Moscow Artists Evicted En Masse from State-Owned Studios

The Moscow KremlinPhoto via: Russian Guide Tours
The Moscow Kremlin
Photo via: Russian Guide Tours

The Moscow Artists Union has claimed that local artists are being evicted from studios and workshops provided for them by the government, despite having been told that their free leases would be renewed through 2025, the Art Newspaper reports.

The Union has started a petition asking the city’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, to stop the seizure of their spaces.

In 2000, then Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov issued a directive stating that the ownership of properties would be transferred for 25 years, free of charge, to a number of artists’ groups so they could use them as studios. The groups included the Moscow Artists Union and the Union of Russian Artists.

But the Department of City Property resisted the directive, an attitude which led to several lawsuits. On September 10, the city cancelled all previous studio agreements and started sealing up the properties.

“These are intolerable conditions,” Konstantin Khudyakov, president of the Creative Union of Artists of Russia, told TAN. “People received these studios during the Soviet era. In many cases they just found and repaired these abandoned premises themselves.”

And yet, the Union has found some unexpected opponents. According to TAN, the muscovite artist and curator Anatoly Osmolovsky has expressed his agreement with the actions of the Department of City Property.

“Art has to live on its own, without the State!” Osmolovsky wrote on a social media platform, according to TAN. “It is only worthwhile helping young artists. If an artist is mature and cannot pay his rent, why is he still an artist?” he continued.

The Department of City Property is yet to make a public statement.

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