Johannes Vermeer (left) and Olesya Albano (right) (images: courtesy of the Netherlands Embassy in Moscow).
 

Russia: Izoizolyaciya and other art initiatives in response to Covid-19

A Russian online initiative to imitate well-known paintings through photographs in times of social distancing reveals the popularity of Dutch art in Russia.
25 May 2020

Many Russian museums have responded to the Covid-19 challenge in a creative way, such as the Garage with its online projects or the Museum of Moscow with its state-of-the-art built heritage tours (for example, the tours of the Moscow Town Hall and Peter’s Road Palace). An interesting initiative in Leningrad Oblast, somewhat similar to the Amsterdam Museum’s digital exhibition about Amsterdam in times of corona crisis (‘Corona in the City’), was launched on Museum Night (16 May): the Virtual Museum of Self-Isolation.

Sharing creativity in times of social isolation

But the real furor – also outside of Russia – was made by a Facebook initiative called ‘Izoizolyaciya’. The first three letters come from the Russian word for ‘figurative art’ (izobrazitelnoye iskusstvo) and the rest corresponds to the Russian word for ‘isolation’, resulting in the repetition of ‘izo’. Participants imitate well known (and also less known) paintings through photographs taken in their home settings, trying to make their pictures look as close as possible to the original while being funny at the same time. 

The popularity of Dutch paintings in Russia

As one can see in the project’s timeline, a large portion of the paintings chosen by the participants belongs to historical Dutch artists, such as Johannes Vermeer, Vincent van Gogh and Hieronymus Bosch (see an example in the photograph above). This can be explained because Dutch art is very popular in Russia. The project has quickly gained popularity outside Russia, so that more and more people in different countries are contributing.