London arts foundation sanctioned by Kremlin

The former London exhibition space of the Calvert 22 Foundation. Courtesy Calvert 22

Calvert 22, a private foundation and cultural space in London which until recently ran the arts-focused Calvert Journal, has been placed under sanctions by the Russian government.

‘A decision has been made to recognize the activities of the foreign non-governmental organization Calvert 22 Foundation, Great Britain as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation,’ the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office said in a written statement.

The institution was founded in 2009 by Russian-born, London-based economist Nonna Materkova to promote culture from Russia and the former Soviet region. The programming for its exhibition space in East London, which it closed in 2016, was overseen by the former ICA London director Ekow Eshun.

The move is likely to have security implications for anyone closely involved in the organisation within Russia, with entry restrictions likely for those living outside.

As well as Calvert 22, Materkova was involved in the Hermitage Foundation, a patrons’ group supporting the St Petersburg museum. In July the group ended fundraising and condemned Russia’s invasion.

Nadia Beard, who edited the Calvert Journal until it ceased publication in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion, said on social media: ‘I’ve been proud of the work my colleagues and I did over the years at Calvert Journal to try & engage with Russian artists and culture fairly and with some nuance. This is stupid, counter-productive and totally in keeping with the masochistic state of affairs in Russia today.’

On announcing the closure of the Journal, the editorial team wrote that they ‘oppose the war in Ukraine and will continue to act in a way that ensures [their] staff and partners in the region remain safe during these difficult times’.

The foundation is one of 61 non-profit organisations that have been listed as ‘undesirable’ by the Russian government since the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

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