Critics’ Picks

Yakov Kazhdan, Focus Groups, 2010, still from a black-and-white video, 5 minutes.

Yakov Kazhdan, Focus Groups, 2010, still from a black-and-white video, 5 minutes.

Moscow

Yakov Kazhdan

GMG Gallery
2A/1 Leont'evskiy Pereulok
November 1–December 3, 2010

On entering Yakov Kazhdan’s latest exhibition, visitors encounter Art Delivers People (all works 2010), a spoof on Richard Serra’s seminal 1973 video Television Delivers People. In Serra’s work, scrolling texts construct a critique of television as a mechanism of social manipulation. Kazhdan's piece reiterates Serra’s texts but with crucial substitutions, making some of the sentences about not television but art. (One phrase reads ART DEFINES THE WORLD SO AS TO NOT THREATEN THE STATUS QUO.) Yet the artist critiques his own practice as well; in an adjacent room is Discussion Table, a wooden pie chart of the exhibition’s budget.

On the second floor of the gallery, Kazhdan continues his explorations of the art world and consumerism via the video Focus Groups. Here, the artist reenacts an experiment conducted by the psychologist and marketing expert Ernest Dichter, who studied group psychotherapy. In the work, diverse groups of people are asked about their perceptions and opinions about certain products, linking consumerism to contemporary art. This, like the rest of the works in Kazhdan’s show, attempts to show how the art world functions just like many other businesses, particularly those dedicated to entertainment.