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Moscow Museum of Modern Art opens Haim Sokol's first large-scale museum project
Haim Sokol. Testimony. 2015. Full HD video. Screenshot.

MOSCOW.- The Moscow Museum of Modern Art is presenting the solo exhibition of Haim Sokol – the artist’s first large-scale museum project. Initiating his creative career in Jerusalem in 2006 after he had graduated from the Hebrew University, Sokol boldly asserted himself on the Moscow arts scene two years later and since then continues to actively work in Russia.

The display unites Sokol’s works from various years executed in a wide array of media – installations, videos, objects, “performative” drawings and texts. Two monumental installations have been produced outdoors in situ in the museum’s courtyard. Nevertheless, the exhibition is conceived not so much as a traditional retrospective that would aim to represent the artist’s twelve-year period of work, but as a new synthetic project.

The video entitled “Testimony” (2015), the running time of which is almost two hours, forms the conceptual and structural centerpiece of the exhibition – in a way, its metastatement. It encapsulates all of Sokol’s recurrent themes – those of personal destiny and collective memory, labor and migration. At the heart of the narrative are the recollections of the artist’s father: in 1941, as an eleven-year-old boy, he ended up in a Jewish ghetto on the territory of the Germany-occupied Ukraine. However, of pivotal importance for Sokol, “Testimony” far transcends the framework of an autobiographical account.

Shot in the space of the Fabrika creative industries center in Moscow, the video unfolds before the spectator a series of allegorical mise-en-scènes – performances that merge theater and ritual, acted out consecutively by two characters, the Angel of History and the Migrant. An attempt to provide testimony to the traumatic experience of the Holocaust from the perspective of private family history is turned by Sokol into a dramatic, elegiac meditation on the victims of the politics of exclusion, where realities of the past and the present coexist.

The footage of “Testimony”, separate episodes of which are demonstrated in various rooms in a multi-channel format, are supplemented by object-based and graphic works. All of these –the fragments of already executed projects and series, as well as works especially produced for the present exhibition – transpire to be thematically linked with the main video. The staged for the camera and the materially palpable are intertwined here to form a unified immersive installation.

Regular performances by Haim Sokol – reenactments of the video’s key scenes
in the museum environment, – and a series of discussions and lectures dedicated to the problems of contemporary memorial culture, will form an essential part of the exhibition.

Haim Sokol was born in Arkhangelsk in 1973. Graduated from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow. He teaches at the Alexander Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia and is a member of the editorial board of the Moscow Art Magazine. Sokol is the recipient of the professional award “Soratnik” (2009) and has been nominated for the “Innovation” prize (short-list of 2008, 2014) and the Kandinsky Prize (long-list of 2014).

The artist’s solo exhibitions have been held at the leading art venues in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. He has participated in numerous group shows in Russia and abroad, including the 2nd Kyiv Biennale (2015), the 1st Indian Biennale at Kochi-Muziris (2012) and the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2009).

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