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Changing Places: Nomadic Arts Curator Kate Fowle Loves Moscow’s Dynamism

Born in Reading, just outside of London, Kate Fowle has already worked in several countries. She was an international curator at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, and ran one of the first master’s programs in curating in the U.S. before finding her place as the chief curator at the garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.

I came to russia with my school to study economics in 1986. I was 15-16 at the time. We went to Moscow and St. Petersburg and took the train. We learned about the economics of communism. And that was my only visit to Russia before I accepted Garage’s invitation.

I’ve moved three times during my four years here, but all within the same neighborhood – Patriarch’s Ponds. I really like the neighborhood because it’s walkable and I enjoy the flexibility to move about without using public transport or cars, because we spend enough time in traffic anyway. I really like the fact that you can go sit at the pond and I’m into running. It’s an area where you can actually go outside and you don’t have to actually do anything to be outdoors and enjoy it.

Twins has been a big favorite for the last couple of years. I’m a vegetarian but I eat fish and the menu is fantastic for that, and it’s always very fresh. It’s light, it’s the kind of thing you can eat without feeling like you are going to fall asleep straight afterwards. I like the fact that they have an outdoor courtyard, it’s great in the summer to be able to sit out there. Twins, 13 Malaya Bronnaya Ulitsa, Metro Mayakovskaya

Pinch is somewhere i enjoyed last year. It’s a cocktail bar but they have a great breakfast there. I’ve had a few work meetings there because we like to put Garage visitors up in a nearby hotel. It was extremely popular last year, so often in the evenings it was so loud that it wasn’t working, but it’s getting a little bit quieter now. pinch, 2 Bolshoi palashevsky pereulok, Metro Tverskaya

I was fascinated with the development of vDnKh. I first saw it when I came for an interview with Garage in 2012. There was basically a bit of market, a whole lot of shutdown places, it was like a kind of wasteland. And now there’s a gradual development that kind of goes back to what the plans were in the 1960s. For me it’s just interesting because it’s one of the places to watch how a city redevelops its leisure time and how that works. VDnKh, Metro VDnKh

People either love or hate Moscow, because it’s a very particular city, it has heavy architecture. What I love about it is that summer here is the best kept secret, summer here is better than in many, many places, because there’s so much open space. It’s a very green city for a city of this density. And in four years I saw this place inventing and reinventing itself, constantly in transition.

In fact, the [russian] sanctions [on Western food imports] did restaurants a lot of good. Now there’s a lot more “farmto-table,” kale is now available – I used to grow my own and now I don’t have to. I did this with one of my colleagues here: Her parents live just outside of Moscow, so we would plant the seeds there and then provide the staff with kale. When you can’t get it – grow it.

I have no complaints about the people. I was told that people are very stern here, but I find that actually, culturally this place is much closer to my experiences with Mexico City than a heavy Eastern European attitude. People’s sense of humor is wicked and there’s an innate generosity.

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