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Once upon a map

Solo exhibition, 2014
Graphics, text, video, photo albums, installation
PRO Arte Foundation, St. Petersburg, 2014
Curator Natalia Khvoenkova

The «Once upon a map» exhibition happened as an outcome of my residence in the Belgian village called Maasmechelen, where I spent a month and a half. The residence turned out to be like an art production factory. We were provided with accommodation, a shared studio and a scholarship of 250 euros per week. We had to work every day from 09.00 to 17.00 except Sundays. All the completed works remained there in order to be sold later. They monitored if we worked well and made conclusions about how economically beneficial it was to cooperate with us. This created tension: at any time an artist could be sent home if, for example, the work was going too slowly, or the director did not like the piece. In the evening, we returned home on a corporate bus and, being locked in an ideal Belgian village, talked endlessly about art and shared our stories with each other.


There was a rather sad atmosphere in the residence, which I immediately felt. Almost all the artists ended up there only because in the countries with undeveloped support for contemporary art it is very difficult to make a living with artwork. It was a kind of labor camp for artists from Russia, Croatia and Serbia with an opportunity to earn at least something, so that later, at home, they would make "real" art.

While working on my project, I began to take notes, make photographs and sketches of our inner life. I wanted to reflect the ambivalent atmosphere, in which we all found ourselves. A situation of compromise, in which artists agree to conditions that they don't quite like, which put them in a vulnerable position, but at the same time which provide them with the necessary minimum to keep working.

The exhibition was divided into three parts. The first par called the «Endless map» presented the fragments and photographs of the painting project that I completed at the residence. The second part «Studio» told about our joint work, about the everyday life in a collective workshop in the public view of our authorities. The third part «Home» contained quotes from our internal conversations, sketches and photographs. Full of bitter irony, they convey the atmosphere beyond the working process. For me, this residence has become an important experience of communication and work. There I realized that a situation itself can become a material and a trigger for an artist’s reflection, that it is important to maintain a critical perspective on things and not lose yourself.

Part 1 / Map

Part 2 / Studio

Part 3 / Home

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