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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October - 4 December, 1998

[as of December 1st 1998 the forum has been prolonged - ... open-ended]

Subject:to Forum
Date:Mon, 16 Nov 1998 09:04
Author:Andrey Martynov  []

Dear colleagues,

My name is Andrey Martynov. I am from Novosibirsk, RUSSIA. I am a leader of the project which was started about 1 year ago at the local Regional Gallery as a part of large city Internet program supported by Soros Foundation. The idea of this project was to open a new place for people interested in Art (& all other subjects around this word) so the place was selected taking into account this aim. Several other places were opened before (the Novosibirsk University, Regional Library, Regional Historical Museum, etc.) I was involved in this activity a long time before spending a lot of time to realize this idea.
I had some doubts, to tell the true, with this particular place: administration did not have much serious interest to proposed program thinking only that magic word 'Internet' can bring some money to Museum which is a part of Russian Ministry of culture (local administration) and does not support enough as all other cultural (and all other) institutes in Russia.

So I was thinking about the other place. Although the Gallery is located in the middle of the city (very useful) and has the largest space to show cultural exhibitions in my city.

My project consists of 3 parts:
1) international exchange activity (connections with international museums, artists or just active people from artistic sphere);
2) virtual activity;
3) educational activity.

My experience with (1) was not bad because early before the Center was open at the Gallery (Feb. 1998) I had connections with 2 people interested to realize joint ideas with me: Yuriko Miyoshi (Japan) and Sue Gollifer (UK).
First exhibition took place in April - it was ArCade II. The exhibition was really interesting for cultural community of Novosibirsk. Fortunately we (me and my brother Vladimir) found a sponsor, so it was a bit easier to resolve some small problems (meeting, small posted, some wine for reception, etc.)
Everything was fine except negative reaction of museum administration: I made a step to a territory of old gallery traditions, it was not typical so it was bad (not for people visiting this exhibition). The next exhibition 'Living Faces' from Japan was not supported very much as well (I do not mean money, of course no money). It was my next step for alien kingdom.
It seems people do not like active individuals.
Nevertheless we did it.

Both events were really interesting not only for me and for my brother - believe me.
As a result of collaboration with my new Japanese friends I made another virtual exhibition for a very interesting and beautiful event taking place in Japan:

According to previous negotiations with administration of Kaliningrad Art Gallery we passed both ArCade II and "Living Faces" to this city as 2 separated exhibition inside Kaliningrad-Kenigsberg-Bienial-98. I have visited this exhibition with 3 Japanese artists (2 of them visited Novosibirsk to close their exhibition); and I met Sue Gollifer there again after out first meeting in April.

Being in Moscow on the way to Kaliningrad we visited Pushkin Museum with my Japanese friends. Several prints from 'Living Faces' were selected by museum specialists for collection of Pushkin Museum and Oriental Museum in Moscow. Japanese passed as a gift their prints! And they made another gift to Kalinigrad Art Gallery - about 50 prints of 41 artists!

As another result of this activity a traveling exhibition of folding fans will be organized next year.

So I satisfied very much in (1), less in (2) of my program. (3) - I had a very bad experience talking with directors of all cultural educational institutes of Novosibirsk - nobody understand what they can have (they even did not come to see opportunities, I invited they several times). And atmosphere at the Gallery became worse with the time. My plans were destroyed slowly. I was busy (see above) and had no time for stupid 'king games'.
Nevertheless I made some new plans for Autumn including educational part.

I forgot to say that I am a scientist professionally, so my job at the Gallery was additional one. Almost all people in Russia have 2-3 jobs for survival during last years. After August 1998 with all old laws we need 5-6 now...

Well, I lost my job at the Gallery since September. They have no money - it is the first reason, they do not like me - it is the second one. Nevertheless I hope for future and would like to spread my experience I got during realization of the project for the next year (in different place probably, 'I am not hungry' in that Gallery any more.)

The problem is, the most interesting (for me and all involved people) part of the virtual side of my project can disappear soon. With a lot of doubts and problems( of course they have them, I understand), without any thinking about future they paid for the connection up to the end of this year. Nobody can predict what will be after January 1, 1999.

So friends! If anybody can provide some space for 2 above mentioned virtual exhibitions (it is not so much), please contact me:

Russia has 2 problems: bad roads and fools, people said. Not all people in Russia are fools. We are in difficult period of history but we are open to the world, we are ready to communicate and to work with people from other countries, we can work hard, we can get joint positive results.

The door is open. We must use this opportunity!

Best regards.
Sincerely yours,

Andrey Martynov

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Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, on the use of Internet in the cultural exchange with and between Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America. 12 October - 4 December, 1998

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