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The House of Culture

GES-2 House of Culture is a place for all, a space for collaborative art production and enjoyment. V–A–C Foundation has long been examining questions about the role and voice for contemporary art institutions today, ultimately turning to historical Soviet cultural production in its search for a new institutional model.


All photos: Gleb Leonov

GES-2 aspires to re-imagine traditional Russian ‘houses of culture’, which first emerged in the late 19th century and remain relevant to this day. Their main aim was to encourage people to actively participate in culture and to make art an integral part of their everyday experience. Aiming to achieve that same goal, GES-2 puts the viewer rather than the artwork at the centre of its activities. While traditional museums were largely designed to display works of art and tell visitors about their historical value, GES-2 House of Culture sees the public as its ally in the process of producing culture.

Houses of culture became the earliest example of multidisciplinary institutions, housing under one roof a library, a gallery, a theatre, creative workshop, a concert hall, a museum, a cinema and even a school. Through this approach, cultural activity was made accessible to a widest audience, and the public was offered a place for creativity. Art was no longer perceived as elitist but designed to be organically inclusive.

Contemporary artists work in an environment where boundaries between disciplines and practices are becoming irrelevant, which makes the House of Culture concept of arts’ integration urgent and necessary. With obsolete hierarchies questioned at GES-2 House of Culture, art disciplines can coexist, interact, clash and merge with each other, leading to yet unchartered territories.

GES-2 strives to be an inclusive platform, where both expert and non-expert opinions are valued and artistic and non-artistic activities go hand in hand. Workshops, lectures, performances and participatory projects all make the House of culture a place where visitors are not instructed but rather encouraged to contribute to the generation of new knowledge. GES-2 is a joint experimental ground, a place where people from different social groups and communities interact with each other, each of them given an opportunity to play a continuously active part in contemporary culture.

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