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OVCHARENKO represents two events that are inextricably linked and at the same time have independent meaning. This is an exhibition project "WAS / HAS BEEN" and a presentation of the artist's catalog entitled "WE ARE NOT HERE", representing a series of works with texts.
The exhibition "WAS / WAS" consists of three installations created specifically for the gallery space and photography. According to the author, the title of the exhibition describes the method of juxtaposing portraits, city views and landscapes, which has become ubiquitous now, in the era of colossally expanded photo archives. There is no peering into the bygone, there are no pricks of nostalgia - social networks and network publications are full of optimism, like advertising for dentistry: a murky monochrome past and present in RGB.
All the more paradoxical is the new work with neon that gave the name to the exhibition: glowing inscriptions "past" and "now" flank the smeared glass doors. But the difference between "was" and "now" is so conditional that the gaze is riveted to the central part, trying to penetrate the white veil of paint and understand - maybe at least something happened there? This work also reflects the model of the entire exhibition: together with an equal large-format collage on the opposite wall, they represent two flanks-propylae for approaching the image on the central wall - a large scoreboard with zeros, a "new countdown" for the "new millennium" and "new technologies" ...
However, the scoreboard looks, in the artist's interpretation, somehow suspiciously not new, but shabby and defective. The artist presents the hopes and aspirations of twenty years ago through the prism of imperfect verbs, showing the action protracted and ineffectual: it was - but did not come true. And at the same time, the works are devoid of drama, anguish and declarativeness, Bratkov reproduces the gaze of a viewer of the same age as perestroika, a generation of cold observers to whom it is senseless to impute or present something, to those on whose behalf Jacques Rancière says: “We no longer have anything to feel for guilty themselves. " The neoliberal aspirations of the past appear in the merciless light of modern reality, and instead of Fukuyama's “end of history” we see a false start: a clock with no electricity, a stepladder clamped in a film and someone's profile - a silhouette, in backlash, identification defies ...
The work of Sergei Bratkov is distinguished by filigree and witty editing, characteristic of the author already in his early work, but now deployed in the format of installations. Neon, large-format printing on film, letters and numbers appear here in a dizzyingly precise and effective ensemble, dissecting everyday reality and putting new accents and rhythms in it. And this creates the conditions for a new, analytical and emancipated personal view.
The use of neon inscriptions in the work "WAS / HAS BEEN" connects the exhibition project with the catalog of works by Sergei Bratkov "WE ARE NOT HERE", dedicated to a series of works by the artist using inscriptions. This catalog is a study in which this series goes through a complex art history, philosophical and sociological analysis. The author's team of the publication includes philologist and professor at the University of Zurich Tomasz Glants, head of the department of sociocultural research at the Levada Center * sociologist Alexei Levinson, art critic, art critic, columnist for the culture department of Kommersant Publishing House Anna Tolstova and art critic Evgenia Kikodze.
* The organization is recognized as a foreign agent
About the artist:
Sergey Bratkov is an artist, author of photographs, videos and installations. Creates reportage and staged photographs, videos, installations. Reflects the social reality of Russia and Ukraine, focusing on the lives of ordinary people. He captures folk kitsch and images of everyday life with brutal frankness and irony. Laureate of the Innovation Prize. Participant of the Venice Biennale (2003, Russian Pavilion, 2007, Ukrainian Pavilion), Manifesta-5 (San Sebastian, 2004), the 25th Biennale in Sao Paulo (2002) and many other major international projects. Biography: https://ovcharenko.art/ru/artists/31-sergey-bratkov/