Vitaly Bezpalov: Your works look like they are assembled from whatever remains were left lying around after an apocalypse. And a particular kind of apocalypse that was: the one in which all human beings died while their stuff was left intact. It reminds me of the plot of The Last Man on Earth series that describes the disappearance of humanity from the face of the Earth due to a global epidemic. A tiny group of survivors whose only aim was to kill time, started making strange, meaningless objects using whatever materials left behind after the destruction of the earlier ‘civilization’. Because of their strangeness and irrelevance, those objects could easily find their way into an exhibition of the most recent contemporary art. What place is occupied by the objects from which you piece together your assemblages? Have they already survived the global apocalypse or are they just waiting for it, assembling, in the meanwhile, into these weird pieces?
Anna Solal: I do not want force any scenario and aim at staying as elliptical as possible even if it on a first degree frontal figuration. The project La Convalescence was about suspension. It plays with the idea of tiredness, a state that can make the gaze more flexible. This passivity can also open unexpected doors. You start to abandon the entertainment of the every-day life, but this temporary culpability and confusion, even if unpleasant, can also bring new movement, rich forms of enigma, which guide you towards another desire for the future. The pieces from La Convalescence embody the state of being that exists between forms of torpor and oppression from the synesthetic experience of urban existence through its ubiquitous cheap stuff. Light, readily available. Not sublime at all. They exist around me I have composed with them with wild manual gestures. I am dependent on the materials I find and use and I accept that I do not have control somehow, I relinquish part of control. Maybe, it is where I start working, at least, this is where I start considering it a game, but also a trap.
Natalya Serkova: In your works one can see a lot of forms resembling birds, kites, wings and beaks. And these forms are often made of something that is very close to the ground like shoe soles or bicycle chains. It can be interpreted as a desire to ‘ground’ the sky, to break down its ascending vertical. The tiredness that you speak about as a productive state, also makes one seek a horizontal position, become close to the ground and everything which is on it. What are the things, in a broad sense of the world, that can usually be found on the ground, that are the most valuable for you and why?
AS: I like the idea of crushed sky, I try to avoid unnecessary pedestals at all cost. Looking down but also around is central for me. I try to face my environment and deal with it. These soles of sneakers and other items found on the ground, or at discount stores, are cut and rearranged in 3-D collages. It is a pleasant process for me to use trivial and mundane materials and to supply them with this ironic baroque destiny. I prefer pieces with polyphonic relation to meanings. The medium is certainly not the message, it is just one of the layers featured in my work. I want to stretch this material and let the imagination thrive.
In a sense, I have always considered sincerity dangerous, in a positive and exciting way. This is an unusual and a somewhat political position. In Jean Genet’s The Thief’s Journal his love for theft has nothing to do with any form of profit, but with a form of devotion to the movement of flight (the French word vol means both flying and stealing). It does not really matter what the subject medium or medium is if it exists though experience, if it functions as a bursting form of power.
My birds and angels are peaceful, but also knotted, shattered, geometrized and neat.
They are immersed in this agitated meditation but also retrain a pop quality. Exaltation is distilled in the minutia of its production process. It is often represented through pharmaceutical green mint color, the brutal red of promotional supermarket stickers, or the blue of workers’ shirts. Black and dark violet dominate parts of the drawing. These forms, arid as they are, also possess a languor, a crafty eroticism. The sides of the iphone screens are similar to the marble pattern or venomous parts of a body in case it had become transparent.
VB: I like your thesis that the medium is not the message. You shift the emphasis from the materials used in the work to the process of its production. The type of assembly itself becomes more important than whatever it is that you produce. You also talk about some kind of bursting power of such assemblies, which is also very interesting to me. On the one hand, the belief in the explosive power of art has disappeared along with modernism that has retreated. On the other hand, today the explosive waves are coming from the fluctuations of fake news media channels and social networks of it-persons. Do you conceive of your work as existing only within the limits of contemporary art, or, maybe, we can say that your birds and kites fly away somewhere further? What other territories become occupied by the processes and assemblies that you produce?
AS: I assemble them with rope or fabrics so that I can change the positions of each material without having to dismantle the structure and its different parts. So I can change any part at any given moment until the final stage in the process. This mobility is important. The society is evolving, and so are the canons of beauty, and thus the aura of what constitutes a piece is changing as well. We have to try to shift these canons, to wonder about whatever “emanantes” intrinsically from a piece, to unmask the process of forced legitimization. It raises the questions of authorship. Are these structures made by someone who is struggling or is it just another neutral mechanism emptied from all forms of chance, desire and interiority? Art can be strangely seductive when it is honest and brutal. I try to accept the fact of being influenced by external factors, yet without resorting to mimicry and letting the senses slide in many directions.
Working with poor materials is, of course, a constraint, but my possibilities are infinite. Of course, there is something quite satisfying in the use of poor mainstream materials that are excluded from the capitalist elitist system, but once again, for me, it is a tool of expression and not a particular message, just a way of making an inner vision real.
I mainly draw and sculpt… However, my sources of inspiration are wider: from dance and cinema to music… From Robert Bresson to James Ferraro… Or minimalist music, like that of Robert Hood or Romanthony, full of tenacity and euphoria. My birds and kites belong to the realms of contemporary art, for me, it is not at all reductive because this field is immense, porous and in a state of perpetual metamorphosis, many worlds in one world.
NS: It is interesting to inquire into what intrinsically belongs to a thing itself, before and beyond the convention. It is even harder to grasp such belonging when speaking about a piece of art, which is, technically, a fruit of a convention. In this case music can definitely be considered to be the closest medium to this very ‘primacy’ of inalienable, abstract nature that can be hardly described though language. Explanation of any sort and length is never enough, a piece of art eludes and hides in the infinite series of openings, always resisting articulation of meaning. Eventually, how important is it, in your opinion, for the art piece to be captured by meaning? Is it possible for it to remain an art piece and, along with this, elude description and to remain this way?
AS: A piece is not catapulted from nowhere, it is a dialogue between the intimate and the social. By “intrinsically” I mean that it is strongly connected through internal vision, more than a protocol of what art should be. To remain abstract at a level of reading, we must also go through a certain precision. Abstraction should enable possibilities, not order, to avoid the irrational real. It is a super good exercise to describe something that we like. The stronger the piece is, the more we can appropriate it personally and continue to grow within ourselves.
I do not know if music is more connected to emotion, I am no sure but at least it does not need discourse. I am not so interested in the discourse of artists but more what they express despite them. Unlike politics, art does not offer solutions but issues. A work has no meaning, but meanings are perpetually hatching within one another. What is important is the route that one decides to take, and to be wild along the way.