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‘I Want To Reflect the Crazy Times We Are Living in, Where Everything Is Upside Down’

‘I Want To Reflect the Crazy Times We Are Living in, Where Everything Is Upside Down’

© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

On November 10th, HSE ART GALLERY opened an exhibition showcasing pieces by second-year students of the Master’s programme in ‘Contemporary Art’ under the supervision of famous Russian artist, Vladimir Dubossarsky. A special feature of the exhibition is its sound design: all the images are accompanied by compositions of sound artists, most of whom are also students of the HSE Art and Design School. They focused on the theme of forced relationships, the impact of the pandemic on the creative process, and the mixing of art forms.

The exhibition featuring pieces by eight students of the ‘Contemporary Art’ track of ‘The Practices of Contemporary Art’ Master’s Programme represented not only the culmination of a year of study, but also a contemplation of interpersonal relationships. The idea of conveying the compulsory nature of relationships was devised by the artists themselves: they also decided on the name of the exhibition and the concept of each painting.

‘Sveta Bakhareva came up with the name; this is her idea. I believe that exhibitions are done so that students can learn, so I said, “You come up with a theme”,’ says the curator of the exhibition Vladimir Dubossarsky. ‘In a sense, we have a forced relationship, and overall, it is a good topic.’

© Daniil Primak for HSE University

The HSE ART Gallery is operated by the HSE Art and Design School in Moscow. The gallery features works by both contemporary artists and students in a single space. In organising exhibitions, the gallery team involves both teachers of the School and independent curators, as well as representatives of leading cultural institutes in Moscow. HSE ART Gallery projects have been nominated for the ‘Innovation’ Prize and the Sergey Kuryokhin Award.

HSE ART GALLERY planned to present the work of the eight artists back in March, but the opening of the exhibition had to be postponed due to the pandemic. As Vladimir Dubossarsky notes, this has even proved serendipitous for the organisers, as they were able to give more attention to the concept of the exhibition.

‘I always tell my students, you are more important to me than your work. Your professional growth and your understanding are important to me, I need you to distinguish good from bad, then you will be able to develop and grow on your own. After all, this is my task – to make sure you can develop as artists yourself. I think that, all in all, we did a good job. I think all of them have grown,’ says the exhibition curator. According to Vladimir Dubossarsky, the future lies in the mix of art presented at the exhibition. ‘I believe potential lies in interdisciplinarity. When art is firmly connected with all spheres of human activity — science, politics, sociology — then understanding of the world will be comprehensive, but not private, because the more private something is, the more dangerous it is, the more often it reaches a dead-end’.

Anton Kuznetsov, second year ‘Sound Art and Sound Design’ student, Bachelor’s Programme ‘Contemporary Art’, exhibition participant

© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

We were invited to produce sound compositions for a number of pictures. My fellow students, sound-artists, were assigned to artists and certain works: they made specific compositions for each of them. Visitors to the exhibition can listen to them by scanning a QR-code. Some of us — me, Leonid Kurashov, Grigory Shmitko were involved in developing the technical solution of how it would look, and we also came up with a soundtrack, which plays continuously. Everything was compiled with purpose: we took a particular timbre from each artist that reflected their work as accurately as possible, and we compiled a sound from these different timbres. As a result, each of the three halls of the gallery has its own unique sound design. This was my first experience working with contemporary art, and it has definitely been interesting.

Olya Avstreyh is presenting a large canvas and a separate series of works at the exhibition. The artist says that her painting, ‘Picnic: based on true story’, ‘is based on a true story, but at the same time is sheer fantasy’. All my friends are depicted here, but some of them don’t look like themselves.’ And if the picture represents an already completed work, Olya continues to work on a series of canvases to ‘finish’ the material as a solo exhibition. ‘The theme of the series is carnival, a metaphysical celebration and the madness that surrounds us. In these works, I’m trying to capture the very moment – the last second — before something ‘exploded’, and something good or bad happened. I want to reflect the crazy times we are living in, where everything is upside down, so my feet fly, and people fly, too. I did not set myself the goal of reflecting 2020 in particular, but since this all somehow permeates us, now, having seen the series hanging on the wall, I realise that it is about that, too.’ The artist also admits that she had a real creative collaboration with the two students of the ‘Sound Art and Sound Design’ Bachelor’s Programme, who worked on the sound design for her paintings.

I sent references to the sound artists, they sent me drafts, I sampled a lot of my voice — laughter, yawning, whistling – and they incorporated it all in the sound tracks. I’m super happy with how it all turned out: it’s a very successful project that expanded the boundaries of both exhibitions and paintings; together they convey a whole universe

Four paintings, combining two different moods and themes — this is what viewers will see of Jenya Milyukos at the exhibition. Among them are two works from a new series by the artist, dedicated to feelings.

‘These works are not about agony, but on the contrary, a state of sadness and melancholy, which I had to face after some difficult situations. They reflect the feeling of experiencing death, the transition to death. There is a state of bardo— of being between life and death —they are more connected to that. I didn’t want to give these paintings any pretentious, pompous names, so I just called them ‘Step — 1’ and ‘Step — 2’. I think there will be a total of seven steps in this series, and each of them denotes a certain feeling.’

The ‘Forced Relations’ Exhibition will remain open at HSE ART GALLERY until December 6th. The gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12:00 to 20:00 (admission is free).

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