Funded by a gas billionaire and sited in a former power station, the huge GES-2 gallery aims to elevate Moscow’s standing on the art world stage. And its headline act? Ragnar Kjartansson’s reshoot of the US soap that became a cult hit in Russia

First Vladimir Putin came to visit. Then, for the second day in a row, the artists were turfed out of GES-2, a prestigious new arts centre built in a disused power station, as police and men in suits swarmed in for what looked like another VIP guest.

Instead of our planned walkthrough, I trudged through the snow to catch up with Ragnar Kjartansson, the star Icelandic artist headlining the art centre’s opening by re-filming the popular soap opera Santa Barbara as a “living sculpture”. He had taken a booth in the nearby Strelka Bar and was taking the disruption in his stride, despite it coming one day before the grand opening.

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