DIY by Anastasia Sosunova is an exhibition revolving around a video journal of a friends’ road trip to places of power in pursuit of transcendence and selfie spots, inventing a devotional DIY subculture as they go. A kind of pilgrimage exploring the ideas, symbols and values of one-man self-religion, in search of esoteric spirituality concealed behind DIY ideology and the tools that offer meaning to an otherwise chaotic world. But this fandom is, in some sense, ‘the force of things piled up in floods of stories and objects piled up on the landscape”. It is utility wear dyke fashion, carabiners, car nerds, femme gel nails and eye shadow designs of yellow-red-black colors. It’s a story that welds wellness, pole dance and scaffolding poles together inside of the rusty steel carcass yet to be cemented. All of this in anticipation of the DIY prophet: after all, everyone is building their own, private machines for salvation.
[ . . . ]
Sosunova traces the uncanny relationship between a business operation and a religion of one. This coupling of a chain of DIY stores and a spiritual system looks unlikely only at first glance. The notes and fragments form a strong bond between these spheres, as above and below. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick would see this as fertile ground for the paranoid reading to settle. As soon as one realises the profound nature of that relationship, one is struck by the fact that the tools sold in the depot were made in order to offer meaning in an otherwise chaotic world. The individualistic aspect of DIY is reflected in the fact that the Senukai cult never attracted any followers, the institutional religion features only one person, the founding father. Self-made and self-designed individuals indulge in their own private cults in their own private shelters. These are their spaces of salvation. The video is the primary narrative element of the exhibition. The visitor might get the impression of overhearing fragments of a private journal from a road trip. We see the protagonists showing up in different spaces connected with the Senukai empire. They are constantly showing up in the background. Subtle tensions between the visuals and the spoken narration force us to focus on the margins of the image, not the centre occupied by the heroines. The anecdotal is set here against the epic system, which always positions itself as central and does not tolerate the outside. The journey is a ritual, which is topographically divided into two parts, and the heroines seek initiation and knowledge. Their journey is associative, and hence open to the unexpected. After all, one can avoid paranoia through reparative reading. Sedgwick advises us to ‘surrender the knowing, anxious paranoid determination that no horror, however apparently unthinkable, shall ever come to the reader as new; to a reparatively positioned reader, it can seem realistic and necessary to experience surprise.’ The tension between these two types of reading are staged by the tension between the video and the monumental wheels positioned in the space. They hold the perfect epitome of paranoia, two surveillance cameras. It is a reliquary, holding and protecting two eyes. These objects secure the sacred body of the religion of one and its founding narrative. A perpetual loop of representation of the self-designed. This text began with the imperative of making sense of a trolley full of tools. The reason is clear. They should be used for building a shelf that will be used to store them. They will be saved.
– Daniel Muzyczuk