The “Kandinsky Prize”, Russia’s largest award for contemporary artists, similar to the “Turner Prize” in the UK and the “Marcel Duchamp Prize” in France, awarded its winner on Thursday for “Project of the Year.” Established in 2007 by the “ArtChronika” Foundation the award is appropriately named after Russia’s most influential and cultural iconic artist, Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944). The prize aims to grant € 40,000 to the winning artist and help maintain and grow Russia’s contemporary arts while securing its place in Russia as well as across the globe.
This year’s winner, Irina Nakhova stole the show with her deeply personal, yet culturally connected project, “Untitled.” When her mother was just 14, her father (Irina’s grandfather) was taken from their home in the dark of night never to return, in 1939. After being declared an “enemy of the people” the Stalin regime executed him along with countless others, spreading terror across the Soviet Union. Her work, an old black and white family photograph printed on vinyl with red parachute silk protruding from the faces of the men is understood and genuinely felt in her artist statement, “To understand through private imagery how millions of people were erased from history and happily forgotten; how people have been blinded and their souls destroyed so that they can live without memory and history.” The award was presented in an old Stalin-era theater that homed many of the men responsible for carrying out Stalin’s cruel and unexplainable actions, which as been covered into a contemporary art museum.