Crisis Brings About a Revival of Public Lectures
- By Ksenia Galouchko
- Sep. 28 2009 00:00
Moscow nightlife has changed over the last year. You can still find alcohol-drenched debauchery, if that is what you want. But now you can also increasingly opt to go and hear a lecture on constructivism or art history.
“The financial crisis made people reconsider their values and use of time, and people began searching for alternative ways of spending their free time,” said Danil Perushev, of the web site Theoryandpractice.ru, which was created to help people find upcoming lectures and talks in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“Moscow always provided many lecture options, but the only way people could find out about them was through word of mouth or through professional circles. We — four friends — decided to create a web site where people could share lecture information with other users,” Perushev said.
The web site is a wonderful tool for finding what is happening lecture-wise in Moscow. A glance Sunday shows information on a dozen or so lectures including a talk by Vladimir Dolgov, head of Google Russia, how to photograph nature by Chris Jones, a National Geographic photographer and a lecture on the Christianization of England.
Before, lectures were mainly limited to museums. The Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum have long held lectures on art history, but now you can find talks on fashion, literature, ecology and economics, and increasingly at trendy restaurants and modern art centers like Winzavod and Garage.
The Tsvet Nochi cafe holds film screenings, lectures and question-and-answer sessions with prominent Russian actors, journalists and film critics. At 1,000 rubles, it is not cheap, but the cafe does bring in good names. Recent guests include writer Tatyana Tolstaya and actor Valentina Gaft. Director Nikolai Dostal talked about his recent award-winning film “Petya On the Way to Heaven” on Sunday after a screening.
“Until recent times, cultural knowledge was unfashionable in this city,” said Dmitry Barsenkov, who attended a lecture on photography at the Bubbles cafe. “To attract young people to cultural events, you need to combine them with quality marketing, such as hosting them at trendy cafes.”
Still, the lecture at Bubbles, 20 minutes long and read lifelessly from a piece of paper, was not one of the better of the lectures on in Moscow. Experts say that the quality of lectures, like at a university, can vary dramatically.
Garage has regular lectures and is currently hosting a five week long series of free lectures and film screenings on Soviet avant-garde architecture.
Large crowds have attended many of the lectures, which cover topics such as Soviet workers’ clubs and their architecture, and organizers recommend coming at least 40 minutes before a lecture in order to get a seat.
The next lecture in the series on the Narkomfin building will take place Oct 3.
Other recommended places include the British School of Design, which holds one-day open lectures a few times a year. Previous speakers have included Mark Delaney, Nokia’s design director, and designer Denis Simachev.
The school also has master classes for more in-depth study.
“Master classes are a great opportunity for working people to get up to speed on their interests or discover a new hobby over the course of a week instead of spending money and time on a second higher degree,” said Irina Chebutar, a student at the British School of Design.
The Polytechnic Museum is one of the most famous places for lectures in the city. Recent lectures include “Economic Crisis in Russia: Accident or Inevitable Outcome,” “Neurosis: Reasons and Cures,” “Philosophy and Religion of the New Age” and “Man and Nature in Russian Art.”
Tretyakov Gallery. 10 Lavrushinsky Pereulok. Metro Tretyakovskaya. Tel. 499-238-1378. www.tretyakovgallery.ru/ru/education/lectures.
The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. 14 Ulitsa Volkhonka. Tel. 697-1546. www.museum.ru/gmii/
British school of Design. 15 Akademika Tupoleva Naberezhnaya, Bldg. 15. Tel. 741-3980 www.britishdesign.ru/masterclasses.