Ter-Oganian spent during September 1999 some time in the Center for Metamedia as an artist in residence. He visited Plasy - after escaping from Russia and before he was sent to the refugee camp, waiting for his official status as a political refugee in Czech Republic. How he get there?
During Moscow's Art Manege Fair in December 1998 Ter-Oganian conducted a scandalous performance: with a hatchet he destroyed several icons - cheap objects; one he painted over with a profanity. His performance caused public protests towards his mistreatment of these icons, although they were just objects sold for turists as souveniers on the streets. As the scandal grew, Ter-Oganian's exhibit was closed and further performances were prohibited. In TV and in newspaper articles, Russian Orthodox priests asked for the artist's punishment as "Satan's man." As Charles Freund and Julia Volfson noted in their open letter supporting Avdey, officials "proclaimed it a necessity to control the action of artists in general, because (as they framed it) - the artist's soul is the easiest target for satanic temptation. Ter-Oganian soon started to be associated with all of Russia's problems". In the parliament, handbills were distributed appealing for action against him, to protect Russia from further economic crises. Finaly the Moscow prosecutor initiated a criminal case against him, charging Avdey with incitement of religious hatred. However Avdey didnt targed orthodox religion but wanted to demonstrate the definitive "death of modernism", whose adherents always had to overthrow the authorities and ruin spiritual values. In fall 1999 scared Avdey avoiding the sentence to prison, managed to escape to Czech Republic and Martin Zet took him to Plasy. Here Avdey received a status of a refugee artist in residence and joined inoficially the symposium Fairy-tales. His story sounded as a "real fairy tale", at least contrary to the narratives of the majority of participants of the symposium. Unfortunatelly his project could not be included in the catalogue, but we can add him here. After leaving Plasy Avdey spent some time in a Czech refugee camp and settled in Prague. He resided later for while in Berlin, but could not travel to Russia for almost 20 years.
Miloš Vojtěchovský, 1999
The artist and curator Avdei (Avdey) Stepanovich Ter-Oganyan was born 1961 in Rostov on Don, Soviet Union. Between 1978-82 he studied visual arts at Rostov Art School. In 1988 he became a member of the GROUP Art or Death, between 1991 and 93 curated with K. Reunov the program of the Tryohprudny Lane Gallery in Moscow, since 1994 curated Vperyod Gallery. From 1995 until 98 runned the project of "School of Contemporary Art". 1998 the law suit was initiated against him after his performance for the Art Manege89 exhibition. In 1999 asked for a refugee status in Czech Republic, which he obtained in 2002, since then he lived and worked in Prague and Berlin. In 2019 his trial was closed and he could move back to Moscow.