On a mid-September evening in Moscow, in a former stable turned gallery, the art scene gathered to make peace at the art fair Cosmoscow.
The modern art show is one of the most high profile and internationally renowned in Russia.
The gathering of wealthy collectors contrasted starkly with the thousands of people who were on the streets protesting about Russia’s foreign policy and the Ukraine crisis.
Cosmoscow aims to present new artists, win new collectors and connect Russia to the international art scene. It aims to introduce Russia’s most wealthy art collectors to newer works; they usually buy old and classic modern art.
“Art transcends political boundaries.”
But the fair also acknowledged the political situation.
It invited the Galerie Artsvit from Ukraine which obtained permission to project Yoko Ono’s phrase “Earth Peace” on a wall and also write it on posters.
Also on display was Album About War, by Nikita Shalennyi: a missile case which showcased watercolors of scenes from the war in East Ukraine.
There is no escaping the fact that politics is affecting the art scene in Russia. The fair was only attended by 26 commercial galleries.
Elsewhere, Art Moscos, a fair founded in 1996 that focuses on the local art market and less expensive art, announced its closure.
Cosmoscow, famed for its flashy contemporaneity, begs the question: don’t Russians have other concerns right now?
The night before the fair opened, founder Margarita Pushkina hosted dozens of collectors and curators at her wealthy apartment. On the menu: Russian cuisine and sparkling wine from Crimea.
It seemed that Moscow’s most wealthy are concerned about the situation, but are hesitant to answer questions about politics. Some were reluctant to say whether they would support Russia or the West if the conflict escalates further. Many of their privileged friends had already moved abroad, they said.
“Art transcends political conflict,” Sandra Nedvetskaia, the Cosmoscow director said to attendees.
Meanwhile outside on the streets of Moscow, tens of thousands of people were demonstrating for peace.
This article first appeared in Die Zeit. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org