TOTART: Natalia Abalakova & Anatoly Zhigalov


Natalia Abalakova and Anatoly Zhigalov

have been working as artists since the beginning of 1960-s. Since 1974 they have been partiсipating in the exhibitions of independent artists. From the late 1970-s have been realizing their main Project “An Enquiry into the Essence of Art as applied to Life and Art” (TOTART), in the framework of which they made numerous performances, actions, installations, paintings, graphics, objects and texts. Work with media techniques: slides, photograph, cinema and new technologies. Since 1985 have been presenting video performances and installations. In their latest work they move from performances to videoperformances which they transform then into videoinstallations thus forging a radical gesture into cool rationalized form trying not to lose its hot substance. This hidden inner tension makes their apparent esoteric “thing-in-itself” of the work very expressive (if not aggressive) and dialogic (if not controversial).

“Famous artists made an attempt to install the thing that mostly remain beyond the expositional gallery space - performance as a possible technology for making art object. The artists offer the audience none other than the object’s “biography”. Totality of the author’s intentions is a distinctive feature of the project, sort of a certain plan - there are so many small paths, but there is only one way: to melt the languages of different genres used while designing some expression or story into video plastics of sequence”.

The installation “Nord Wind” presents two parallel video sequences with the documentation on one and the same performance made at different time in St.-Petersburg and in Germany, and also the material evidences of its being held: remnants of destructed pillow criss-crossed with barbed wire and its fluff, covered by a museum bell-glass.

The installation “The Place of an Artist” is shown on two monitors with the documentation on the performance in St.-Petersburg (an artist is sitting by the monitor with her eyes blindfolded until a picture of blown-up White Hall in Grozny appears on the wall and two monitors). The initial material of the performance is a video projection with leaflets falling down and the gallery floor is really covered with them. An empty chair is real as much (“The chair is not for you, it is for everyone”? or “The place of an Artist”?). As the authors themselves put it out: “This is the art of overcoming the art, clearing of collective memory, destroying of fragmental history, experiencing physical reality of space and time. This is the art of learning and sharing your experience with others...”

“The garden of Smiles”. An irregular sand circle with 11 stones and 2 monitors reproducing a “found subject” (a woman throwing out stones on the lawn) and falling stones from installation; the same falling stones are projected on the walls and ceiling.

A sequence of images (a nail, a hand, a nail in hand, a hammer hammering a nail in hand) with permanent sounds of a hammer is permanently reproducing on the monitor standing by the wall. The mirror and the shelf with a pair of rubber gloves, the nail and the hammer on the opposite wall (on the monitor) . On the third wall there is a sentence: “To have a little patience - and all will be O’K”.

The performance “In such a cold weather art is impossible, but if You have a little patience...”: under a small window there is a monitor reproducing a ski-track from a point of view of a running skier with interventions of citations of TOTART performances where the artists are getting undressed. The window opens and all the articles of male and female wear fall down on the monitor.


(“The Nord Wind”)

TOTART about TOTART | TOTART: Actions, performances. Installations