RUSSIAN CONTEMPORARY ART BIENNIALS EUROPE
Four Russian contemporary artists, Tatiana Akhmetgalieva, Alexander Gurko, Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov explore the theme ‘Patterns of the Mind’ in the 2011 Turku Biennial, held at The Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum in Finland.
The four artists were chosen by one of the Biennial’s six curators, Elena Kolovskaya, who is also the Director of the Pro Arte Foundation in St Petersburg, Russia. The Russian artists are exhibiting alongside fifteen other contemporary artists from Europe, all of whom created new works for the exhibition.
Four Russian artists to watch
Tatiana Akhmetgalieva’s work Whisper is a series of portraits depicting different emotional states such as tension, surprise, joy and shyness. Stitched with bright green thread on a black canvas background, the textile profiles seem to almost glow in the dark. As curator Kolovskaya writes in her curatorial essay, “Whisper is the name of [the] work, but it screams in the face of every viewer unable to pass it by without being touched and dazzled by [the] strong emotion captured in the intimate exhibition space.”
Akhmetgalieva is originally from Siberia, but now lives and works between St Petersburg and Moscow. While she combines different media in her installations and uses video art extensively in her work, her primary medium is thread. Using embroidery and sewing techniques, she creates both small wall-mounted pieces and large scale installations. In 2010, she was shortlisted for the Kandinsky Prize with her project The Chrysalis Stage. She also exhibited Klotho, portraits of workers on semi-transparent pieces of cloth, at the first Ural Industrial Biennial in 2010.
Currently studying at St Petersburg State Academy of Arts and Industry, Akhmetgalieva has already participated in numerous shows including a recent group exhibition at London’s Calvert 22 and a solo presentation at Helsinki’s Galerie Forsblom. If interested, you can click here to read more about Tatania Akhmetgalieva on her website.
Alexander Gurko creates his art by rebuilding and adapting technological devices. His contribution to the Biennial, called The 2-Bit Counter, is a digital counter built from an old telephone switchboard, and it provides viewers with both a visual and acoustic experience. The audience can observe the mechanical movements of the components and hear the sound compositions of the clicking relays. The artist uses the binary system, in which all figures are represented using only the digits “O” and “1”, to move the components and produce sound.
“The 2-Bit Counter gives birth to a curiosity even among the most technologically challenged skeptics. It gives the spectator a view into the wonderful world of nerdy intriguing devices and their fascinating components. But to view the innermost parts and components of mechanical devices and compile information on how mechanical systems work and are built also becomes a metaphor for the human mind and its complex structures,” writes Biennial curator Elena Kolovskaya.
Gurko is an artist and designer specialising in technology-based art creation. He was born in the Ukraine and has lived and worked in Russia, but is currently based in Germany, where he studied at the Kassel Academy of Fine Arts. Previous works, in which he composed soundscapes from the whirring noise of hard drives and other moving components, include Concert for 10 Blinds (2004), BeggingBot (2007) and Jukebox (2010).
Watch the video below to see Gurko’s early technological work, BeggingBot, which creates music using used floppy and hard disk drives.
Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov
Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov have been working together since 1990 and for the Turku Biennial they have created site-specific works which involve them drawing directly onto the walls of a gallery or other space with felt tip pen. In Academic Graffiti, their contribution to the Biennial, they draw in a style reminiscent of Renaissance masters, making use of their familiarity with human anatomy. Kolovskaya states that the work is “like a never-ending thread to be followed into eternity, like the paths of our linear or swirling thoughts.”
Gubanova and Govorkov trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg, Russia, but later broke free of their traditional training to explore different media. They produce large scale geometric works, video art and live performance projects which combine traditional Russian iconography with modern abstraction. Besides showing work in St Petersburg and Moscow, they have exhibited around the world including in “Filtering the White Noise” in New York and “The Space of Options” at Barbarian Gallery in Switzerland. Most recently, they exhibited in the 54th Venice Biennale as part of a Russian art project called “We Are Here”.
About the Turku Biennial
Turku Biennial 2011 is an international exhibition of contemporary art bringing together artists from Russia and Europe. It began in 2003 and is held at the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum in Turku, Finland. Two floors of the museum are dedicated to the exhibition, which runs until 9 October 2011.
Nineteen artists were chosen by an group of six curators, each from different countries, and the full selection includes Daniel Andersson, Thom Vink, Essi Kausalainen, Cia Rinne, Magnus Bärtås and Hyun-jin Kwak, Magdalena Dziurlikowska, Kajsa Dahlberg, Tatiana Akhmetgalieva, Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov, Alexander Gurko, Ana García-Pineda, Rubén Grilo, Job Ramos, Ignacio Uriarte, Sissi, Giulio Frigo and Mauro Vignando.
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