The Genetic Code of Lost Time
Solo Exhibition of Katya Shkolnik’s Works
A. Kasteyev State Museum of Arts, Almaty
Within the framework of ARTBAT FEST 6
28 August, 2015 – 11 September, 2015
Curator: Vitaly Patsyukov
This project by Katya Shkolnik looks at history as a paradoxically dynamic system, constantly in the midst of a catastrophe. Its imagery is shaped not only in the perpetual motion of the process, but also in moments of dissolution, of ruptures, shifts and evolutionary displacements that interrupt its trajectory like periods of sleep. Slowing down this trajectory in an attempt to capture history in a moment of stasis, Shkolnik turns to other systems of coordinates. When traumatized and emerging from a state of ruin, history is nevertheless able to attain a metaphysical level of calm, which restores balance and floods it with the memory of culture. Its content in this critical moment, as Jacques Derrida put it, is “revealed in deconstruction”. The technology of deconstruction forms the basis for Shkolnik’s artistic practice. The artist takes as her subject the legendary Narkomfin building of the early 1930s. Designed by Moisei Ginzburg and Ignaty Milinis, Narkomfin was intended as a model for Socialist communal living, a prototype of a unit that would make up a larger matrix of an ideal society, where all communications would be united as one, linking up in the greater harmony of the “City of the Sun.”
With her installation, Shkolnik manages to capture this inflation of ideals and the formation of a sociocultural crisis through the use of Kazimir Malevich’s metaphor “Victory over the Sun”. While preserving the inherent drama of “lost time,” the transformed object appears as something totally new, a live organism, unbeholden to any given directives. A virus infiltrates its structure, transforming into a special genetic code that allows the former Narkomfin building to achieve a deep level of personal harmony, to immerse itself in a shimmering dream-state, where functionality is defined by generosity, not personal gain. Through Shkolnik’s lens, the dilapidated constructivist structure is revealed to be a thriving artistic entity, like an alien space ship returned from the future, or an ancient temple of forgotten cultural relics. In this scenario, within the universal topography of history, civilization is united with nature, striking a harmonious coexistence through the bliss of futility, far from violence and aggression of society’s demands. Shkolnik’s installation depicts this paradoxical world of anarchic freedom, a Suprematist space that fueled the dreams of the Russian avant-garde, which, in its realization embodies the words of Malevich when he spoke of “laziness reigning,” with the harmony of natural futility triumphing over all.