The Russian artists Vita Buivid and Olga Chernysheva engage in evaluating post-Soviet culture, with a methodical and impartial consistency. Nothing is rejected from the telescopic panorama and there is no hierarchy, nothing escapes the mocking irony of their gaze.
Fashion designer, Petlyura, described as ‘the king of junk’, has a collection of outmoded fashion items, acquired on a grandiose and comprehensive scale over the last 20 years. Recently this collection was assembled for a ‘junk-fashion’ shoot, the cast including Petlyura’s muse, the 70-year-old winner of 1998 Alternative Miss World Contest. The shoot was photographed by artist and photographer Victoria Buivid. Just as the fashion collection for Petlyura was a giant salvage operation, so is the exhibition, recycling her photographs as art exhibits. This archival concern is symptomatic of current Russian conceptual practice: it seeks to reclaim surviving scraps of art and, indeed, life, which were suppressed or annihilated during the Soviet regime, and to protect elements of Russian national identity that are fast disappearing under capitalism. Olga Chernysheva’s work is also concerned with re-evaluation, but this time more explicitly in the context of the wider capitalist world.
Olga Chernysheva was selected to represent Russia in the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. She selects neutral environments, such as train platforms in Europe’s metro stations, creating portrait photographs of passengers. However each person’s face remains hidden, so removing the individual identity of each portrait. Manipulating focus and camera speed, Chernyshova produces abstract images of continual fluidity, at the same time revealing alienation and raising awareness of life’s potential for the unexpected.
Victoria Buivid was born in Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine) in 1962, and lives and works in Moscow. She combines her art activities with fashion shoots and has exhibited in Russia and abroad, including; 1994, Photoreclamation, The Photographers Gallery, London; 1997, Gallery Werdermann Art, Hamburg. Her works are in Museum collections in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Helsinki.
Olga Chernysheva was born in Moscow in 1962, graduating in 1986 from the State Film Institute and in 1995 from the Amsterdam State Academy. She lives and works in Moscow and Amsterdam. She has had numerous exhibitions including: 1998, Galerie Christine Konig and Franziska Lettner, Vienna; 1997, Single Works, Galerie Singel 74, Amsterdam; 1993 Galerie Krings-Ernst, Cologne. Her work is in museum collections in Moscow, St Petersburg, MOMA, New York and in Vienna.
The ambientTV.NET collective have created a site-specific audio/visual piece to complement and respond to the work of the Russian artists. The ambientTV.net collective functions as a generative network, creating systems and spaces for the investigation and evaluation of site-specific forms. It specialises in hybrid media projects and installations. Based in London, they have made projects in Austria, Hamburg and Estonia, as well as their on-line work.