Monday, November 26, 2012

Katya with a Hoop

Currently I am conducting gallery assistant job in Saatchi, for the historical show on 1960-80s Moscow art displayed on the top floor. It is a great luck for me to work there and meet the artists, but I am not here about that. Meeting Vitaly Komar, of Komar and Melamid i have suddenly realised that they have the whole pre-history of my gymnasts somewhere there. But it was hard to find illustrations. One of the paintings displayed in Sots art section of the gallery Portrait of Wife Katya with a Hoop 1972-73 attracted a lot of my attention today.
First of all, it works in a direct relation to my works that I link with the name of Alexander Deineka, Russian Socialist realist artist. Though this piece examines Soviet sexuality in relation to Russian architectural monumentalism, Monumentalism that was very big part for the Soviet society and its understanding of itself - its might, and its power of propaganda. This painting includes three archiectual phallic objects: Ostankin Tower (place where TV was and it based till now), Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower (famous for its outstanding beauty and tradition of having a government behind the wall), Monument to the First Space Flight located above Moscow Cosmos Museum - obviously space exploration was one of those big projects that held Soviets and post-soviet's pride of the country.
Also in terms of pivotal symbolism, Spasskaya Tower of Kremlin has its famous ruby-red star on its top. Space monument - includes a rocket, and Ostankin Tower - in basically a big antenna. So information, communism and technology are the stage for the body technic the woman is practicing, basically trying to become a part of a hoop circle as it seems.
What is also interesting, is the anonymity of female figure on the painting. I think it is very important - despite the fact that one can say that media today is obsessed with a persona. I think it is helpful to understand media as a process that separated person from her/his media image, and this is one of the reasons why we can start speaking about symbolic meanings in this work: apart from the title it does not point to persons. As well it produces de-individuation of the wife Kayta with a hoop - first as every other wife Katya, and then every other woman with a hoop. This is an appearance of the body of the people. (See "body of terror in the Dictionary of Moscow Conceptualism"[3.]) And also outlines one of the key lines for artistic oppositions to the Soviet state - question of the individual.
I think this piece somehow gives us clues to the understanding of the symbolic in the political education of the body. And relation of Soviet ideology to key women's sports techniques: ballet, gymnastics, figure skating. I can only say what I want to do in my work now is to go much further in this interrogation.

Dictionary of Moscow Conceptualism is brilliant:

1. It makes me consider my beloved Alina-fake as ILLUST [Illjust] – phantasm produced by various mechanisms of illustration. The Illust is a carrier of enjoyment (of lust) whose generator may be considered the “libido of illustration” (the libido of arbitrary visualization). (P. Pepperstein. Vvedenie v ideotekhniku, 1989).
2. This is interesting, but does not include enough women (Most work I do IS with women) COSMONAUTS, TITANS, FIRE-BARS, RUNTS, AND GEORGIANS [Kosmonavty, titany, kolosniki, korotyshki, Gruziny] – five “incorporeal ranks” of the Soviet collective conscious, which are represented in the sacred architectural and sculptural discourse of VDNKh [the Moscow Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy].(See A. Monastyrsky. VDNKh – stolitsa mira, 1986).
3. Consider term in the terror-paintings BODY OF TERROR [Telo terrora] – simultaneous victims and agents of a certain type of Terror that destroys bodies in order to preserve the eidetic fullness of orthodox speech, which perceives this destruction as something completely positive. (See M. Ryklin. “Bodies of Terror,” 1990).
As Ryklin argues in his “Bodies of Terror,” Bakhtin's ostensibly joyous book on Rabelaisian carnival is the product of a complex trauma. In writing about Rabelais during the Stalinist 1930s, Bakhtin was composing a requiem for the individual body. Your body, my body, became incidental, synthetic, disposable, mute-and in its place the collective body of the people was granted all the reproductive and rhetorical rights. It could not die, so others were set free to kill the individual you. But what is this “body of the people” in Bakhtin, and during the Stalinist epoch? In fact you cannot see or hear it: it is too brilliant, threatening, primeval, and depersonalized, it “strikes blind anyone who dares to glance at it.” This anaesthetizing monumentality is nowhere as richly condensed as in the Moscow subway. As Ryklin suggests, the resultant invisibility of real bodies and the blind--literally blind--faith in utopia that followed were essential for the “ecstasy of terror” to work.[124]

4. Принцип который я использую в Гагарине. CRACKED MATRYOSHKA [Tresnutaya matreshka] ­– demonstration principle (in a discourse) in which a number of internal objects belonging to a particular discourse are demonstrated without exteriorization, by means of a specially prepared demonstration section (“fissure” or “crack”). (See P. Pepperstein, Belaia koshka, 1988).

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