Image Diplomacy investigates the specific functions of the image in the system of political culture. The project intends to bring to light certain historic aspects of constructing the political-imaginary of the 20th century through exhibition strategies and the photographic medium, and to draw conclusions for the present day.
The research is based on materials from an archive, located in Milan, containing photographic prints and films sent by the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, founded in the USSR in 1925, to the countries of Western Europe. The aim of this intervention by the “Soviet exhibition complex” was to represent socialist modernity and disseminate a positive and controlled image of the USSR and Soviet life during the period of the Cold War.
The main concern of Vladislav Shapovalov’s research is the cultural and visual mechanics behind the formulation of political imaginations, immanent to different societies in different historical periods, through the use of exhibition strategies and photography. Although the project is historically grounded, it is concerned less with fathoming how things actually were and more with how they appear in retrospect. It aims to rediscover and rescue the past but not for nostalgic reasons. The goal is to blast holes in established western interpretations of the twentieth century, freeing up new perspectives that allow for critical reappropriations of its legacy, and reflections on the current interplay between images, politics and society.
The working period in Büchsenhausen will continue Shapovalov’s ongoing research and set up a discursive laboratory aimed towards the future production of a documentary film.
Vladislav Shapovalov (*1981, Rostov-on-Don, Russia) is an artist and researcher living and working in Milan and Moscow. He was a member of the art-group Radek Community from 1999-2007. Since 2008 he has been working independently on projects that focus on rethinking images, cultural artifacts and the construction of narratives as a way to construe and analyze geopolitical configurations. In 2016/17, Shapovalov took part in the Fellowship Program for Art and Theory in Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen with support from the City of Innsbruck. He is currently preparing his first solo exhibition Image Diplomacy in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (as from 17.11.2017), in which the film of the same name as well as the installation produced in Büchsenhausen, I Left My Heart in Rhodesia (2017), will be shown among other things. A further solo exhibition by Vladislav Shapovalov will take place as from the beginning of December 2017 at ar/ge kunst in Bolzano.
Recent exhibitions include Atlas [of the ruins] of Europe, curated by Julia Morandeira Arrizabalaga and José Riello, CentroCentro, Madrid, 2016; Fear. The Origin of the State, curated by Fedor Blašák and Christian Kobald, Nová synagóga / Kunsthalle Žilina, Slovakia, 2015; The School of Kyiv. Kyiv Biennial, curated by Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schollhammer, Kyiv, 2015; Sources Go Dark, curated by Valerio Borgonuovo and Silvia Franceschini, Futura Center for Contemporary Art, Prague, 2015.
In the context of the Fellowship Program for Art and Theory 2016-17 at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen in Innsbruck, Vladislav Shapovalov published the book Image Diplomacy (2020).