Italian-born curator Teresa Iaroccci Mavica is leaving the VAC Foundation in Moscow, the arts organization she co-founded over a decade ago with Leonid Mikhelson, the billionaire owner of Russian mega-producer Novatek. She is also stepping down as director of the Maison de la culture GES-2, the foundation’s sprawling cultural complex designed by Renzo Piano, which opened in December. According to the Moscow Times, she will remain on the board of directors of ACC and work at the foundation’s Venice branch, where she will participate in the staging of “When the Gondola Engines Were Taken to Pieces: A Carnival in four acts ”at the 59th Venice Biennale, scheduled to open in April. The exhibit was one of three that kicked off GES-2 last month, after the opening initially slated for 2019 was necessarily delayed twice, first due to plan revisions and then due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Speculation abounds as to the real reason for the sudden departure of Mavica, whose deputy lawyer Artem Bondarevsky will temporarily replace the foundation as chief executive. Word on the Street is that Mikhelson, whom Mavica met when she criticized her collection in the late 2000s, was unhappy with the negative publicity generated last summer by a massive sculpture of Urs Fischer occupying the promenade in front of the building. Described by an art writer as “art casino’s most expensive shit” when he resided in midtown Manhattan in 2015, the cast aluminum work aroused local dismay, though the city’s mayor eventually declared himself a fan, silencing most of the complainants. It’s also worth noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose politics are said to be linked to Mikhelson, allegedly mocked the complex’s less-than-glamorous origins – one building was previously a Smirnov vodka distillery – as Mikehelson and Mavica drove it. on a tour of GES-2 before it opens.
Mavica, who became a Russian citizen in 2019, is widely known as an avant-garde contemporary art curator, not a political animal. “Politics think about today, and we are here to think about the future. Did you know that more than half of our employees were born after 2000? She said. Art Forumby Valerie Mindlin at the inauguration of GES-2. “This place is about them and what they do with their history.” Moscow Times reported that several staff members had left with Mavica.