массовой застройке советской эпохи. Уже тогда было ясно, что Глущенко нащупал несколько важных тем, на тот момент очень актуальных в Европе. Во-первых, вопрос о наследии социализма и живучести идей всеобщего равенства, архитектурным воплощением которых и стали возникшие во времена оттепели программы строительства массового жилья.
THE ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW
December, 2017

— Owen Hatherley
This wonderful book documents the architectural results of another Soviet anniversary – the celebrations of the centenary of Lenin’s birth in Ulyanovsk, formerly Simbirsk, the small city on the Volga where he was born. Told by the authorities in Moscow that the ‘door would be open’ for them to modernise their mainly wooden, one-storey, Tsarist city for the duration of the celebrations, and that they’d close it immediately when it was over, the local Party rushed to build a Museum, a Library, a Palace of Culture, housing, an Airport and the high-rise Hotel Venets before the tap of money and resources was turned off. A villa was laid on for Brezhnev, who took against the town and left almost immediately after opening the Lenin Museum, and a planned banquet was cancelled. Ulyanovsk’s supermarkets were suddenly full of quails and quails eggs. This story is told through photographs – some of them making the clean International Style lines of the buildings look rather chic, others showing them to be clunky and rushed – and most interestingly, through a proliferation of documents. We get to find out how the architects got their ideas past a hostile building industry (one designer remembers literally chiselling off unwanted tiling himself when the builders weren’t looking), how the city authorities decided to decorate the city (where to put a neon sign reading ‘Communism Will Prevail’, etc) and how a sleepy provincial town dealt with a sudden influx of foreign guests. In its first year of opening, two Poles, 70 Britons, and more than 3,000 East Germans arrived to stay in the Hotel Venets, and we get to read the inventory of difficult questions they answered (‘can we see how people live in those little wooden houses?’), and find out how hotel staff took it out on the guests. A report details ‘deficiencies in table service, unauthorised menu changes, systematically subpar preparation of coffee and tea, and disregard for many requests from tourists, even if those requests were entirely possible to accommodate’.