(2018) INSTALLATION (PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO, SCULPTURE, ARTIST BOOK)
Spinebone Soup and Stuffed Rabbits - multimedia project covering the biopolitical approach to an issue of food, especially on the specific sides as hunger and overconsumption, studied throughout conflict periods of history as well with a contemporary ideologic understanding of lifestyle, fashion, and well-being. It is implemented in mediums of post-doc and verbatim video, photography, installation, and a cookbook, deconstructing familiar advertising aesthetics and conventional ways of representations.
3-channel video installation Guerilla Gardening Video (13:30); 1-channel video installation Dumpster Diving Video (10:00); 1-channel video installation Vegetarians Interview Video (41:25); Installation (Photo and Video); Sculptures; Artist book
"Several years ago I refused eating meat entirely. Insisting neither on ecological nor ethical aspects, I could only guess which machinery of a personal eschatology affected my alimentary choice. The nucleus of my work "Spinebone Soup and Stuffed Rabbits" is a reflection on the nature of food politics; the transition of biopolitics into necropolitics; the establishment of ethics as a product of a dominant ideology; the role of trauma, memory, and speech in the shaping of consumer's choice. The Siege of Leningrad appeared as a point of departure. For me, it is not some speculative episode of an abstract past, but the humanitarian collapse that directly modeled my anamnesis. I understand it as a unique, timeless space behind the looking-glass; a place of death politics' effectuation, unthinkable ethical perversions, and trauma's emergence casting a shadow on generations upwards and revealing hitherto.
The phenomenon of the Siege is different compared to a camp, a place of displacement and alienation of political and human rights. In the case of the Siege, the camp conditions were imposed directly on the habitation, home, which afterwards didn't have a chance to become the same again. The Siege in my family, as in many similar families, is an undoubted genetic memory, a trauma, imprinted on the bodily level. Revealed in sophisticated figures of omission, in failure to recite, in postures of violence. Exposed by behavioural patterns of the actors of the family hierarchy, who, for instance, are resorting to food violence or controlling the bodies of subalterns in aspects of food consumption. The food trauma is not only the bitter remembrance of hunger; it is the horror of association with the means of extreme survival. Forced cannibalism becomes a conductor for destructive memory and a reason for dehumanization by the members of the power apparatus. A rhetorical trap: an enemy and a survivor are equally dehumanised. The status of a hero is awarded to the one eaten."
"Spinebone Soup and Stuffed Rabbits" manifests itself as a speculative cookbook. Following the tradition of modernists' experiments with collages, it reads a concept of food as text, glues it together with the aspects of memory, conditions of ideology, and visual culture of the present. The shape of the book, which can be described as an inverse or wrongly assembled magazine, enhances the ubiquitous message of the omnipresent ideology devouring any nutritional value.
This cookbook is a collaboration with an artist and graphic designer Nick Teplov. The role of typography is equally important as the role of imagery and text. By its redundancy it emphasizes exacerbates the ideological aspects studied through my whole work.
Guerilla Gardening Video (13:30) - was inspired by an archival photograph from besieged Leningrad. To survive from hunger people used the city flower-beds to plant vegetables. As it is known now, there was strict censorship on depicting the everyday life of the city. Only several photographers were commissioned to make stage shots for mostly propagandistic usage. One could see smiling people surrounded by the rich crops, and only statistics of hunger victims could show the real horror behind the scenes.
My performative video depicts a repetitive ritual of harvesting. Conflating a nowadays culture of guerrilla gardening with a historical reenactment, I make interventions in the flower-beds nearby the city recognisable landmarks in several European cities. As a sound work, I recite the excerpts from the Siege diaries, where I take an enumeration of food items that were common for hunger times.
Dumpster Diving Video (10:00) - is departing from an important example of political mythology connected with a history of the Leningrad Zoo, which claims that none of the animals was eaten during the severe times of hunger during the Leningrad Siege. To save the predators, the Zoo's director invented a method how to trick the animals refusing to consume substitutive forage: he would stuff the rabbit's skins with grass and sawdust adding a few drops of blood or bones stock. I was so astonished by the peremptoriness of the statement that the animals have been left intact in the city where people ate people, so I decided to interview the employees connected to the Leningrad Zoo at different times. Their answers affirming the continuous strength of political mythology and mixed with some official information about the death statistics in the Zoo during the Siege, I am using as a sound work. The conceptual figure of the animal became very important for my work. I see it not only as a metaphor of this Stuffed Rabbit mentioned above, but I also comprehend it as an uncanny figure of the other, which we are afraid to encounter in ourselves. The state of an animal was described by Giorgio Agamben in connection with bare life state, in which displaced human loses its sovereignty. The place of
displacement can become a dumpster, a transit zone between civilization and wilderness where still (not in the zoo) one can meet a real animal that came from the forest to nourish itself or a dumpster-diving homeless person suspended in this transitional state between animal and human, or freegans trying to reestablish their human sovereignty by marking their activity as a political act. Vegetarians Interview Video (41:25) - was made in four countries using four different languages. Here I comprehend language as a "cultural" state whereas hands eating as a "natural" state (for a Westerner). The aim of the interview is to speculate about the freedom of decisions in general: the ground for the choice of not eating meat to the situations of survivalism. What to define as a threshold between the natural and the cultural in the act of devouring and speaking? How does a language as a carrier of common historical past affect this? How flexible are cultural and ethical boundaries when talking about an animal? I want to string these questions one after another embedding myself into a flow of speakers united by a common dietary present.