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Art talk: Pavel Otdelnov

Welcome to this art talk with Pavel Otdelnov on Friday April 22, 12-13, in The Cabinet Room (336). Pavel Otdelnov is one of the most important contemporary Russian artists of today, and his recent exhibition Promzona at Uppsala konstmuseum deals with history, violence and propaganda. The exhibition is an act of resistance. The event is fully booked.


Picture from video Chemical plant by Pavel Otdelnov (2018)

The exhibition Promzona is based on research by the artist on the extensive chemical industry that emerged before the second world war in the artist's hometown of Dzerzhinsk in central Russia, and, after the fall of the Soviet Union, was abandoned. It has previously been shown at Moscow Museum of Modern Art in 2019, and can be seen in Uppsala until May 8, 2022.

The Russian word Promzona means industrial zone. Pavel Otdelnov has when working with the exhibition applied a journalistic method and searched through archives, linked maps to drone and satellite images, conducted interviews, and converted his motifs into drawings and paintings.

From the homepage of Uppsala konstmuseum:

"Early Soviet society’s holistic vision appears, regarding the worker and the architecture and the infrastructure of the industrial city, including child-care and nursery. During the second world war, chemical warfare agents were produced at the plants in Dzerzhinsk. After the war, the plants were producing feedstock for a broad range of Soviet industries, for example caprolactam to be used as the base for synthetic fibers, fertilizers, herbicides, tetraethyllead, DDT, phenol acetone, and PVC.  Chemical substances for hair cosmetics were produced for Wella, Schwarzkopf and P&G in the 1990s."

The exhibition is about the ideas and myths that the system (in the Soviet Union) nurtured, and about the consequences that the ideas had. But above all, it is about violence. It is about the system's violence against the little man. The people who worked in the factories became both victims of and witnesses to that violence. It is a violence that is linked to that time, but which we still see today.”

Pavel Otdelnov in Dagens Nyheter April 4, 2022 (article: After the war we have to start from zero - in Swedish)



Art Initiative