Art collective Provmyza has won this year’s Innovation award, Russia’s equivalent of the Turner Prize, for their contemporary opera about a fatal car crash. Marevo was first performed in July 2012 at Artspace Arsenal in Nizhny Novgorod, a city on the Volga east of Moscow, before taking to the stage for a second time in the capital last month. It was the first opera from Provmyza, whose two members, Galina Myznikova and Sergey Provorov, had previously only ever worked with video art and film, a genre that has ensured them a regular slot at festivals around the world.
In recent years, contemporary opera has grown in popularity in Russia. Critics are talking of a renaissance period for bold, experimental new works. This year will see the opening of Nosferatu, a contemporary opera composed by Dmitry Kurlyandsky and produced by Jannis Kounellis, the Greek artist who helped found Arte Povera. In 2012 alone, theatre director Vasily Barkhatov produced four new operas written by Russian composers, in collaboration with the Laboratory of Contemporary Opera, which was set up at the behest of the Ministry of Culture to encourage contemporary opera in Russia.
The Innovation prize is intended to promote Russian contemporary visual artists. The committee awards prizes and distributes 1.5m rubles to artists in five categories: work of art, curator’s project, theory and criticism, new generation and regional project. A special award is also presented to an artist who has made an outstanding contributiob to contemporary art projects.
This year, the curatorial prize went to Yaroslava Bubnova for The Eye Sees Itself, the main project of the 2nd Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art; the award for theory, critique and art was given to Elena Petrovskaya for Unnamed Community; the regional prize was awarded to Ilya Dolgov for Herbarium; and the new generation award was given to Ivan Plush for The Process of Passage. The special prize, which is supported by the Stella Art Foundation in Moscow, was awarded to street artist Timofei Radya for his project Above All. Eric Boulatov, one of the founders of the Moscow conceptual school of art, was awarded 600,000 roubles for creative his contribution to the development of modern art.
An exhibition of shortlisted works is currently on show at Moscow’s National Centre for Contemporary Art from 21 March to 5 May.