HOW CAN ONE TELL THE ARTIST FROM HER ART

7th Moscow International Biennale of Art : Parallel Program (hosted by AIR, Moscow).
19.9.17 - 27.9.17

The works by artists Anya Mokhova, Anna Kolosova, Alyona Larionova, Dasha Gusakova, Margo Trushina, Svetlana Grishina, Evgeniya Barkova and Hara Colaitii are simultaneously autobiographical and ethnographic. Importantly, this duality is always being contemplated and reflected upon by the artists themselves. By a means of art practice, they address own feelings, fears and dreams as if these were facts one can undoubtedly rely on — while making decisions and outlining one’s picture of the world.

The works of Anya Mokhova explore the space that surrounds the body and becomes its cast, frozen in time – it moulds movement, variations of intensity and gradation of form. She gives a material manifestation to sensory perception, while retaining its original ephemerality and fragility. Her choice of “bodily” colours is also derived from this. She works with cosmetic blush, soap, tallow and wax. Anna Kolosova deals with this near-bodyliness in her different way. She fuses painting, collage and performance together, becoming a part of her works, relating to them as a ready-made rather than an author. She uses things and narratives that surround her in her everyday life as “matter” to make art from: she uses paper, wood, paint, found objects, cheap jewellery, fragments of fabric and memories, and – finally – herself.

In the animation “Let it be, but make it intense” (2017) Alyona Larionova tells us a love-story – but focuses on love that is not a human sentiment, but a universal program that is the basis of evolution and connects all life-forms. The idea that fundamental difference between species is essential for universal love is transmitted through intentionally primitive, archaic images and narratives. These images translate feelings into a visual language of folklore – and are therefore intuitively accessible to viewers of all ages. The video-works of Dasha Gusakova can be described as poetry written in space – she rhymes unedited thoughts and sounds with the texture of grass in a forest, temperature fluctuations and the play of light in the spaces she works with. The artist herself simultaneously takes on the roles of a director, a poet and a poetry line. In her latest film, “Eurydice” (2017) speech is sometimes replaced by rhythms of movement and sounds of nature, which are the source of poetry written in “body language” of a mythological creature that comes to life as it dances.

In the video-installation “Eclipse” (2017) by Margo Trushina everyday things and phenomena such as berries, body-parts, or a sunset, switch their ordinary meanings and functions and become something entirely different: caviar turns into the sun, the moon turns into a sand-drawing, hands turn into flowers. As the artist explores reality in film, the poses the question of where a work of art begins and what it is. Does it begin with a conversation, a pencil clasped between one’s fingers, the sensation of wind on one’s skin, the taste of berries or the shadows in the moonlight? Recent works by Svetlana Grishina are inspired by Alchemical Treatises. The Sulfur-Mercury theory described in the VIII century by the Arabic alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (also known as Geber) unfolds around the idea of conjunction of two contradictory principles, that are the basis of all metals – Philosophical Mercury and Philosophical Sulfur. In Alchemical symbolism they are sometimes represented as white and red. The process of their fusion occurs in a space that could be counterposed to the space of the stage. Thus, having established the space of “alchemical substances” that is contrasted with the space of human dramas, the artist proposes to synthesise an impossible object: The Philosopher’s Stone.

The style of works of Evgeniya Barkova can be described as “tender punk”, it reflects a juvenile perception of the world, a very intense and sensitive response to reality. It is a non- aggressive, non-destructive rebellion; like grass in the cracks of concrete – it gives hope. In her work the artist experiments with different techniques of working with the surface of fabric. The works of the artist-performer Hara Colaiti draw upon the aesthetics of pop- and trash- culture to ironically display the nationalism and sexism prevalent in contemporary Greek politics and media-industry. The main source through which the artist distributes her work is her youtube channel led under the nickname “Anna Goula”

Now, is it possible to talk about the artist as if she was detached from her practice and from the works that she created while developing a personal method of thinking and making? And if so, would it be possible to define the boundary where the artist ends and her art begins? How would one go about justifying such a boundary if it was to be defined? Finally, what can we find out about a specific version of reality, in which the artist lives — by contemplating the works she creates and allows us to see?

— Sasha Burkhanova-Khabadze, 2017.

(Photographs: Katya Anokhina, 2017)