According to Marina Loshak, it is always convenient to keep track of the iconic things of Nina Donis, but for our interview she dressed strictly - in the black jacket of her no less beloved designer Margiela. She jokes that she wants everyone to feel Pushkin is the same being as she is - joyful, not strict. This joy of life is perhaps what really distinguishes her - an amazing, even a little childish interest in everything around: she is ready to talk for hours about every little detail of her favorite projects, even about the properties of concrete in different countries - she always checks it by touch when travels the world.
- Almost a year ago, RBC Style filmed its New Year's video in the Pushkin Museum, which quickly went viral. The editors were often asked later: did the director of the museum know that in the video Alexander Gudkov would be jumping around the halls in a skirt? If this video was filmed in one of the younger Moscow museums, there would be no such questions. Can we say that everything that you do has exactly this mission - to dissuade your audience that the Pushkin Museum is inviolable, unshakable, one that must be respected and feared?
- Yes, absolutely definitely - this is part of my big plan. I do not want to scare anyone, but nevertheless, from time to time I take certain steps that are fraught with risks for the museum and for me. Such steps are taken precisely to make a person feel like in a living museum, and not in a cabinet of curiosities.
Many generations continue to come here, but they change. By the way, I am also a grandmother and would not say that I am in any way very different from a non-grandmother. The living state inside does not depend on age: if you have self-irony, a feeling of modern life, then time has no power over you. And our museum is exactly the same: despite its serious age, it is a young organism.
We must not forget that people look at ancient art through the eyes of modernity. The museum must take into account this new view: it is the space where this view is formed. This is why it is so important to emphasize that the museum is alive. And in a living museum, completely unexpected things can happen: for example, a dancer in a woman's dress may appear, which, by the way, is an example taken from the traditional history of the old theater.
I am sure that nothing decorates the place where art lives as a hero like an ironic look at everything that happens around. This is the attribute of reason and intellect. This approach is important for any museum that wants to be visited and does not want to become a repository.
- What level of provocation is acceptable for you? Do you think you are taking a big risk when you let the marketing department make socks with David, or call on Alexander Brodsky to rebuild your office? A few years ago, such a thing could not have been imagined.
- I very much trust my intuition and can not remember that it ever let me down. But, of course, the mind must necessarily assess the level of danger of each decision, and its possible consequences. I remember how I was worried during the installation of Tsai Guoqiang's exhibition. We understood that this project would cause different opinions. But I was sure of him: I know Tsai well and feel what drives him. He is touching, gentle and loving. Such a person simply cannot be destructive: he carries a different energy and is preoccupied with other things. He is a builder, not a destroyer. This is very important for me: whenever we choose artists, we choose builders. [Tadashi] Kawamata is the same: he builds himself and together with himself a museum, creating those spaces that allow a person to feel lonely in the highest sense of the word,that is, to feel like yourself. The nests with which we filled the building were supposed to help both us and visitors to better feel their own personality, to think about how important it is to preserve it in a world where, in general, there are more crowds than individuals.
© Georgy Kardava
- Several years ago we talked about the Schiele exhibition, and you noted that this is a project about absolute existential loneliness. The story of Picasso and Khokhlova is easily read as a love story, the project of Tsai Guoqiang is about experiencing change and choice. Now - quite interestingly - you presented Kawamata as a project about loneliness, as an experience of your wholeness and separateness. Do you agree that all the large exhibitions of Pushkin in recent years tell about human feelings?
- The wording is very precise: the key [to understanding these projects] is just that. Emotion is the absolute priority in all our designs. The artist's heirs came to the exhibition of Picasso and Khokhlova, among them was Bernard Picasso, the grandson of that very little boy on a horse from one of the paintings, and they cried as they wandered around the exhibition. This is exactly the reaction that we wanted to get: so that you feel what the life of these people was like, what was in it, how much passion, horror, disappointment, love, hatred, selfishness.
Of course, heroes like Picasso happen once in a millennium, but the history of his relationship with Olga Khokhlova is forever. It is understandable to everyone, it is a very human story. Therefore, the second bottom of our exhibition - with documents, photographs, tactile sensations of real human life - is very important. Sometimes we look at museum objects so many times that it is even difficult to feel life in them. And at this exhibition we managed to convey a fresh sensation - incredibly emotional and sensual. Including showing the film.
We needed Cai Guoqiang precisely as a very emotional artist. My favorite part of this huge exhibition is a small lonely kite in the wind just below the ceiling. It is almost invisible, this sign of the artist's presence.
- At the next Venice Biennale, you will present among the artists the work of theater director Dmitry Krymov, who has already shown the performance in your museum. Do you think the border between museum and theater will soon disappear altogether?
- Fine art has become completely different today. Sometimes it becomes even difficult to define what it is. And in our museum so much is happening that all the components of this art are simply forced to live side by side with each other - and be in interaction. Then it will be easier for us: the museum will grow, it will have many different spaces, and each of them will play its own role - as in a theater in a large play with many actors, where each has its own role. If the visitor wants to be in a state of tragedy or drama, he will go to one space, for ease, joy, senseless fermentation and energy - in another. And sometimes you can find everything in one place at once. The most interesting thing that is happening with us now is happening with the future. I live now in 2025, and this is a very joyful state,it fertilizes today.
- The curator of the Hermitage, Arkady Ippolitov, imagines it as an ark, and Jan Fabre saw it as a butterfly. Many visitors were dissatisfied with Tsai Guoqiang's installation of baby carriages in front of the building's façade, because their museum is very clearly associated with this visual image of the façade. How do you perceive Pushkinsky?
- I can't remember any specific image - rather, I think about its quality. Pushkin is a very flexible, viscous, soft creature. That is why when we select architects to work with, we look closely at those who are capable of metamorphosis. To be able to change your identity, while remaining internally very holistic, is generally the property of our museum. Pushkinsky is the bearer of the European spirit in this very sense of the word, from the point of view of expanded consciousness. Sometimes the word "tradition" is equated with a certain framework, but the tradition may be different: an expanded tolerant consciousness is able to better perceive new and better.
We are constantly trying to formulate for ourselves who we are. In the Hermitage, this is also probably the case, although its imperial essence is so strong that I would even suggest that the museum is making such sharp steps within itself, because it is trying to escape from it.
The living state inside does not depend on age: if you have self-irony, a feeling of modern life, then time has no power over you.
- Zelfira Tregulova says that the Tretyakov Gallery in 2014 and 2018 are two different museums with the same employees. What can you say about the Pushkin Museum?
- I really wanted to make Pushkinskiy modern, living today and open. The way I feel: not strict, but a joyful being. It seems to me that Pushkinsky has always been like that - there was always something risky going on in him, and before there were significantly more risks, compared to which I risk almost nothing.
In 1956, an exhibition of Picasso was held here, then there was Matisse, and then Pushkin showed the impressionists for the first time at a time when they were nowhere to be found. The contemporary art that our museum exhibited was impossible to see then, people did not believe themselves that it had happened. The exposition “Moscow - Paris. 1900-1930”we saw our own avant-garde for the first time in a long time and were shocked by our history. That was the risk. And what I am doing now is just a continuation, steps along the same line.
- So you think that Ivan Tsvetaev, the founder of the Pushkin Museum, having seen the project of the Museum Town - with the House of Text, a wine cellar and underground passages - would approve of it?
- Tsvetaev was not just a scientist, he was an incredible visionary: a person who can come up with such a museum, find people who together with him will create this dream space, an imaginary world … Of course, he was one of us, and we absolutely definitely feel part of his team.
- I was so surprised by Tsvetaev's quote about how he found money for the museum. “Pekuniya has to be obtained by visits, conversations, distribution of printed notes about the idea and goals of the institution, and similar artificial means. You have to travel around Moscow in the direction of all 4 winds and you will have enticing speeches beyond the Moskva River, and on Vshivaya Gorka, and on Dog's site. " There is a feeling that fundraising methods have not changed much in 100 years.
- Have not changed at all. Then there was no law on patronage - and now it is not. You still need to be friends with people who are willing to help, but “need” is not quite the right word. It is very unpleasant for me when some people use others, such cynicism is not close to me. I am sincerely friends with our sponsors, communicate and make friends, it seems to me that this is the only way. We are very lucky with them - just as Tsvetaev was lucky with Maltsov (Yuri Nechaev-Maltsov - "RBC Style").
© Georgy Kardava
- And modern patrons, in your opinion, are very different from the great figures of the past, on whom everyone is equal?
- The tradition of Russian patronage of art certainly exists. Modern philanthropists have no motivations other than messianic ones: in Russia there is nothing like the American charity law, where there is a specific material motivation for those who help culture. Therefore, I believe that our sponsors are 100 times more aware of any other: they are very generous and receive little in return. That is why I keep repeating that we have many opportunities to move in this direction. Even if we don't talk about museums, although I really want to tell you about those who help us, just remind who these people are: Ivan Tavrin, Mikhail Karisalov, Alexander Svetakov, Marianna Sardarova and many others. I can only list a few of them, and each can be proud of. Someone is restoring the small town where he was born - and creating a dream space. A museum is also a city, and an ideal city, in fact, so the people who help us create exactly the same dream space, only here. And in the museum quarter, I will generously name the halls and buildings in honor of all those who help us, so that the memory remains. It has always been this way: each hall in our museum had the name of the donor who ensured the appearance of this hall.
- What does the economics of the exposition look like? It is clear that it is difficult for a museum to manage without the help of additional resources in the person of partners and patrons of the arts, but more often than not an ordinary art connoisseur who comes here does not understand what amounts are involved in preparation.
- Any large exhibition in our museum, in the main space, never costs less than € 1 million. This is an expensive product: we work with world art, which has a very high cost of insurance and transportation. The creation of an exposition and various kinds of fees are collected in a large amount - these are the prices of exhibitions in all large museums. Each of our projects has its own sponsor. For example, Picasso & Khokhlova is now supported by VTB Bank, which is also the general sponsor of the museum; and Vermeer. Masterpieces of the Leiden Collection”were made jointly with Sberbank. All exhibitions in Pushkinskiy are carried out with extra-budgetary funds, that is, with the money of our sponsors.
- It turns out that the idea of "Friends of Pushkinsky" (a club program with different amounts of privileges) is, among other things, for the visitors to feel their involvement and to support you more and more?
- The slogan "Our Museum" is very relevant: it is important for me that people feel it as a common home, make their contribution there, whoever can. We love the crowdfunding system so much because it makes it possible to participate by any means, and everyone feels a sense of belonging to everything that happens: restoration, acquisition, any movement.
- Only Friends of Pushkinsky could buy the Nina Donis kimono, which the designers made especially for the museum. Knowing your love, I would like to ask: did you come up with the project?
- Yes. They are just my favorite Russian designers. I love them very much, I am friends with them, I willingly put on their things. And all my friends, directors of large museums, know about them - I have already promised the director of Tate Modern a striped coat. I consider them to be very talented people, close to us in spirit, so I have long dreamed of doing something with them in a museum, and so the idea came to create a kimono. It was made in a very short time, in a tiny capsule collection - only 50 pieces. And next year I want to start making a uniform with them for our employees.
- How closely are art and fashion connected today?
- Any talented designer is a person who lives within art. The division into fashion, fine arts, choreography and multimedia is a convention. In fact, they are all the same. It's the same with artists: they work in workshops, but at the same time create things that allow them to live. It's the same with fashion. If we talk about Russian designers, then Nina Donis are absolute artists. The story of the kimono (especially for the Pushkin Museum for the opening of the exhibition Masterpieces of Painting and Engraving of the Edo Period, the brand created a kimono - RBC Style) demonstrated their well-known attitude to the Russian avant-garde, in particular to the constructivism of Rodchenko and Stepanova. It was inspired by things from our collection, it was very organic. Let's not forget that haute couture exhibitions are held today in all major museums. I like working with Russian artists,and it is very interesting to watch how this is happening all over the world today. It is not for nothing that my beloved house, Comme des Garçons, with Rei Kawakubo at its head, took Gosha Rubchinskiy into itself as part of its own understanding of the world.
- In America, fashion is usually divided into conservative and liberal. Conservatives wear Chanel, while Democrats wear less restrictive things. Would you agree with the opinion that you are a fashionable democrat with love for Rubchinsky and Nina Donis?
- I agree. (Smiles.) Although I do not exclude my own historical attachments to the old Margiela, which I wear with pleasure, or to the previous collections of Vivienne Westwood, whose things I combine perfectly with everything else. To the old Marni, and not today's - this was generally my favorite fashion house for many years, very much in line with me. As for the modern, you named some of my favorite designers - but I have also been wearing Vika Gazinskaya's coat for two seasons, I still love him. I do not despise people who love Chanel at all, and I consider people who skillfully combine the brand with other things to be absolutely wonderful and beautiful.
© Georgy Kardava
- How does a person who wears Rubchinsky cope with bureaucracy?
- Differently. Sometimes it can't cope, but I really want to cope. You can also treat bureaucracy in different ways: you can also with irony. Bureaucracy is also a tool.
- Let's talk about what a museum director should be. Can you imagine a person who has taken this position, but has absolutely no knowledge of his art? In her autobiography, Peggy Guggenheim talks about the director of one of the French museums, describing him as someone who did not understand modernism, but at the same time assembled an excellent collection of it.
- There are those who are not artists or art critics, but turn out to be brilliant directors of museums. Or vice versa: a person knows everything that he should know, but the museum turns out to be terribly dreary. By the way, Maria Balshaw, the current director of Tate Modern, is a wonderful manager. The secret lies in the fact that the main thing is to think modernly and understand what is happening in society and culture today. Sociality in the modern understanding of art is the key word. The director of Tate Modern thinks correctly and places emphasis correctly: the way she looks, the way she dresses, the way she communicates, is also a reflection of the inner spirit of a person, which is absolutely adequate for this time and this place. In general, the adequacy of time and place is a very important component.
- How did your work at Pushkinskoye change you? I don’t think that Manezh was a simpler organization with its huge number of branches and the same bureaucracy, but Pushkinskiy seems to be unimaginably larger, especially taking into account the building ambitions of the Museum Town. How have you changed during this time? Are you thinking more about the future?
- I've always thought about him. Probably, I changed only in the sense that I learned to be even more flexible, even more indulgent, even more capable of accepting a person with all his giblets. To do this, I had to improve myself internally all the time, and for me running a museum is an incredible human experience. I understood a lot, first of all - that my main work is connected with the correct interaction with the world around me, giving energy for the constant inspiration of people. This is the most important thing a director should do.
- And if little Marina was told that she would build a huge mountain of baby carriages in front of Pushkin, what would she answer?
- I was a completely thoughtless creature, absolutely carefree, I lived in a world of total deafening love. I really liked everything - life in all its manifestations, just like now.
- I think you know that Wes Anderson has done a big curatorial project in Vienna now. Let's dream: if you could invite any figure from the present or the past to Pushkin as a curator, who would it be?
- The hero of our today's exhibition, Pablo Picasso, is a win-win, a universal genius, an absolutely free person. I often think, what would he do now? I am sure that the most daring steps would be somewhere in the field of cinema, in some very big avant-garde, very large installation projects. Picasso for me always remains a yardstick - and there is no person more important to art in a certain period of it.>