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Annetta Kapon ‘85 Fine Arts, Moscow

Dec 16, 2013
Spotlight Category: Alumni
Graduate Fine Arts Assistant Chair and Professor Annetta Kapon spent several days at Moscow’s National Center for Contemporary Art for the exhibition and conference “In Transition Russia,” in 2008.
 
We had a lovely Soviet-type apartment with two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and bath, but the toilet was outside the apartment. During the day we spent some time in Red Square, the Kremlin, and Lenin’s mausoleum, and had tea in GUM, the famous shopping mall.Our flight from Moscow to Ekaterinburg was four hours late, so when we arrived we were taken directly to the Ural Gorky University where we gave talks about our work to the students of visual studies. The conversation afterwards was more about how things are in the U.S. than about our work. All of this was done though an interpreter, who was one of the students.
 
At the conference, “In Transition: Cultural Identities in the Age of Transnational and Transcultural Flux,” I presented my work, and other presentations focused on issues such as a critique of multiculturalism as official ideology, the new post-Soviet citizen identity, and gender citizenship. For me the highlight was going to lunch in the student cafeteria with the graduate women students from the Germanic Languages department, who had simultaneously translated the conference talks. I wanted to find out about what it’s like to grow up in a post-Soviet era, where/ how they live, etc.
 
Between 1924 and 1991, Ekaterinburg was known as Sverdlovsk, after the Bolshevik leader Yakov Sverdlov. We stayed in the very nice Central Hotel for four nights. My most vivid memory will be of the suffocating heat in the room. Every indoor space in Russia, including the university, is heated to 80 degrees. Outside: 20-30 degrees. On our last day in Ekaterinburg, we were taken on a tour of the city’s major monuments: the War Memorial, popularly known as the Black Tulip, and the famous “Church on the Blood,” on the site where the last Tsar, Nicholas Romanov, was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Tsar Nicholas has now been canonized by the Orthodox Church, and is the object of renewed popular nostalgia and affection.