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Cultural Fact

Russian contemporary art

Russian art and artistic life are mainly known for the imperial architecture, the classic music and literature and the Soviet modern art. More, Russia is often seen as a country where contemporary culture doesn’t exist. It couldn’t be more wrong. Indeed the Russian contemporary artistic life is rich, diversified and of high quality! However it’s true that Russian contemporary is most of the time a bit hidden. Why? First because it rarely (and very sadly) goes out of the country due to a clichés and low interest from foreigners (bad). Second because Russian contemporary art isn’t about gigantism or pop art (yes I despised Jeff Koons). But missing Russian contemporary art is missing what Russia really is nowadays and it’s staying on the surface of a buzzing society.

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Of course, to better know the Russian contemporary art, you can go in well-known museums and galleries. Among them, the best are the Garage Museum and Winzavod gallery in Moscow, and the Erarta Museum of St Petersburg!

Starting with the Erarta Museum in St Petersburg, because this one is my favorite (and trust me I know about art). The Erarta Museum is the most important museum of contemporary art in Russia despite being opened in 2010. It displays more than 2300 objects d’art. But to me the most important is its philosophy. Indeed, the philosophy of the Museum is to combine the elements of the participation of the visitor with the preference given to talented artists over popular artists. Finally a museum of contemporary art that gives the way to talent over popularity!

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In Moscow the two museums that deal with contemporary art are the Garage Museum and the Winzavod gallery. The first one is a well-known and good quality museum in the heart of Gorky Park. It’s rather small but often has good exhibitions. Even if, to be honest, you need to be careful when choosing as some of them are more modern art than contemporary and so a bit… different.

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The Winzavod gallery is different (and free). It exhibits contemporary art project in a big industrial building. You’ll therefore meet young artists, often a bit underground and discover many styles and personalities!

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But if you want to discover the Russian contemporary art, the best remains to explore, walk by the streets, go to gallery openings and find the doors to the underground. Good luck!

 

Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!

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Cultural Fact

Victory Day in Russia (9th of May)

In Russia, the end of World War II and the defeat of nazism isn’t celebrated on the 8th of May but on the 9th of May. Indeed, when the armistice was signed between the Allied and the Nazi leadership, it was already May 9th in Russia. Nowadays, the 9th of May is one of the most important day in Russia and in the lives of many Russians (if not the most important). Indeed, if in Western Europe the end of World War II is celebrated through official ceremonials and bank holiday, in Russia it became a real commitment for the people to celebrate the USSR victory over nazism and the sacrifice of millions of Soviets.

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The Victory Day became an official celebration and non-working day in 1965. Since then military parades have been held almost every five or 10 years to celebrate the different anniversary of the nazi defeat. Progressively the victory of the Great Patriotic War has been erected a founding myth for the USSR…and more recently to the Russian international power and strength. The military parade on the Red Square became an annual unmissable event in 2008. It aims, as almost every military parade across the world, at spreading patriotism among the population and showing to the world the military strength of the country.

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But what makes the Victory Day celebrations in Russia so special is what follows. Indeed, many countries can brag and show their newest military toys in city centers. But what is really unique and impressive in Russia is the Immortal’s Regiment. After the military parade, thousands of Russian march on Moscow’s biggest boulevard towards the Red Square, handling picture of their fallen relatives. Even more than 70 years later, and because the Soviet Union lost about 27 billions people during World War II, Russians continue to mourn their death and remember their sacrifice. The atmosphere there is unique: a mix of sadness, happiness, mourning, gratefulness and joy!

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Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!

 

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Top 8: What to do in Moscow in May

May is a wonderful month in Russia. Mainly because the Sun is finally out. So when you live in Moscow, May is always like entering Heaven after a long period in Hell (super cold Hell). You finally leave cold, snow, ice, and slippery roads to welcome sun, heat, colors, flowers, ice-cream and music. In May Moscow is back to life as Muscovites spend all their time outside after being kept inside for 8 months. But as a result the city knows a huge amount of new things to do, try and experience. A bit lost? Follow us!

 

 

Velobike are coming back on April 25th! I know it’s not exactly May but this is a great news and May will be the perfect occasion to celebrate it. Moscow offers the opportunity to rent bikes for short or longer period of time for really cheap and just let it back in any of the 400 stations. As in the last years, the first 30 minutes are free of charge. So on May sunny days you must rent one and explore Moscow center and parks.

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  • City celebrations: 1st and 9th of May

In addition to the sun and heat (well for Moscow’s standards of course), there are two main reasons to gather all in the city center in May: the 1st and 9th of May celebrations! The 1st of May is Labor day. As a result all Muscovites are enjoying their holiday exploring the city and its colorful parks, eating cheap but exquisite ice-creams. Trust them, they know what’s good, and you should do the same!

But the most impressive celebration is by far the 9th of May. And not only because you can see the Russian Army favourite toys on the Red Square. To me the most impressive thing is what follows the military parade and aviation show. What catch me out of breath each year is the gathering of thousands of Russians in the city center, walking on the Tverskaya to the Kremlin with portraits of their fallen parents and flags. Along with music, old films, food and drinks, it creates a unique atmosphere!

Tips: to avoid the crowd, check for the rehearsals!

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More than a classic Middle Age festival for rednecks or fanatics, the St George Knights Tournaments is a very high quality world-known show and exhibition that worth the visit. Held in the stunning and Unesco registered park of Kolomenskoye the St George Knights Tournament attracts each year thousands of visitors and professional knights from all over the world. During 3 days, knights will compete in different categories, traditional dances and balls will be organised and visitors will be able to eat and drink special dishes and drinks coming straight from the Ritsari period. Careful though, workshops are organised for children and you do not want to be stabbed in your sleep…nor beaten by them the next time you plays “swords”.

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Speaking of parks, Gorky is a famous one that we speak a lot about (and it’s one you should definitely explore by velobike). But on the 19th and 20th of May, Gorky will host the Polytech festival. A great opportunity to discover and learn more on the last technological improvements. Though as an educational festival of science, the Polytech festival is made for the pleasure of all. A great way to spend a sunny afternoon and raise smart kiddos…or just appear as even more intelligent at your next family dinner.

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This one may be for without-child-adults or for I-have-a-super-mother-that-babysit-my-monsters-adults. On May 26th at 6pm, the famous Fantomas rooftop is reopening! Located in the very heart of Moscow, this rooftop bar and club is a must-do for party animals. With the finest program, great cocktails and a stunning view on Moscow, the Fantomas is definitely on our list of what to do in May… so lets meet their on the 26!

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With the Sun and heat (Moscow standards), walking accross the Russian Capital in May is more than a pleasure. That’s why Tsar Visit organises walking tours of Moscow everyday! You’ll discover some famous parts of Moscow as the Arbat district and the stunning Christ the Savior cathedral. So take comfy shoes, sunglasses and prepare your camera!

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Tsar Visit organises a tour of the Bolshoy backstages. Why in May? Because the season is about to end and it would be a shame to miss this opportunity! The symbol of Moscow and Russian art, and a theatre renowned around the world, the Bolshoy Theatre is a fascinating part of Moscow life. Explore behind the scenes of the sumptuous theatre that has presenting the greatest ballets, operas, and concerts since 1776. You’ll discover the historic stage and maybe be able to watch the rehearsals!

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May is the perfect occasion to do a guided tour of the marvelous Kolomenskoye Estate! The ancient domain of the Moscow princes, and then the Czars of Russia from the 14th century, Kolomenskoye Park is a greenspace where the Museum and the Church of the Ascension, the first church made of stones in an octagonal shape in Russia and classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site, are nested. This is a relaxing and instructive excursion in the heart of Russian nature.

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Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!