TOTART: Natalia Abalakova & Anatoly Zhigalov

Natalia Abalakova


«Vulnerability» is part of an ongoing project entitled «The Workshop of Women’s Creative Work. The History of Women’s Culture in Post-Soviet Space: 1989-2009». Issues of self-definition and attempts to capture the spirit of the times continue to be some of the most important themes for the artists featured in the exhibition. The stylistic devices and materials the artists use are less important. The «post-media» painting of Anna Brochet represents the anonymous female body as unprotected, reminding us that the «female ecstasy» of consumerism is written into this body with the force of commercial culture. Alexandra Dementieva models virtual reality, but the seeming vulnerability of the female characters that populate it is merely a computer program that reacts to the movements of viewers who dream of returning for a moment to virtual bodies of «serial culture». Marina Chernikova tells of the fragility and unreliability of places protected by law and tradition, such as school: even these spaces at any minute can become a site where human bonds fall apart and become hotbeds of violence and pain. Aidan Salakhova’s video installation «Tatyana» plays out the drama of «essence without content», a spectacle of aging flesh. This topic is also relevant for artists who make performances related to bodily practices. There is a reason why Vali Export now prefers video art shown in darkened rooms, while other women opt for the decay-resistant virtual body and eternal life in the World Wide Web. Using the traditional medium of sculpture, Tatyana Antoshina addresses post-Soviet women’s art in its most radical forms and its relation to the international context of women’s art on two continents. Swedish artist Katarina Nitsch’s video installation «Old Issues New Glories» appeals to a classic feminist performance by Vali Export. Irina Nakhova, Maria Ovchinnikova, and Vera Sazhina address themes of death, old age, and the quirks of our consciousness, which is trapped in the membrane of the body. The photographs of Anna Alchuk in the series «De profundis» were created when she took part in the «Path to Freedom» humanrights program. At first glance, they look like amateur shots, but they are full of hidden drama and speak to the necessity of recognizing the Other as a «creature of pain». For Anna herself, the work turned out to be a problem of «evaluating a position worth the cost of life».

The project involves several artists who work with photography. Vita Buivid presents her catastrophic project «How I Spent My Summer», while Tatyana Liberman offers photograms from the life of cells, which look strikingly fragile.

Tatyana collaborated on the project with two pupils, Eva Zhigalova and Via Muragina. Irina Valdron and Marina Lyubaskina introduce an element of carnival culture to the project. For the youngest participants the choice of topics and the desire to convey their feelings to the viewer become a reason to communicate. That is the essence of contemporary art, a field where, as Julia Kristeva said, the female artist «takes on an enormous physical and spiritual risk».



(III Moscow Biennale, Special Project, “Vulnerability”, RSHU, Moscow)

TEXTS BY TOTART | TOTART: Actions, performances. Installations