Gropius Bau
Exhibition poster “AES+F. The Trilogy – Video art from Russia”
Exhibition poster “AES+F. The Trilogy – Video art from Russia”

AES+F. The Trilogy

Video art from Russia

Curator Olga Sviblova

On the occasion of the Year of Russia in Germany the Martin-Gropius-Bau presents a video trilogy which the artists’ group AES+F from Moscow started in the year 2005 and completed in 2011. The work consists of the three titles: The Last Riot (2005/2007), The Feast of Trimalchio (2009) and Allegoria Sacra [Sacred Allegory] (2011). The work is being presented as a trilogy for the first time in Germany.

Part 1: Hell

The first part of the trilogy corresponds to Hell, the images of which come from Baroque paintings and video games. The Last Riot represented Russia at the 2007 Biennale in Venice. The work caused a sensation and was widely discussed. Snow-covered mountains are contrasted with desolate beaches, neon-coloured dragons sit on drilling rigs, airplanes crash together without exploding, and a group of attractive teenagers clash violently with one another with no consequences.

Part 2: Paradise

The Feast of Trimalchio was first presented at the Sydney Biennale in 2009. The work takes reference to the fragmentary “novel” Satyricon by the Roman author Petronius. In it Petronius describes a luxurious, gluttonous and ostentatious feast to which Trimalchio, a former slave who has become inordinately wealthy, invites his guests. The video work, in which 120 persons participated, takes place on an island, a hybrid vacation paradise with a sandy beach, a ski slope and exotic classicistic architecture. Guests of all ages appear as representatives of an international upper class. They are served by an army of mostly African and Asian servants in exotic uniforms. Influenced by post-Soviet iconography, the “masters” and “slaves” sometimes exchange their roles.

Part 3: Purgatory

For this part the members of the group were inspired by Giovanni Bellini’s painting Allegoria Sacra, after which they named the third part of their trilogy. It was presented for the first time at the 4th Moscow Biennale in 2011 and symbolises Purgatory.

Bellini’s painting (in the Uffizi in Florence) shows St. Mary with other figures from Christian and classical mythology: St. Sebastian, a centaur, young children, a Muslim, a man with a sword who might represent the Apostle Paul, two noble ladies, one of whom could be St. Catherine. They are gathered on a terrace looking out over a lake surrounded by hills. Bellini’s work is thought to depict Purgatory on the banks of the Styx or Lethe. There the souls await Judgement Day. AES+F transport the painting into a futuristic cyberspace. The figures are passengers at an international airport.


AES was founded as a group in 1987 by the concept architects Tatiana Arzamasova and Lev Evzovich and the designer Evgeny Svyatsky. In 1995 they were joined by the photographer Vladimir Fridkes. AES+F work at the intersection of photography, video art and digital technology. For more than ten years their works have been featured at festivals around the world, including ARS Electronica (Linz), Mediacity Seoul and Video Zone (Tel Aviv) as well as the Biennales in Adelaide, Gwangju, Istanbul, Lille, Melbourne, Sydney, Taipei, Toronto, Moscow and Venice. Their works are found in the collections of some of the most important European museums, including the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the Tate Modern (London) and the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).


AES+F: The Liminal Space. Trilogy
Verlag Seltmann Printart, Lüdenscheid
172 pages, 160 illustrations, German/English
€ 15

Organizer Berliner Festspiele. An exhibition of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow.
Made possible by the Institute for Culture and Education of the City of Moscow.
With the generous support of Triumph Gallery.

Tickets & Dates

29 September to 3 December 2012


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