MAXIM KANTOR: WASTELAND (Letters from Karakorum)

January 14 – May 22, 2022

Wasteland (Letters from Karakorum), by Moscow-based artist Maxim Kantor, is comprised of 70 etchings with color engraving that depict the artist’s interpretation of everyday life in Russia. Also included in the portfolio are seven lengthy letters (addressed to ”Beloved” or “Dearest Friend”), seemingly reflective of Kantor’s personal biography. The work sheds light on Russia’s physical and cultural place in the world—between the East and the West and Asia and Europe—and the long-standing social and cultural problems that have plagued the country. The term wasteland is defined as an urban or industrial area that is bleak, barren, neglected, overgrown, unused, or unattractive. The hapless, grim-looking citizens presented in Wasteland reveal the struggle and hardship—indeed, the horror—of living in this harsh, nearly uninhabitable environment.

The exhibition was created in collaboration with Fr. Ryan Duns’ Spring 2022 class THEO 2330: Evil, Horror, and Theology. Focusing on the genre of supernatural horror, the course invites students to identify what Duns calls “dark transcendence.” Through film, literature, and the visual arts, the class will probe the mystery of evil and horror and consider ways in which these genres can serve as portals to an encounter with the “Dark Transcendent” known to theologians as Divine Mystery. Students will visit the Haggerty Museum throughout the semester to view the selection of prints from the Wasteland collection. The wager of the course is that, when beheld through a theological lens, Kantor’s harrowing depictions of everyday evils can awaken a sense of the hallowing presence—the Dark Transcendent—who opens our eyes to the horrors of history and calls us to stand in solidarity with history’s victims.

This exhibition is presented in part through generous support from Partnering Sponsor Dr. Mary Anne Siderits