On December 1st, the Institute of Modern Russia (IMR) held an opening reception for the “Russian Visionaries. Into the Light” portrait exhibit at the 25CPW gallery in New York City.

 

Photography by Roberto Presutti

 

The exhibit features the portraits of dozens of Russian opposition leaders and public figures, photographed by famed Moscow photographer Kirill Nikitenko.

The opening night brought together over 300 prominent Russians and Russian-Americans concerned with the current political situation in Russia, as well as a large number of Americans, including human rights activists, policy analysts, journalists, et al. They were all warmly greeted by Pavel Khodorkovsky, the President of IMR, Elena Khodorkovskya, the curator of the exhibition, Nikitenko, the photographer, and Bess Greenberg, Executive Director of the 25CPW gallery.

Wine flowed generously as those who came to the gallery looked at the austere black and white photographic portraits of the various Russian visionaries and tried to decipher their intense faces while reading their reflections on Russia’s future after 2012 (interview quotes were hung next to the portraits). The visionaries mysteriously stared back in silence (though one could listen to their live interviews on Kindles conveniently displayed nearby).

Later, a couple of the visionaries themselves were spotted in the flesh: Sergei Guriev, Provost of the Moscow New Economic School, and Andrey Illarionov, former economic advisor to President Vladimir Putin and now a Senior Fellow at the Washington, D.C. Cato Institute, both attended the opening and gave short speeches about the deteriorating political situation in Russia.

The opposition's criticisms of Vladimir Putin's regime, supported by visitors to the gallery on the opening night, was reflected in the numerous protest rallies held in Moscow after the December 4th parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, independent observers report blatant falsifications and fraud at many voting locations, and the discontent in Russia continues to grow.

The exhibition will run through December 12, 2011.

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