The Russian artist Anastasia Khoroshilova (born in 1978 in Moscow, lives in Berlin and Moscow) completed her studies in 2004 at the University of Duisburg-Essen under Prof. Jörg Sasse. Since then, the artist who originally wanted to study photojournalism has already carried out numerous solo exhibition projects, for instance, at the Sacharov Centre in Moscow (2006), at the Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato, at Kunsthalle Lingen, at the Museum of Modern Art in Moscow, and in particular her worka were seen in the context of collateral projects at the 54 Biennale di Venezia. Kunsthaus Baselland is delighted to present her project Starie Novosti (Old News) shown there to the Swiss audience for the first time as part of the Culturescapes Festival.
Starie Novosti (Old News) deals with the terrorist attack on a school in the town of Beslan (Beslan is a small town in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania in Russian Northern Caucasus), in which Chechen and Ingush terrorists captured more than 1120 children and adults between the 1st and 3rd of September 2004, and 331 of these hostages died according to official reports. Against the political backdrop of the struggle for independence of some Caucasian republics, the terrorists ostensibly pursued the goal of exchanging the lives of mothers and children against that of imprisoned rebels. The complex historical background of this act, however, also includes the deportations of Chechen and Ingush Muslims under Stalin since 1944 and the takeover of their settlements by the Orthodox Christian Ossetians. When the Ingush wanted to take possession of their houses again in the 1950s, disputes arose, leading to open conflicts during the 1980s in the Soviet time, when the terrorists were born. The unprecedented violence and cruelty to women and children that kept the world on tenterhooks during the attack in Beslan, was often referred in the media as the last terrorist breach of a taboo.
In her work, Anastasia Khoroshilova questions how the media deals with human disaster, but is also interested in the fast pace, forgetfulness and the ephemeral nature of such historical events. While the events were presented in all the TV news channels and radio stations worldwide during the hostage crisis and even the smallest development was broadcast to the world, today its remembrance has largely sunk into oblivion. In contrast to the annual commemoration of the 9/11 attacks in the media, the events in Beslan have become a selective historical event ‹somewhere far away›. How is history created? Which part of the individual memory becomes part of the collective memory and what in turn finds entry into the so-called official historiography? How long does the compassion stirred up by the media last? Questions like these form the background of Anastasia Khoroshilova’s installation that includes nine photographic light boxes mounted in transport chests, which show nearly life-size portraits of mothers who either were themselves victims of the kidnapping and/or lost their children in the terrorist attacks. The portraits are juxtaposed with televised images of the former live broadcasts. The two different pictorial realities point to the widening temporal gap between the state of emergency on the one hand and living with the personal experience on the other. For the exhibition, a new series of photographs is additionally shown that depict the scenic surroundings of Ossetia. The Caucasus was once considered an important leisure resort of the Soviet Union. With the knowledge of the tragedy in Beslan, even the idyllic landscape seems to have lost its innocence.
Text by Sabine Schaschl