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Dmitry Ozerkov, head curator of contemporary art, resigns from Hermitage
Dmitry Ozerkov, the head curator of contemporary art at St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage, has resigned from his position after 22 years of working at Russia’s celebrated art museum.
Among the curatorial projects overseen by Ozerkov while at the Hermitage were the 2014 art-biennial Manifesta 10 and a controversial exhibition of the Belgian artist Jan Fabre, “The Knight of Despair, Beauty’s Warrior.”
In an Instagram post, Ozerkov explained that he made the decision to leave the Hermitage at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:
After Russia sent its forces into Ukraine, dialogue and respect lost their meaning in Russia; news gave way to propaganda that says nothing about the war crimes against civilians, of which the Russian armed forces are being accused. As a Russian citizen, I considered myself guilty of this disgrace, sharing the opinion of others.
Since March 2022, Ozerkov set out to do nothing “in today’s Russia or for it.” At the Hermitage, he delegated his curatorial responsibilities to others. He also left the Art and Science program run by the ITMO university, as well the Ziferhaus multimedia gallery and St. Petersburg’s gubernatorial city council for culture.
Ozerkov made up his mind to resign from the Hermitage and leave Russia after the museum’s Director Mikhail Pyotrovsky gave his June 22 interview to Rossiyskaya Gazeta. In that interview, Pyotrovsky stated that “we’re all militarists and imperialists.” When speaking of the Hermitage’s recent exhibitions abroad, its director remarked:
Our latest foreign exhibitions are simply a powerful cultural offensive, a “special operation” if you like. There’s a lot of people who do not like it. But we continue to advance. And no one can stop our offensive.
In reference to pre-war exhibitions in Ukraine, Pyotrovsky repeated that this, too, was “our ‘special operation’, a big cultural offensive.”
Explaining his resignation from the compromised institution, Ozerkov wrote: “I left because I don’t intend to have anything in common with today’s Russia.” He added that he salutes anyone to whom an “exodus” has become “the only possible escape from the given situation.”
“Russia has displaced all of us who wanted good things for its culture,” he concluded.
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