“It’s Complicated” by Rostan Tavasiev
Anna Nova Gallery, St. Petersburg, Russia
March, 14 – April, 30, 2013
One used to connect Russian conceptual art with such names as Andrei Monastyrsky and Collective Actions Group, Dmitri Prigov, Ilya Kabakov or Viktor Pivovarov. Whether it`s dark and thoughtful or kitschy and sarcastic, conceptual art from Russia is always a serious philosophical statement; we used to know it in that way. That`s why it’s refreshing when we stumble upon the work of young Moscow conceptual artist Rostan Tavasiev. Contrary to severe reality of Russian conceptualism, Tavasiev`s world is extremely cute and lovely. The artist creates characters using stuffed animals and introduces them into real life as an observation of what will happen during their lives as individuals. At first glance the way how we define art objects is investigated because Tavasiev has an ability to turn a gallery into a toy store. But the point is that the artist chooses a very special language for the expression of his ideas. The stuffed animals he uses are an Aesopian language. The plush toys help Tavasiev to get into touch with his audience and address important unspoken issues, encouraging people to sympathize and trust them as well as the artist.
Art for Tavasiev is an avenue to research the world around him just like a child does through curiosity. In his previous Hippopart Project, he examines drawing by using plush stuffed animals as tools for mark making and then filmed a short lecture about the nature of his artistic method. Another project involved a huge fluffy mammoth sculpture resembling a toy which was hung off a five-story building of a remote Siberian town called Nazarovo. The work got a name Sleeping Mammoth because the mammoth was said to to resemble a sleepwalker without any certain ideas or goals.
“It`s Complicated” at Anna Nova Gallery in St. Petersburg is Tavasiev`s first solo exhibition and a new social experiment. In this exhibition Tavasiev emerges his past artistic endeavors into the realm of virtual reality. Seven stuffed characters share the gallery space with a video projection, symbolizing a dispersion moment of the objects’ creation. The stuffed characters exist as stoic sculptures in the gallery while their lives transcend boundaries in the world of social media on the internet. Each character has as account on Facebook, allowing them to communicate with audiences from the art world. The artist refers the exhibition to the idea of Pygmalion myth. During the exhibition they live online and hold discussions that comment on the ar tworld, attempting to earn their place in art history.
-Contributed by Karina Abdusalamova