Valera and Natasha Cherkashin

In an effort to strengthen the spirit of our city, the Russian-American Cultural Center is reopening its gallery in Lower Manhattan next to the wounded area of the World Trade Center.

"Mirages of Empires"
Russian American Cultural Center
On view from: November 30 - December 17, 2001

Valera was born in 1948 and Natasha was born in 1958.

In an effort to strengthen the spirit of our city, the Russian-American Cultural Center is reopening its gallery in Lower Manhattan next to the wounded area of the World Trade Center. Encouraged by the grant received from The New York State Council on the Arts and through the continued support of the Dynamo Development Co., we will continue our efforts to present an on-going series of solo exhibitions by Russian and American Artists, entitled Artists Career Development.

The RACC is proud to present the exhibition entitled "Mirages of Empire" by Valera & Natasha Cherkashin. These internationally recognized artists, photographers, performers, and lecturers from Moscow are not strangers to the RACC. Curator Regina Khidekel has included the works of the Cherkashins in the most famous shows of Russian and American artists in the USA, such as It's the Real Thing: Soviet and Post-Soviet Sots Art and American Pop Art (1998) and DUMBO Double Deuce (2001).

For the exhibition "Mirages of Empire" Valera & Natasha Cherkashin transform the RACC gallery into an installation space combining the black/white, jammed and silvered photo-collages with the color images of their performances and newspapers as a background. A series of works embraces the issues of the 20's century empires including Soviet and American. Using newspapers and photos of architectural landmarks to illustrate the way national monuments have reflected the history and shaped culture of great empires, Valera and Natasha Cherkashin create conceptual collages and performances that deal with understanding cultural identity through national monuments. The artists have attempted to find a common ground in architectural style that was believed to be shared by these empires in the 1930-50s.

The purpose of working with historical and controversial issues is to create a nostalgic and romantic commemoration of epochs that have passed and empires that have vanished. These mirages have a strong documentary flavor achieved by the use of specially treated materials: newspapers and photos, which have been manipulated, crushed, drained, painted red, gold, or silver, and overlaid with images.

Valera Cherkashin participation in the 70's nonconformist group of Vladimir Sterligov, which attempted to develop Suprematism a form of Russian geometric abstraction as an organic system, could be an inspiration for Cherkashins interest in organic material and process such as paper treatment and aquatic performances.

One of Cherkashins' recent projects such as an underwater installation Good-bye Favorite European Portraits: Hello Euro is also about vanishing icons - monetary units of old Europe. Decorated with portraits of the great people, these national currencies are truly masterpieces of art. Now out of business, these antiquated bank notes are used to create new art objects in an effort to restore some of their value. The installation covers the transition from the old monetary units as it blends into the use of the single European currency known as the Euro.

Who else if not an artist who will care about the world's concerns including unsolved political conflicts such as the conflict between Russia and Japan. The artists have found an unexpected solution for what has affected them personally. Thanks to a grant from the Japan Foundation, the artists went to Japan bringing with them three pounds of rocks and a map of the disputed northern islands. Putting rocks on a map of the Kuril Islands, they symbolically returned a part of Russia to Japan and signed their own peace agreement.

In 2002, at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, a retrospective exhibition of Cherkashins' work will be held. Since even the most important Russian museums are not able to supply their exhibits with catalogs, the artists must take this responsibility. Any collector purchases the Cherkashins' works until the end of this year will be included in the catalogues list of sponsors.

Collections: The Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Fine Art Santa Fe, NM; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Zimmerly Art Museum, NJ; Museum am Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, Germany; The Ransoum Humanities Research Center, Austin, TX; Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN; The World Bank, Washington DC; the Cultural Art Foundation of Russia; the Ford Foundation, Moscow; The Kolodzei Art Foundation, USA; The Collection of Olga Hirshhorn, Washington DC; Shadai Gallery, Tokyo; The Pacific Ocean and The Niagara Falls.

Valera and Natasha Cherkashin have given lectures about their art at the following institutions: Princeton University, NJ; Columbia University, NY; Harvard Club of New York City; The Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center, DC; NYU; International House of Japan, Tokyo; Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics; Tokyo University; Vassar College, NJ; The Swarthmore College, PA; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM; The School of Visual Arts, NY; The Goldsmith University, London UK; St. Claire's College, Oxford UK; USC; SFSU; The Art Academy of Cincinnati, OH; Rochester University, NJ; Cosmos Club, Washington DC and The University of Maryland.

The Exhibition will be on view from November 30 to December 17, 2001
Tuesday-Friday 12 - 5 PM

55 John Street 14 Floor
Tel (212) 744-5168