St Petersburg based artists’ duo, Gluklya and Tsaplya, have been working together since 1995, as the FFC (Factory of Found Clothes). Their work addresses many issues about subjectivity and self expression in contemporary Russian society. They are known for their spectacular performances, one in the attic of The Hermitage (‘107 fears’, 2001) and another where they asked a group of young Swedish business man to pose for the camera while holding little dresses in their hands (Lillevals, Stockholm, 2004).
Within the baroque church surroundings of the eighteenth century building of St Peter’s, Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimskaya) will present A Shop of Utopian Clothing where the artist will help the visitors to choose dresses and other objects. The conversation with each client will be offered as a confidential and unique service, acting like a ‘psychotherapeutic office or cabinet’. The shop will serve only one person at a time.
Each of the dresses in the show has their own name, and they have been made by Gluklya in collaboration with other artists and enthusiasts from St Petersburg. As the St Petersburg based curator, Katya Andreeva suggested Gluklya and Tsaplya’s work takes its cue from the Surrealists who ‘were the first to notice that the surface of clothes looks like an atlas or pictography. One can recall Meret Oppenheim’s picture of gloves that frighten us with their visible channels of veins.’ (n.paradoxa Vol. 9, 2002). The things in the shop try to converse with the observer about his or her desires, longings, unquenchable hopes and dreams. These things differ from ordinary objects in that they have already conversed with people (other people wore them, and the artist pondered over them).
The exhibition will also include Triumph of Fragility, a video film of a performance featuring young military sailors parading through the streets of St Petersburg holding dresses in their hands. This is one of many performances in which FFC have involved different communities of people in their events.
Gluklya (b.1969) and Tsaplya (b. 1968) exhibit internationally. Their recent shows include the Prague Biennale (2005), Art Moscow (2005), ‘Watch Out’ Art from Moscow and St Petersburg’, The National Museum of Art, Norway (2004), ‘Boys and Girls’, Zacheta Gallery, Warsaw (2004), ‘Horizons of Reality’, MNKA, Antwerp (2003). They live and work in St Petersburg, and this is their first solo exhibition in London.