Marat Guelman was handed an eviction notice to clear out of his rented exhibition space in Moscow’s Winzavod art centre by 5 November 2015. He was served the notice on 20 October 2015, just two days after he hosted an auction to help 12 people who were imprisoned for participating in a 2012 protest against Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency, The Moscow Times reported.
The notice claims that Guelman was behind one month’s rent, though his accountant informed the owners that was not the case. After some negotiations and a new agreement that the premises would only be used for hosting exhibitions, Guelman, according to his Facebook account, signed the new agreement, but received a reply an hour later to vacate the premises.
According to an interview with Izvestia newspaper, Sofia Trotsenko, the centre’s director, said that the eviction decision was made because Guelman was planning to use the space for reasons other than exhibiting art, namely a “Montenegrin emigration centre.”
Guelman denied the claim and told the Moscow Times that one of the exhibition’s sponsors is indeed a consultation centre because the main programme focuses on introducing Balkan art, but that “the gallery has always had sponsors.”
The gallery owner does not plan on reopening his gallery, saying that “it’s not a good time to start anything new in Moscow.”
Guelman posted on Facebook that such a thing had happened to him before when he hosted an exhibit about the destruction of Moscow in the same centre, but that time when he wrote about it in the media, the centre “backed down.” Now it’s different and happening “more frenziedly.”
No stranger to controversy
In 2014, Russian orthodox activists attacked the exhibition ‘Censorship-Shlu-ha-ha’ being held in Guelman’s gallery in the same Winzavod art centre. An installation was damaged, the activists were not prosecuted, and Guelman soon made the decision to move to Montenegro to set up art ventures there.
In 2013, Guelman was dismissed as the director of the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art – a museum he founded – after backing Vasily Slonov’s controversial ‘Welcome! Sochi 2014’ exhibit. Censors deemed that the exhibit ridiculed the then-upcoming Winter Olympics and Stalin.
The exhibit was first on display during a cultural festival organised by Guelman, which was closed by Russian authorities, after which the gallery owner displayed the works at the Perm Museum. Authorities also raided his offices at the museum.
» The Moscow Times – 28 October 2015
Russian Gallery Owner Evicted After Hosting Auction for Political Prisoners
» Artsfreedom.org – 1 September 2015
Russia: Art exhibition attacked and vandalised
» Artsfreedom.org – 24 June 2013
Russia: Exhibition closed by authorities, gallery curator dismissed