The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard was Tobias Kaspar’s second exhibition at MAMCO, following on from his  installation on the theme of “self-management” in 2021. Rented Life—a project in which he outsourced his life—featured at MAMCO’s “Apartment,” a reconstruction of Minimalist and Conceptual art collector Ghislain Mollet-Viéville’s Paris apartment. In 2022, the artist stepped  back in time with a project inspired by the tale of a bankrupt family in Russia under Tsar Nicolas II. 

Part theatrical performance, part visual installation, The Cherry Orchard is Kaspar’s personal, modern interpretation of the famous play of the same name by Anton Chekhov (1860–1904). A voiceover reads selected passages from the play, while the “artifacts” arranged within the exhibition space blur the line between reality and fiction: the flowers are made from plastic, and the fast-food packaging was collected during the pandemic by one of the artist’s contacts in Saint Petersburg. 

Chekhov’s play, which tells the story of a family forced to sell its estate, was written in 1903. It was first performed in 1904 in a production directed by Stanislavski, although Chekhov disapproved of Stanislavski’s treatment of the play, which the playwright had conceived more as a comedy. Just a year later, the 1905 revolution broke out in Saint Petersburg, rocking the very foundations of the Russian Empire.

Tobias Kaspar (b. 1984) draws on artistic practices and influences from the “new institutional criticism” of the 1990s, including pieces that combine formalist neutrality with the documentation of reality. In a surprising turnabout, he uses the narratives and discarded trappings of modern consumer society as the decor for a new story. Kaspar’s installation spans 100 years of Russian and Western history, from aristocratic decline to globalization and the crisis of late capitalism sparked by the recent pandemic.

  • Curated by Julien Fronsacq
FONDATION MAMCOÉtat de GenèveVille de GenèveJTIFondation LeenaardsFondation genevoise de bienfaisance Valeria Rossi di Montelera