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Image Diplomacy
Vladislav Shapovalov
16.11.2017 – 31.12. 2018 
AVTO, Istanbul with a film screening hosted by SALT Beyoğlu on 19 December 2019
curated by Sarp Renk Özer

Image Diplomacy is a research project and a body of work. It is focused on the use of exhibition as a medium and is looking at the cultural and political heritage of the XXth century.

The project was initiated after the discovery in Italy of an archive of portable photographic expositions on the most diverse aspects of life in the Soviet Union: from domestic and public life, technology and architecture, to women's emancipation and achievements in space exploration.

The folders were sent to Europe during the cultural Cold War in order to promote the image of a modern, emancipating, internationalist and alternative project to that of Western capitalism.

These exhibitions could be assembled autonomously and at low cost by simply following the instructions and technical drawings. Thus the idea of a modernity within anyone’s reach was proclaimed not only through the reproducibility of photography and film, but also by the display systems, transforming the exhibition into the the chronotope of political subjectivation.
Although historically grounded, Shapovalov’s project is concerned less with how things actually were than with how they appear in retrospect. The aim is to blast holes in established interpretations of the political imaginary of twentieth century and free up new lines of sight that allow for critical reappropriations of its legacy, and reflections on the current state of relationships between images, politics and society.

Image Diplomacy
deals with history and the materials from which it is made. Dedicated to the re-composition of facts and narratives considered obsolete or forgotten, it ruminates over the question: Why do we look at the past?

The project grows richer with each new iteration and AVTO is glad to present a new piece produced by the artist specially for the exhibition in Istanbul. The new work documents a portable 16mm film projector and a Moon globe sent from USSR to Italy. The artefacts of Soviet “soft power” aimed to expand the horizon of possibilities and render the projections of potential as real, be it a space travel, another kind of society or cinematic utopia of moving images. Placed in a dreamlike setting the objects reveal the conjunction of travel and vision unique of our time.