Hermitage curator: ‘I was working in a country where there is no civil society’

Hermitage curator: ‘I was working in a country where there is no civil society’


norman lebrecht

June 12, 2014

An astonishingly outspoken assessment from the influential German curator Kasper König, who is about to open Manifesta, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

It is the first time the great contemporary show is being staged in Russia. Probably also the last.

Says König: The ink on my contract was still wet when that appalling anti-gay law was passed. It became clear to me that I was working in a country where there is no civil society. Practically anyone can make a law and it’s waved through as long as that person has enough money and power. These strategies, in my opinion, are meant to make the people feel insecure so that they don’t think about their future or about change.

Read the full and frank interview here, on DW, in English.



  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    “It is the first time the great contemporary show is being staged in Russia. Probably also the last.”

    Looks like they did well without it for 250 years…

    The DW article starts with “With its expansionist approach in Ukraine (…) Russia”
    Obviously the DW journalist never heard of Victoria Nuland, Joe Biden & Son, Brennan’s CIA, Rasmussen’s NATO, EU’s Ashton, Greystone and Co.

    “Kasper König: Before the Manifesta, I’d had little contact with Russia. When I was asked, I immediately said, “Yes, I’m very interested in making a proposal.” I never expected to be commissioned to do this and I believe I owe it to Mikhail Piotrovski, the director of the State Hermitage Museum.”

    So much for an insecure society…

    “Do you think that art can have an impact in today’s Russia?
    Yes, I think so…”

    Evidently not everyone can be as lucky as in Seattle…

    • m2n2k says:

      “Looks like they did well…” To you it apparently does. Others may disagree.
      “DW journalist never heard…” The article is about Russia (not Western countries) and its recent actions (much more than just words) are described accurately.
      “So much for an insecure society.” So much for taking things out of context. The passage you quoted is followed immediately by “The situation then changed rapidly…” – a key statement that you conveniently failed to include.
      The last of your quotes is a general observation that is natural to make for a person who is dedicated to arts, and these words can be applied to any country without exception.
      Finally, another important sentence that you have ignored, even though it is crucial to understanding the reality, is the following: “I’ve stopped watching Russian television – I can’t stand brainwashing anymore”.

      • Olaugh Turchev says:

        What’s funny is how you truly believe people cannot read an article and spot the hypocrisy, condescending tone and bias of the journalist and its interviewee. As for brainwashing, if you and poor Kasper really think western televisions are beacon of balanced reporting, then indeed, you’ve been had.

  • m2n2k says:

    My comment written last Friday never showed up here, so I shall attempt a brief summary. Whichever superior sources of information OT has used to learn about Victoria Nuland and the rest of his alleged villains, it is obvious to me that, compared to Russian mass media, western sources of information, though far from perfect, are a brightly shining beacon indeed. As for me, I get most of my information about Russia not from any of those at all, but from my own impressions during recent visits to the country and particularly from those few independent and knowledgeable Russian-language voices, still fortunately for us available online, that have not yet been silenced by Putin and his henchmen. And in light of what they report, it is obvious to me that Herr KK who has just spent considerable amount of time in Russia knows quite well what he is talking about.