Episode5

Inner taiga

Triumph gallery, Moscow, 2013

When the surrounding world turns into a zone of alienation, a personal “inner taiga” arises as a model of salvational escapism. The exhibition’s authors insist that the way of life of modern man and the surrounding world have undergone such changes that a point of no return has been passed. The main reasons for this, in their opinion, are the pushing out of the natural by the technocratic and the replacement of the “natural” per se with the “artificial.” This is why the artists are carrying out a symbolic return, constructing their own mythology, their own history and their own alternative world, providing it with individuals and relations between them. The “Internal Taiga” exhibition is a secluded corner of the authors that they have woven together from fairytale impressions and dreams, but that is nevertheless permeated with a sense of anxious expectation and agitation. Beneath “green” set dressings and declarations about saving the planet, we find touchingly childlike concerns. They are archetypal and conceal an entire layer of psychological conditions of the modern man.

“Jobe Smith, lawnmower man, is constructing a new microchip in order to conquer the world” – that’s a description from the second part of 1992’s cult film “The Lawnmower Man”. But today, all of the microchips have been built, the world has been conquered and this given in which we all find ourselves is what the young authors, Oksana Simatova and Pyotr Goloshchapov, are examining in their exhibition – they are offering their own version of an imagined refuge. As early as half a century ago, in his renowned book “One-Dimensional Man”, Herbert Marcuse wrote that the forces of the mass media were planting in every consciousness false needs and a cult of consumerism.

As a recipe for resistance, he proposed his idea of the Great Refusal of the values of the western cultural system. Today, the fruits of this labor, in part, perhaps, can be seen in the popularization of eastern philosophy, in a new ascetism, and in the appearance of various forms of downshifting. Interestingly, there has been no idea in history that has been as capable as the cult of consumerism in the realm of uniting people of various countries, cultures and faiths. This is a genuinely great trap for humanity.

Before us is an example of an art in which there is no false bottom, revealing a conceptual bottom beneath, there is nothing “up our sleeves”, there are no long, dull explanations – there is work with the material, there are the parameters of “madeness”. This is an art which from the very outset addresses itself to sensual perception – to sight. As Francis Bacon said, “Vision is the most solid and fullest of communications of all those in existence.” In short, a conceptual and intermediary or transit point here is entirely absent. Any grounds for the decoding of meanings remain on the surface and, first and foremost, play a shadowing role.

As to how the works are done, the authors allow the combination of cutting-edge technologies and work that is done by hand. Painting here involves 3D testing grounds, textures and artificial lighting, resulting in something that is a landscape, but not quite a landscape. The spaces in their pictures are deprived of air and its vibrations; within them one cannot sense the scent of pine needles, feel the softness of the moss or hear the snapping of breaking twigs. The ideal geometric shapes of the trees, the semi-finished goods stand and wait for the leather of textures to be stretched across them. On close inspection, defects can be identified that are characteristic of modern special effects in blockbusters or the latest animated films. It is as if this is a mathematical world, sketched in a 3D-modeling program, first in linear perspective, and then through the creation of a carcass, the selection of textures and the positioning of the lighting – in a sense a prototype of Baudrillard’s hyper-reality in which everything has been substituted and calculated, from the time of day to the number of stars in the sky.

The artists’ painting, on the one hand, demonstrates the artificial landscapes of the forests, whilst on the other indicating that painting, as an archaic practice of registering the world, plays a joke – it registers that which by its very nature cannot be registered. It is akin to firing from a catapult at an invisible plane – you can hit it, in certain circumstances, but nevertheless it can’t have any impact on anything. But painting still retains a priority right to mimic other media, though it may be more akin to partisan sorties, rather than serious counterattacks. The authors engage in this risky venture – they record the hyper-real, and in this sense they effectively reach a new reality, we can even talk of a new plein air format. In the pictures there are figures, people, perhaps humanoids. Their external appearance, as with the characters in the first three-dimensional cartoons, when it was conditioned by technical limitations, is now a model of an intermediary link in a technological chain from which we can make a soldier, a cleaner or a masseur, simply by providing the right computer programming. Fiber-glass animals are in the same way deprived of any covering or coloring, their bodies penetrated by fissures which recall elements from vectored graphics. The main thing in their painting, however, is the pictures in which there are surveillance cameras which, without exaggeration, can be identified as the main symbol of recent years, evidence of systemic control and totalized monitoring of everyone and everything. From this point of view, the entire project is extremely politicized. Now it is a space that, like London, the city that contains the largest number of surveillance cameras per capita, can be scanned to identify “liberating viruses”, preventing “malfunctions” and “breakdowns.” From media flirtation the artistic impulse is transformed into a pessimistic assertion – even in an invented reality there is something that monitors and controls.

The “Inner Taiga” exhibition is a splicing of the real and the virtual, a seam beneath which personal emotions are concealed, pushed out of the confines of consciousness. The authors do not oppose and do not propose any plans for resistance, they form a mold of their internal condition akin to a confessional utterance on a psychoanalyst’s couch. This is a coagulated emotion that again and again forces us to experience a powerful alarm, and as a typical phobia of our times, born out of ultra-urbanism, the media onslaught, new communications and everything that goes together to form a new sociality, it is alien and artificial.

Episode5

Episode5

oil on canvas 120x240cm (6canvases 60x80cm)

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Shatter 0005

Shatter 0005

fiberglass, wood, metal, glass, 115x100x120cm

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Episode2

Episode2

oil on canvas 120x240cm (6canvases 60x80cm)

Episode1

Episode1

oil on canvas 120x240cm (6canvases 60x80cm)

Episode3

Episode3

oil on canvas 120x320cm (6canvases 60x80cm)

Episode4

Episode4

oil on canvas 120x240cm (6canvases 60x80cm)

Inner taiga

Inner taiga

used ventilation tube, spruce trunk, needles, moss, taxidermy mannequin, 180x45x200cm

Shatter 0004

Shatter 0004

fiberglass, wood, metal, glass, concrete, 136x42x83cm

Shatter 0001

Shatter 0001

fiberglass, wood, metal, glass, concrete, 45x50x124cm

Shatter 0003

Shatter 0003

fiberglass, wood, metal, glass, 90x76x140cm

Episode 8

Episode 8

oil on canvas, 90x110cm

Episode 7

Episode 7

oil on canvas, 90x110cm

Episode 6

Episode 6

oil on canvas, 90x110cm

Episode 11

Episode 11

oil on canvas, 90x110cm

Episode 12

Episode 12

oil on canvas, 90x110cm

Episode 13

Episode 13

oil on canvas, 90x110cm