Stella Art Foundation

Model Range

03 - 31 Jul 2008

Installation view

Esther Achaerandio (Spain); Irina Davis (Russia); Alexander Mendelevich (Israel); Dima Valershtein (Israel)

Stella Art Foundation at Mytnaya ulitsa

July 3-31, 2008

We live in the society of both project thinking, and project behavior. The distance separating the plan and its realization is shrinking more and more, changing dramatically the temporal characteristics of everyday life. A sort of chronological "broth" appears in this process, the broth where elements of the past, the present and the future are mixed to the point of indistinguishability. Thus the notions of the model and of modeling the functioning of which was limited to the sphere of project work in the past are spreading to cover all the sphere of social practice.
Contemporary art is a peculiar area where project thinking is practically synonymous with project behavior. The symbolic nature of the aesthetical practice of the past looks deeply archaic today, and contemporary art is facing a permanent deficit of reality used as an efficient creativity catalyst. In practice it implies the creation of the images of the virtual, of the conceivable, of the projected as something that has been realized and already exists. Photography often functions as a tool of such aesthetical modeling.
Having been invented as a method of visual documentation, photography was used as one at the beginning, but later it also turned into a method of modeling. Staged shooting, for instance (unlike documentary), was not limited to the narrow sphere of artistic photography, it was extensively used in the mass media industry of "fashion and style". The transition to digital carriers witnessed during recent decades made the difference between direct and staged photography conventional. The manipulated photography of today has formed an indispensable element of all the industry involved in producing information and designing objective environment. The clear cut borderline separating the production of objects and the production of ideas is history now. The phenomenon of a model-object has emerged which actively stimulates the change of the environment represented now but its twin, a hypermimetic model-photoimage.
Photographs by the international team of artists presented at our project display a wide enough range of the modeling described above. They correlate with the only object, a human body being that image-model for the transformation of reality and, simultaneously, the first object-model symptomizing the realization of the project. The theme of the body was elaborated upon in great detail by the 1990s art, and it has appeared in a different mode today. Critical analysis has increasingly functioned as a substitute for this modeling, or, in other words, the project reaches the stage of "technological realization".
Alexander Mendelevich's works present the very first, "incubational" stage of such modeling. The degree of transformation of the "raw" human model is not high, and the depiction features just Surrealist eccentricities, such as shifts in proportions, relations and motivation correlating with the potential, non-visual layer of the aesthetical message. But it is clear that the plasticity of this psychosomatic material allows for more profound object-image manipulations.
The transition to these manipulations proper is made in the series of Esther Achaerandio. She deals with the theme of decorative surgery, or, to be more exact, uses it to demonstrate the modeling resources of the human (feminine) face. Her model, shown from the bust up, performs a convincing set of "pre-surgical exercises" which not only go beyond the limits of the routine beautification practice, but, as the artist claims, demonstrates the particular conventionality of the notions of natural and canonic beauty. Achaerandio follows in Orlan's steps designating that radical degree in the renunciation of naturalness which is rooted in the experience of hardcore deformation characterizing classic Avant-garde art. Her "grotesque heads" represent visual rhetoric which but superficially correlate with the topos of social philosophy. They look more like practical drafts for the decorative surgery of the near future based on the practice of radical body form creation brilliantly described in a novel by Stanislaw Lem.
The works of the other two project participants feature suggestions associated with gender issues, and their degree of "unreality" is so negligent that they do look like pages of some glossy magazine. Irina Davis, for instance, proposes her own version of the American pinup localization for Russia (even its title is localized - "cool" girls). The male audience will doubtlessly welcome her models, on the one hand, while, on the other hand, they face the challenges of globalization in dignified manner. The artist performs the hybridization procedure using immaculate logics of a skilful graphic designer: she makes photographs of Russian girls who reside in America amplifying her images with bogus folk surroundings in such insignificant degree that her stylized pictures can satisfy most sophisticated taste.
While Davis appeals to the modernized format of the male society, Dima Valershein makes a project of the visual produce which is adequate to the society of victorious feminism. It seems that this procedure was not an easy one for him: the irony of a half of his pictures breaks the imperturbability of the other part which produces the sought for "reality effect".
Irony is the last trace of the critical position here, while recently it was regarded as the basic strategy of contemporary art. Today it is the only thing that interferes with the integration of the actual art practice into the wonderful world of the future that has arrived.

Vladimir Levashov

Tags: Irina Davis, Orlan