From being to event: young Artists talk about Thing

Anna Dyakonova07/04/22 17:34705

Pictures at an exhibition

Art: Vol’naya

Anna Kiparis, Anna Shevchenko, Andrey Fomichev, Artem Polskiy, Maria Serova, Natasha Kuzmina, Sara Levi

Place: MARCH School 2018

Thing: dusting wand
Thing: dusting wand

Vol’naya is a group of young artists who create objects and installations based on philosophical anthropology and work with intertext at the junction of such trends as poststructuralism, speculative realism, new ontology and others.

One of the projects of Vol’naya is an experimental study conducted as a part of an independent course, which became possible to implement at the MARCH School, a well-known international educational platform that gained a high reputation in Russia owing to its non-conventional approach to the study of art and architecture. Artists take under their patronage a group of first-year students — this is a prerequisite for the experiment. The principle of the project is to reveal not artistic skills, but human feelings and reminiscences.

The project is exploring everyday life as one of the most striking phenomena in the anthropology of art. The first chapter of research becomes the main artifact of everyday life — a thing.

The curator of the project is Anna Kiparis, the artist at Vol’naya. Anna writes a number of stories, each forming the basis of a future installation. Each story is an article on the way of recognizing the Thing, its behavior and qualities — the story is typed on an old typewriter, thus enabling the text of the article to become in some sense a continuation of the Thing.

Anna Kiparis giving a tour of the exhibition
Anna Kiparis giving a tour of the exhibition

The goal of the project is to find in your everyday life a thing that has special value, then carry out a series of physical and semantic transformations of it which would help to reveal one more essence of the thing. The final transformation demonstrates the installation consisting of the thing itself after its transformation, the transformation manifesto and the photo documentation of the new object.

As a participant in the experiment, I made an installation that literally continues the concept of uncovering the meaning through a transformation of the immaterial essence of the thing.

Thing: book
Thing: book

I choose a book as an object for transformation. While all the participants are working with the Thing, I am immersed in the question of what the physical transformation of a book as an object would mean. It is my favorite paperback book «Citadel» by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, read to rags. To transform it into another object is a real test of ethics. In the process of research, it becomes possible to separate the work of Exupéry from its paper carrier and indicate that the work has two ways to become an object, the first — to turn into a pocket volume, read to ribbons, and the other — into a gift copy, almost never read. In this work, I draw a parallel between the essence and the substantiality of the book as a thing and an object. In the end, the pocket volume is crushed in a blender and turned into a sarcophagus, which serves as a protection for the gift edition.

Thing: throw blanket. Lera Ostrenko, Anna Kiparis and a guest critic, artist Vladimir Arkhipov
Thing: throw blanket. Lera Ostrenko, Anna Kiparis and a guest critic, artist Vladimir Arkhipov

Throughout the twentieth century, the problem of the Thing was getting popular in science and art. The Thing finds itself in the center of the aesthetic and spiritual quest of time. Under the influence of scientific and technological progress, from just a necessary element of everyday life, a thing turns into an object of the cult of consumption, displacing traditional values. The mass appearance of «just a thing», «banal thing» first at avant-garde exhibitions, and then in museum halls becomes a sign of the twentieth century. A concrete material object is elevated to a «thing-in-itself», transcendentalism is downgraded and embodied in visually perceived Duchamp’s ready-mades. Urinals, toilet bowls and other items of the most seemingly low purpose are elevated to podiums, pedestals next to Venus and Apollo — at first with somewhat foolishly ironic submeaning and startling calculation, and then quite seriously, with an almost prayerful ritual and deep reverence. A bidet, a car, a refrigerator and a computer occupy the place of an icon in a modern civilized space. Without them, a contemporary man can no longer imagine life.

In Heidegger’s understanding, a thing is something that is devoid of soul and can reveal itself in the process of interacting with a person. A thing cannot be autonomous and self-sufficient. In addition, «a thing is understood as a carrier of its own characteristics», as a unity of a variety of sensations, as a «formed substance». But even these concepts remain incomplete for Heidegger. He believes that a thing always «opposes the efforts of thought», it is necessary to «leave a field for the Thing so that in this field it can directly reveal its materiality.»

Human life is impossible without the participation of things. They are associated with all the variety of life processes, all our «everyday choreography» (J. Jacobs). Never perceiving a thing regardless of anything, we involuntarily relate it to ourselves and the environment. In addition, things created by «human hands» have anthropometric characteristics; according to P. Florensky’s definition, they are an extension of our body, exactly correlate with its parameters in statics and dynamics. The main goal of the project is to study and rethink the concepts of «thing», «to be» and «place»; to try to see intangible, touching, hidden, sometimes absurd manifestations of things. Through direct contact with something, we will immerse ourselves in understanding its basic «material» categories that define the «aura» of something, the history of its existence; we will learn to make informed decisions, build the logic of events, visualize ideas using the techniques of rapid presentation.

Thing: the story
Thing: the story

«Perhaps the main thing in the definition of the Thing is the necessity of its existence, something that implies its appearance, «proximity», and this is the proximity not of a location, but of doing. A thing is something that is made by hands, in this sense it is «handy», always «at hand», close and achievable, and it is the closest to us in the world full of things.

There is an axiom: a thing has its time and its place. But there are things that are no longer things, they are not close to us, and it is the proximity that determines the main definition of a thing, which, for example, was given by Heidegger. Even more, this does not apply to all things: to those that terrify us, get ahead of us, those we admire, — this is not applicable.»

Valery Podoroga «The question of the Thing»

The project is based on the book by the philosopher and anthropologist Valery Podoroga, and on the experience of German, French and American art reflected in the works of Reiner Maria Rilke, Joseph Beuys, Fischli and Weiss, and Joseph Kossuth.

Photo: Natasha Kuzmina



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