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"Utopia Saved", 2020. Installation view at the Manege Central Exhibition Hall. Photo: Vasily Bulanov
Artists' News

Watch the Video Lee Bul: Utopia Saved

4 January 2021

Lee Bul’s work provides a true insight into contemporary art in South Korea and Asia as a whole. Her work has received widespread acclaim around the world, with solo exhibitions taking place at leading museums and contemporary art centres in New York, Philadelphia, Sidney, Toronto, Marseille, Bern, Tokyo, Seoul, London and Berlin. She has also twice taken part in the Venice Biennale, in 1999 and 2019. 

"Lee Bul’s longstanding fascination with utopia entered a new phase in the first decade of the 21st century, when she started creating architectural sculptures and drawings inspired by Constructivism and Russian avant-garde art and architecture. The artist uses icons and tropes from utopian modernism, transforming, allegorising, and juxtaposing them in her own creative works. She engages with utopian modernism with empathy and originality, with critique and imagination. "Utopia Saved" is Lee Bul’s first solo exhibition to be held in Russia, and for the first time presents her post-2005 works alongside the Russian art that inspired them." 

Sunjung Kim and SooJin Lee, exhibition curators 

The multifaceted work of Lee Bul has in many respects defined the development trajectory of modern Asian Art and has also had a significant influence on the modern artistic process all around the world. Preparations for the exhibition in Manege have been underway for about two years. Lee Bul has been quite active in all aspects of the project, from developing the initial idea and selecting the works to preparing the catalogue and coming up with architectural solutions for the exhibition. The project will also focus on the creative visual dialogue between Lee Bul and the Russian avant-garde. Included in the latter are works by artists Kazimir Malevich, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Aleksandra Ekster, architects Ivan Leonidov and Iakov Chernikhov, scientist and thinker Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, and others. 

Various Russian museums and artistic institutions have also made a significant contribution to the exhibition. Among the participating institutions are the Russian Academy of Arts Academic Research Museum, the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, the Bakhrushin State Theatre Museum, the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow, the RF Ministry of Defence’s Central Museum of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, the Yakov Chernikhov International Charitable Architectural Foundation, the Vologda Regional Picture Gallery, the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, the Perm State Art Gallery, the Pskov-Izborsk Integrated Museum and Reserve, and the Imperial Porcelain Factory. 

Manege will present a rich programme of events to run alongside the exhibition. This will aim to draw additional interest from visitors, and to cast more light on contemporary art and culture in South Korea, as well as on their ties with Russian culture and the avant-garde. 

A dual-language catalogue has been prepared. It includes articles by Russian and foreign experts written especially for the publication that explore various aspects of Lee Bul’s art. Manege’s publication programme partner is Free Artists – an Autonomous non profit organisation for the development of art and culture. 

The exhibition is organised by Manege in cooperation with the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and forms a key part of the Year of Cultural Exchange between Russia and South Korea (2020), which is taking place to mark the 30-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

Partners: The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, The Russian Culture Foundation, The St Petersburg Committee for Culture, The IX St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, The Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE). 

Curator: Sunjung Kim 

Co-Curator: SooJin Lee 

Project Initiator and Director: Anna Kirikova 

With the support of: Belmond Grand Hotel Europe 

E-tickets can be purchased via for a specific time slot.

Watch the Video Lee Bul: Utopia Saved
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