Last week I went to a presentation by Olga Chernysheva, a video artist from Russia, at the Utrecht center of ‘actuele kunst’ (BAK). The center displays the exhibition of her works, and also arranged this lecture aka conversation of Olga and curator Cosmin Costinaş.
I know her works since the end of 80s, if I remember; I remember one of her earliest projects, the Hat-Flowers. These notoriously famous hats had been worn by nearly all Russian women back then. Most of these hats were pretty ugly in real life, but looked like magical flowers on the photos by Olga. I think these ‘hats’ somehow influenced my own art works too, and my aman_geld project specifically, by this capacity to see an unusual beauty in the most mundane things.
It’s interesting that my latest encounter with her works was also mediated by aman_geld; when I was in Moscow last year, opening my own exhibition (amazing enough, I didn’t write about all that in this blog), I also went to the center of contemporary art called Garazh (Garage), where they were displaying, among other, her brilliant video-miniatures. If I would be doing my aman_geld as a video-project, it would look something like these works.
As often, it’s easier to show the video work than to talk at length on what it’s all about; so I just copy here a few clips I found on YouTube (although each of them indeed requires a lengthy posting, if I may need to explain what they show).
These two clips were among the small projects shown at Garazh, and the following one is a compilation of a few art works, both video and photo:
During the presentation Olga has also shown few ‘larger’ pieces:
She also showed another brilliant film, the Dream, but I can’t find it on the web; I may write later about this one, if I find it.
It was interesting for me to listen to the discussion of her work by the Dutch audience; they tend to describe her works as both ‘realistic’ and even ‘ethnographic’. But what’s not ethnographic? I think her works as ethnographic as the paintings by Magritte or the novels by Kafka; i.e., highly ethnographic but by being existentially absurd, by deconstructing, de-contextualizing the reality in the most grotesque way. It’s quite symbolic that her works are often perceived (and critiqued) in Russia as being made by ‘soulless, shameless foreigner’; people sense a nearly Marcian detachment of the author from them. This distance, a highly reflective position of Olga is of course a great achievement for me, and an object of professional envy.
I tried to take pictures during the lecture, but the light was horrible, and I manage to make only the ones like that (that’s Olga herself):
I also went to the exhibition at BAK after the lecture, and it was pretty surreal experience too; it was already quite late, 10 pm or so, and the lighting was pretty weird. So went my pictures too:
One of them even appeared in the aman_geld blog: see Feb 18.