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Russian art collective celebrates 20th anniversary

John Varoli, The Art Newspaper

MOSCOW. AES+F, one of Russia's most critically-acclaimed contemporary art groups, is celebrating 20 years together with a retrospective at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (until 3 February). The works on display include the Islamic Series, digital photographs of prominent sites around the world converted into Islamic shrines. These were widely disseminated on the internet after 11 September.

Also on display is the six-minute video Who Wants to Live Forever, which shows an actress playing Princess Diana covered in blood and dancing around a car seat that is a replica of the one in which she died in Paris in 1997.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Tatiana Arzamasova of AES+F said: "We were in London when Princess Diana died and we were impressed by the medieval hysteria, like with a new saint. We wanted to explore what Diana meant to the modern world. She was the victim of a media-driven society, yet at the same time she wanted this fame."

AES+F said that the British art world has avoided showing the video for fear of a backlash. However, it has been displayed at the Kunsthalle Faust in Hanover in 2000, and at Art in General in New York in 1999.

"There was a closed viewing of the video at Royal Holloway [a college of the University of London] in 2004, and the art students and teachers applauded it, but otherwise no English curator has invited us to display the work," says Ms Arzamasova. That 2004 display was organised by Antonio Geusa, a Moscow-based Italian curator of Russian video art.

Meanwhile, the Triumph Gallery in Moscow has announced that the third and final edition of AES+F's The Last Riot was purchased by a private foundation for an undisclosed price; it was then donated to Tate Modern. The Last Riot was shown in the Russian pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale. Last month we revealed that another edition of the video has been acquired by Australian collector David Walsh for display in his new museum under construction in Tasmania.

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