«About me, please, about me»

Why do young artists frequently focus on autoreflexion? Student’s works often represent portraits of the authors themselves. Is this gesture a reaction to contemporaneity, when an attempt to understand what is happening is doomed to failure? Or is it a response to the process of integration into the art system? A symptom of growing up?

About me, please, about me combines the works of young Russian artists, where the narcissism of artists is portrayed through two opposing optics — aesthetic and anti-aesthetic. The pure image can be found in the gap between the imagination of artists and their desire to reflect reality. This situation is caught by the artist's cameras that capture the «blitz snapshot» of reality, i.e dual optics. The first one refers to fiction — to what is beautiful, elegant and harmonious, the second one seeks to underbelly of reality — to what is unpleasant, uncomfortable and even comical. The binary focus registers split perspective and leads to the polyphony of the image itself: beautifully-ugly, poetically-prosaic and deeply-superficial, but always self-referencing. Duality of the image is revealed through the optics of intent look – at yourself, at others and around. And it means that other's view as an own vision forms the fluidity of the image. Artists’s camera captures a narcissistic body, which requires the gaze of the other, for whom it poses. Artists hold mirrors in their hands, where reflects: eyes, lips, hair, hands – they look into their own reflection.

On the axis of the aesthetic optics occurs the figure of 'idealist', who transforms the real. This is how Anna Prikhodko, Polina Rukavichkina, Olga Vorobyova, Katya Dikova, Yanina Chernykh and Natasha Timofeeva act, whose aesthetic is not reactionary, but imaginable. Polina Rukavichkina grasps the act of pure gaze, when a child's face becomes a surface for inner reflection. Anna Prikhodko’s image reflects simultaneously through the glass-mirror in herself and in the viewer. Natasha Timofeeva knocks on her past, but from the present. Aedicule is a joyful artist’s hymn to youth and beauty, when a graceful body glories its perfection and allows the viewer to enjoy his presence. Olga Vorobyova’s story is the private artists’s dreams about her own lost image, returning to the Girl who used to be. She is trapped in the gap between the real and fantasy, as the Katya Dikova’s camera walks along the paths of fragmentary children's consciousness, being inside and outside of image. The same blurriness between dream andnnreality can be found in Yanina Chernykh work, When no one hears artist plunges into her own imagination.

On the other side — anti-aesthetic ‘realist’s’ optics, when reality remains intact, and it is captured what it sees: Rubens’ body in gold draperies (Polina Musica), artist's alter ego (Maxim Medvedev), fashion looks in post-Soviet aesthetics (Vera Barkalova & Ssanaya Tryapka ) or young night owls on the streets (Arnold Veber). Baring body, Polina Musica seeks to capture the vitality of entity, but it does not manifest in the staged interiors with vine. Expansive nudity turns into thick narcissism, starving for outsider's eyes. Vera Barklova&Ssanaya Tryapka put contemporary Russian identity on models — glamorous gop style in the midst of post-Soviet devastation, than poverty works on their success. Maxim Medvedev’s self-portraits imitate sincerity, but poses and mannerism appears a staged portrait of the artist as a young man. Zhenya Muzalevskiy intensively extends the space around by the Dionysian leap and verified architectural composition jumps out of the sustainability of any medium, expands the boundaries of his body. Arnold Veber’s oblique angles, deliberate poses and black-and-white photography reveal aesthetic view and obscure the real.

Both aesthetic and anti-aesthetic optics of the peering view are locked in artificial, inward dendism. As the different perspectives are the mixture of this vision, any judgment becomes meaningless and somewhere between them emerges an independent image.

Elena Konyushikhina