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‘Humans Are No Longer at the Top of the Hierarchy’

In June, the HSE ART GALLERY opened the final exhibition under the general curatorial theme ‘In a Land Faraway’. The exhibition displays the best works by students, graduates, and lecturers of the HSE Art and Design School created over the past year. Thousands of artists applied to participate in the exhibition.

This year, the project’s participants consider the theme of peaceful coexistence and equality between every form of life on our planet through the prism of post-humanism and post-anthropocentrism. The title of the exhibition—‘In a land faraway’—has two meanings: a hierarchy of creatures in biology and a metaphor for a magical fairy-tale world. Alexandra Kuznetsova, Head of the Contemporary Art Practices Master’s programme at the HSE Art and Design School and curator of the exhibition, says that the theme emerged a year ago. The original plan was to showcase a fragment of the exhibition at the Venice Biennale at the same time, but this did not work out.

Alexandra Kuznetsova
© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Alexandra Kuznetsova says that ‘the theme “In a land faraway” corresponds to the Venice Biennale theme “The Milk of Dreams”. We are talking about the end of the Anthropocene Era, where man was at the centre of the world, colonising ruthlessly and domineering everything around him—nature and animals—trying to rebuild the world according to his needs and desires.’ This position is now becoming impossible, Alexandra Kuznetsova notes. ‘This attitude obviously leads to disastrous consequences, and modern philosophers speak of the coming of the Post-Anthropocentric Era, where humans are no longer at the top of the hierarchy, being equal to all other objects, animals, and people. Everyone is now equal.’

The final exhibition brings together works by students, graduates, and lecturers from different areas of study at the HSE Art and Design School. It features installations made by representatives of programmes such as Communication Design, Event Design. Theatre and Performance, Animation and Illustration, Game Design and Virtual Reality, and more.

Katya Krasnoborodkina
© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Katya Krasnoborodkina, a graduate of the Communication Design programme, reflected on the post-human era in her work ‘Post Perception’. The artist has invented an original way to visualise the trajectories of living beings. This way helps to see not just the shape and static image of any creature, but a whole mass of matter moving through space. ‘This is a work about a kind of remnant in the form of a digital entity, which embodies the entire remnant of digital human intelligence. Everything I represent in my images is a way of perceiving the world, the natural processes of the natural remnant through the digital. I analyse the life process of different creatures—from microorganisms to mammals,’ says Katya Krasnoborodkina.

Yulia Manuilova (left)
© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Yulia Manuilova, a first-year student in the ‘Event Design. Theatre and Performance’ programme, presented a performative installation called ‘Fracture Artifacts’. ‘It's a sculpture made of rubbish to represents the original cellular structure. We imagined that 57 years ago, zones began to form on Earth that were beyond the physical spatial laws of our planet. Each zone was inhabited gradually by its own microorganisms, creatures, and artefacts. One day, the anomaly of humanity came into existence, but nobody—neither microbiologists nor paleontologists—knows what exactly happened. People faced a choice—to destroy the anomaly or to help these organisms to integrate into our environment and live together with our nature. Humanity has chosen the second option.’

Polina Sergeeva
© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Polina Sergeeva, a graduate of the Animation and Illustration programme, used ceramics for her graduation work ‘Enchanting Animals’. It was the material that best suited her idea. ‘I explore the microcosm—its different phenomena, animals, the way they interact with each other. It is just amazing! I believe people should turn to this world to create the same harmony in their environment as these animals do,’ Polina Sergeeva explains. The artist also says that it is difficult to predict the final result when working with ceramics. Had she had the opportunity to complete these pieces once again, she would have baked them differently. ‘All in all, I'm happy with how they look now, especially given that I have been making them for a year, so the collection is being gradually expanded, and this series will continue to grow.’

Sofia Kildigulova
© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

Sofia Kildigulova is a first-year student in Communication Design. The idea for her work ‘Accommodation’ came to her when she saw pigeons drinking water from a puddle with cigarette butts floating in it. The artist decided to reflect on the adaptability of birds sharing the urban space with humans. ‘I wondered what would happen to birds. When thinking about the future, everyone is more likely to imagine what will happen to humans rather than other living creatures. These thoughts led me to believe that birds might mutate and become what they eat,’ the artist says.

Visitors appreciate the unique atmosphere of the exhibition space created by its curator, Alexandra Kuznetsova.

Andrey Artemiev
© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

‘I really like the style of the installations displayed here. I also appreciate the curator’s efforts— the way the space is decorated. As a designer, I always notice such things. Overall, the space and works are very impressive; everything fits harmoniously,’ says Andrey Artemiev.

Daniil Kurguzov
© Daniil Prokofyev/ HSE University

‘The atmosphere is very interesting and cool. There are a lot of different and extravagant people, and it's nice to be among them,’ agrees Daniil Kurguzov. ‘I feel like I’m among like-minded people here. I like the idea itself and the name—"In a land faraway”. I have studied design and I know what creative constraints are like. These works inspire us to step outside the box and to see how things can be different.’

The exhibition is open until August 14.

HSE Art Gallery, 12 Pionerskaya Ulitsa, Paveletskaya Metro Station.

Admission: free.

Opening hours: 12 pm–8 pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

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