Zhanna Kadyrova (Brovary, Ukraine, 1981): what was your journey of discovery of the artistic languages: from sculpture to mosaics or the opposite? In particular, what kind of materials do you use for the mosaic?
I finished my art school classes in the sculpture department: it taught me a space perception thinking, but this school was an academical one, very conservative – all of the sculpture compositions that we were making were monotone, as well as the sketches we were drawing with a simple pencil. I can say that the very first and unconscious impulse that I had was to work with color. I started to make drawings with felt pens, then continued with ceramic tiles and mosaic sculpture. Of course there is also a second indispensable component: the symbolic of the material itself (the tile).
The sculpture tends to give an idea of solidity, even if it is done through the mosaic. Instead one of the most interesting things of your works is that mosaic breaks sculpture, goes into the sculpture and digs it, like a geode: the fragmentation of the object is not reconstructed, but exalted. Could you talk about your idea of mosaic?
It was truly important for me to break and to flex something that usually doesn’t break. Everything was used to see a geometrical module of an every-day tile/plate. The utilitarian and commonness of the material gave me great possibilities.
Seems to me that in your work, even in those currently exposed to the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, various influences are acting. They would be contradictory but you knew how to combine them in an original way: from pop to ready-made, from the use of poor materials to the more elaborate and shiny.
There’s attention to the beauty of things not beautiful in appearance: the cement is heavy and without grace, but in your old work, in the form of a giant cone, it becomes light and touches the headlights, or rather it comes from the headlights of an old car (perhaps a “time machine” or rather a “memory machine”). Or your fragments of asphalt hung like paintings (which remind me of an amazing series of a great Italian photographer, Franco Fontana): they are generally under our feet, we do not notice them, but so isolated and hung on the wall, they make all the poetry of their reality.
Well, could you talk about your current work at the Biennale?
In the Ukrainian Pavilion I was exhibiting two completely different projects: a documentation of Monument of the New Monument and objects of the serie No Explicit Forms. The curators of the exhibition Alexander Soloviev and Viktoriya Burlaka have selected these works.
1. In 2007 I was invited to participate in a festival of architecture of the small city of Shargorod (Ukraine). I started to work on the public sculpture Monument of the New Monument, but I had the possibility to install it only in 2009. It was very important for me that, in addition to my being a sculptor who was making a sculpture, I started to work for the first time as architect. The square where is the monument was built following my project, benches and lamps were made after my sketches. 150 square meters of pavers were put on the ground, and the gas pipe that was going throw the square was put underneath it.
Once the curators have chosen this work, there was a question up for me: repeat the sculpture or make a documentation of this site-specific. I didn’t like the usual supporting documentation (photo, video), because of its bidimensionality. The DIY hologram that we exhibited at the Pavilion accomplished in my opinion is a prior task, to show the life around an contemporary artwork in a small town. The possibility to see the work from its four sides, the possibility to walk physically around it, was a real experiment for me. I made this kind of work for the first time and many people helped me with it. Four GoPro cameras were put on each of the four sides and, synchronously, every 10 seconds, made a shoot during all day, from sunset to sunrise. Thanks to this we had a quickening day of twelve minutes with passengers, cars, animals and everything that surrounded the sculpture every day, the original sound was also recorded this way.
2. The second project exhibited at the Ukrainian Pavilion is a work of the serie No Explicit Forms. This time I materialized the immaterial view of a security camera and a video camera, that are directed on some mysterious object of the exhibition. The choice of the material is here very important, as the concrete is a rough, heavy and basic material. It was important to put it against the ephemeral view of the cameras. The idea of the work is that at the first glance the unnoticed has a great impact on our private life. There was also a connection to the Biennale as a publicized art event. Maybe a chef-d’oeuvre is hidden under the eye of the camera.
What is the situation of the mosaic in your Country? Are there other artists who use it in the contemporary sense?
The mosaic in Ukraine has very deep roots, as it is a traditional soviet element of the public space interior design. There are still some monumental signboards on the walls of different institutions and mosaic used in the bus stops that everybody can see nowadays. More contemporary mosaic can be seen in the Vinnytsia region, it is used to decorate houses. But these mosaics are more ornamental, the soviet ones are ideological.
There are not so many artists working with mosaic, some of them use it once, and then choose to move on… O. Tistol (from Kiev) made mosaic framings for his works, L. Zvezdochetova (Moscow) used tile mosaic, Artem Andreichuk (Kiev) uses tiles in his paintings, Anatoli Gankevich (Odessa) imitates mosaic in his paintings.
What are your plans for the future?
In the end of June I am making a residency in the Izolyatsia Foundation, in Donetsk (Ukraine). There I am going to make a monumental signboard out of recovered tiles coming from facade walls of the fabric. It will be a bas relief representing the contemporary city and will occupy the entire wall. Also, in my upcoming shows, I will have a solo exhibition in September entitled Crowd at the Moscow Biennale.
Vladimir Smirnov and Konstantine Sorokin Foundation
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