A Joyful Archipelago was an exhibition showing works of ten Russian-born female artists, living in London and New York.
Each of these artists has already made a name on their own through winning numerous awards and participating in various group and solo shows, however for this exhibition they sought to come together as a collective with a goal to produce their reflection on the events in Russia today. This exhibition came at a very interesting point in the Russian history and was the first show of new female Russian art of that scale in the UK.
A starting point for the exhibition was a semi-fictional account of a closed town N. Closed administrative-territorial formations or “closed cities” begun forming in USSR from 1940s onwards as bases for military, industrial or scientific facilities. Those cities had no names, were not shown on maps and access to them was not allowed without proper authorisation. The unique feature of N was the fact that from the very beginning a ban of all mass media communications has been implied in the town, building a wall of communicational isolation around it. The isolation made the residents of N focus on their private self-contained life, where other means of communications have been invented for internal use only.
The exhibition served as an investigation of the role of community activities in an individual-centred society. The artists explored life in places with authoritarian regime, world’s history of formation of opposition and governments’ control of mass media.