Foxy Production presents New Work, an exhibition of recent photography and video by Moscow-based artist OLGA CHERNYSHEVA. Chernysheva has developed a distinctive and poetic iconography: figures are framed and constrained by doors, desks and hallways; lights form dramatic patterns; objects are entombed in covers and people are cocooned by their clothing; points of view are skewed at unexpected angles; the verticals and horizontals of cityscapes, and the geometric shapes of seemingly incidental objects take on a powerful, symbolic resonance.
In New Work, Chernysheva fuses this visual language to her native city, dramatizing the experience of loss, isolation, and renewal. Moving between empathy and voyeurism, and belief and disillusionment, she appropriates Realism to question what can be known and what can be held as truth. Recalling the strategies of artist Catherine Opie, Chernysheva here forges a critical and yet affective space within a documentary practice that grapples with the relationship between person and place.
Chernysheva’s gelatin-silver prints of the Alley of Cosmonauts, the famous avenue of statues dedicated to the heroes of Soviet space travel, wittily capture its deterioration and the seemingly wayward attempts to salvage it. With the commemorative busts tightly wrapped in material as if to protect them from the present, and blocks of stone lying every which way, Chernysheva’s camera passes a lyrical eye upon the Alley’s faded glories and fallen pride. The Monument “To the Conquerors of Space”, a modernist needle piercing the sky, seems to vainly struggle against the anarchy below it.
Chernysheva’s photographic series, Moscow Area, frames people and objects within tunnels, hallways, counters, facades, and rows of trees and light-poles. Moodily lit yet effusing a sense of impassivity and resignation, her photographs portray a city that seems to have given up it secrets: their noirish lighting, rather than creating mystery, suggests a world of surface and flatness that is paradoxically radiant and atmospheric.
Cherneysheva’s video Untitled: Dedicated to Sengai portrays a street vendor selling a child’s erasable sketchpad on a bleak city square. Opening with a close-up of the seller’s face, Chernysheva’s camera reveals a keen self-possession and determination. Demonstrating her product, the seller draws and deletes and then redraws the square, triangle and circle of Sengai’s famous painting Universe with a Zen-like demeanor.
From the Deputy is a series of black and white transparencies of a municipal public art project in various stages of decay and erasure. Forlorn and vandalized murals have been overlaid with a stenciled statement from the city chief, announcing his benevolence in commissioning the project. Presenting tensions between social policy and artistic practice, the series memorializes the work of the original artist while questioning whether autonomy is possible.
New Work is Chernysheva’s second solo exhibition at Foxy Production.
Installation photography by Mark Woods.