Art & Power

The project´s topic is Art and Power and it focuses on the issues of freedom of expression in art.

It unites different art forms in a discussion about the relationship between art / artists and political regimes / power structures.

The project combines different art forms:

  • Music: Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony nr.5
  • Literature: Anna Akhmatova – Requiem
  • Visual art: Vlad Stanishevsky – graphic series Russia XX Century

The project has a form of a concert with video projections and a panel debate.


Introduction and poetic recital

Сoncert with video projections

Panel debate

Anna Akhmatova


Graphic series


The issues of art and power have always existed in different cultures.

Art functions as a moral barometer of any society and has therefore either played along with power or been addressing it in a direct, critical and fearless way.

On the background of the recent social and political development in the world, this topic has once again become very important. This project aspires to raise awareness of the role of art and artists in the development of democracy and freedom in the world.

This project presents three historically interconnected art pieces, representing the period of the Great Terror in Russia in the 20th century. By presenting them together, it creates a historical and artistic context that illustrates the challenging and complex relationship between art and power.

The project also aims at providing more insightful information to the audience about these three art pieces. In this way it aspires to give audience a more profound experience, leave a more lasting impression and inspire interest in a deeper understanding of art.


A combination of three genius works of art that each speaks of the topic of power and art and represent Stalin´s era of the Great Terror in Russia in the 20th century.

Historically and artistically all these works are closely connected to each other: all three artistic works relate to the same period in Russian history: the Stalinist Great Terror from 1936-1938 in particular and totalitarian regimes in general.

Common to all is resistance to power structures, willingness to speak the truth and courage to make their voices the voice of an entire society. By doing so, all the tree artists are not afraid to walk in the minefield called freedom of thought and expression and stand in strong opposition to power structures.



Dmitri Shostakovitch

The creation of the symphony had a complex story that put its composer in a seemingly impossible situation in relation to Stalin´s regime. Given as a chance to rehabilitate him in the eyes of the regime, it required Shostakovich to abandon his artistic expression and values. Denying doing so would put him, his family and his art in an extremely dangerous position. But first and foremost it challenged him to stand by his moral and artistic values. However difficult, the controversial order was never a moral dilemma for Shostakovich, who had no choice, but to keep his personal integrity and express his artistic vision.



Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova is one of the most prominent poets of 20th century and one of the most acclaimed writers in Russia.

Her “Requiem”, a lyrical cycle of elegy and lament, written in the worst years of the Great Terror between 1935 and 1940, bears witness to the unbearable suffering of people under the extreme political regime as well as her own personal tragedy. It became a voice of grief and loss for millions of people suffering from the Stalinist regime. Due to its controversy at that time, it was not published in Russia until 1987, a fact clearly illustrating the relation of totalitarian political regimes towards truth and freedom of expression.



Vlad Stanishevsky

Vlad Stanishevsky is one of the most prominent graphic artists in modern times, who achieved considerable recognition worldwide for his works in xylography and etching.

His series “Russia XX Century”, created in the difficult years of late 1980´s in former Soviet Union, was originally intended to be a series of illustrations to Akhmatova’s then newly rediscovered “Requiem”. Executed as a series of 10 etchings, it eventually took form of a separate graphic work, when the artist added more personal thoughts about totalitarian regimes and freedom to his work; thoughts not present in the original text. Created with an amazing technique and a deep philosophical vision, the series depicts grief, horror, resistance and hope of people subjected to terror.

In the same ways as fragments in Akhmatova’s poetry and in Shostakovich´s Symphony nr. 5, the graphic series draws parallels to Orthodox liturgy, and achieves a state of visual symphony in its complexity and detailing.



Introduction is a short speech prior to the concert about the topic, the three artistic works, their interrelation and about the artists.

Recitle of “Requiem” by Anna Akhmatova.


Shostakovich Symphony nr. 5

Video projections during the concert on big screen(s) behind the orchestra showing graphic works from the series “ Russia XX century” by Vlad Stanishevsky. Responsible for video work and technical solution: video artist Anastasia Isachsen.


As this project discusses relationship between art and power in general and presents artworks connected to Russia in particular.

The panel of participants may consist of both Norwegian, Russian and international experts in this field: writers, journalists, directors, political observers, musicians, artists and researchers.

The panell debate would discuss the topic not only in the context of these three pieces of art, but aslo in cultural, artistic, social, historical and political perspectives. 

Suggested format: three paticipants and a moderator.



Anastasia Isachsen

Anastasia Isachsen is considered as one of the most prominent contemporary visual artists in Norway.

She creates video art for projections for various cultural productions: concerts, dance performances, theatre, installations, exhibitions and shows. She collaborates with artists across different creative disciplines and this interdisciplinary focus gives her artwork a mesmerizing and emotional expression.

Since she has established her practice first in Delhi, India in 2009 and in Oslo, Norway in 2011, she has collaborated on numerous Norwegian and international projects. Her work is presented on the main stages and venues in Europe, the USA and India.

Anastasia Isachsen

Anastasia Isachsen creates video art for projections, light design, scenography and concepts for various cultural projects: concerts, dance performances, theatre and installations.


+47 95795792