Uncertain Times as Catalyst for Artistic Creation
Through the Lens of Visual Art, Fashion & Art Production

Aaron Smyth “Caoineadh na Maighdine”, Single Channel Video, 2020 from “Solve the Equation?” Pavilion at The Wrong Biennale (2023)

The ancient Chinese said, “God forbid you to be born in an era of Change,” which is probably true if one aspires to lead a quiet, peaceful, and fulfilled life.

Artists are something else. They are willing to go through any transition or turmoil as long as it transports them a step closer to the essence of existence, to the fundamental ‘why’ of our being.

From such an artistic perspective, uncertain and turbulent times, as marked by a global pandemic, natural disasters, and multiple political conflicts, are counterintuitively the most fertile soil for facing who we are as a collective and at an individual level, and thus – a high time for artistic discovery.

Artpil presents the work of a few captivating creators in various fields of art practice, including those who are used to staying behind the scenes: art curators and art producers. We explore here how the creators’ work was influenced and unprecedentedly inspired by the recent cataclysms.

Art Curation/ Production

Alexandra Orlova is a vivid figure in contemporary art curation who seized the opportunities of recent global changes to explore digital realms and provide a much wider and, importantly, more experimental and democratic platform for emerging contemporary artists. Her recent work for the 6th edition of The Wrong Biennale (an international independent biennale founded in 2013 in Spain) is exhibited from November 2023 until March 2024. is an exceptional example of this approach of embracing the crucial challenges of the contemporary context. This biennale is sometimes seen as a digital response to the Venice Biennale, and its audience comprises millions of people thanks to the ease of distribution of digital art, which represents an unparalleled opportunity. Alexandra takes the most pressing problems of modern human psychology – trauma, difficult social memories, and personal stories connected to them – and turns these into fuel for her exhibitions. The theme of her pavilion at the Biennale, “Solve the Equation?” intertwines with the digital art rooted in numbers and remains open to interpretation by each of the artists in the pavilion.

 

“The Emoji Spectrum: A Journey into Complex Feelings” by Siarhei Yazlavetski, 2023

Aleh Razhkou, an acclaimed art producer who was invited by Alexandra together with the artist Siarhei Yazlavetski, to present their artist/art producer collaboration titled “The Emoji Spectrum: A Journey into Complex Feelings” at the Biennale, as part of “Solve the Equation?” Pavilion. Aleh Razhkou’s approach as an art producer is characterized by challenging the status quo on widely discussed contemporary issues; in this case, human emotions and how these relate to social networks and messaging apps. Modern communication is becoming more and more digitalized, which can be seen as an expansion of our ways of relating to each other, swiftly cutting through any distances and increasing our number of connections in geometrical progression. Aleh Razhkou and Siarhei Yazlavetski, on the other hand, point out the gap of emotional nuances and subtlety of expression which often get lost in this accelerated world of digital communication. Siarhei Yazlavetski created a series of new sets of emojis, or “smiles,” that transcend the usual choice of emoticons and express even the feelings that are not yet named. Siarhei uses his background in MSc in Applied Neuroscience and MSc in Artificial Intelligence to conceptually and technically execute this exceptional and groundbreaking digital art. Aleh Razhkou’s and Siarhei Yazlavetski’s interpretation of the theme “Solve the Equation?” of the pavilion can be then seen as imagining the world of human feelings in the modern digital world as an Equation that all of us are trying to solve to achieve balance and happiness in the life of ever-increasing pace.

As an art director, Aleh Razhkou also recently collaborated with the digital art curator Natalia Knorre to create the online show comprised of 19 emerging digital artists, painters, video artists, and photographers from 5 countries.

Natalia Knorre, known for her holistic approach to contemporary art curation, curated the show ‘Dreamscapes’ with the intention of exploring the intersection of our dreams and the uncertain times we find ourselves in. Do people start to have different dreams as we go through such transitions in history? This is an interesting and unexpected question to ponder. Natalia is known for posing such complex questions that emerge at the intersection of philosophy, neuroscience, and history. As a society navigating global challenges, we have aspirations and dreams, and perhaps these largely influence the future of our common reality. ‘Dreamscapes’ became a much-needed platform for dialogue on the role of dreams in times of upheaval, presented by an exceptional array of art mediums and creative concepts. Through this exhibition, Natalia reinforces the idea that, even in uncertain times, artistic creation can act as a powerful force, offering solace, inspiration, and a collective vision for a better future.

 

Rim Assad’s brand MNE.LЁN

Fashion

As cultural conflicts escalate, fashion creators are dedicated to crafting garments that embody the values of diversity and inclusivity. Rim Assad’s brand MNE.LЁN is established in the blend of Belorussian and Syrian cultures and the local materials of their lands. Being a descendant of both cultures, Rim Assad is dedicated to using local resources, as her brand supports traditional craftsmanship by creating networks of hand-picked local craftsmen in traditional weaving techniques to create intricate trims for the pieces. The linen cloth is also sourced locally in a sustainable way, thus allowing for full control over the product quality and significantly reducing the carbon footprint.

The brand celebrates the exquisite crafts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe through intricate detailed patterns, complex architecture and silhouettes while maintaining the minimal aesthetic of fabric and colour. MNE.LЁN is inspired by traditional folk costumes, the elegance of natural linen is combined with decorative techniques from Syrian and Belorussian cultures, creating a harmonious co-existence of diverse traditions. It is something which we strive towards as a global collective, and such brands as those created by Rim Assad contribute to understanding and embodying this principle through something so close to our skin as the clothes we wear.

 

Re-discover Communication, photography by Nikolay Semenov, 2021

Visual Art

Nikolay Semenov is a talented photographer from Moscow, with a keen sensitivity for subtle emotions, philosophical quests, and the presence of the unseen in everyday objects and scenes. Throughout the recent challenging times, he dedicated a lot of his time and effort to the Center for Curative Pedagogics (CCP), a non-governmental non-profit organization. In this role, he engaged in social support and volunteered his time to help children and young people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Nikolay feels a close connection to these people and their inevitably special and subtle relation to the world around us that often might reach a few levels deeper compared to other people. As part of his authentic portraiture projects, Nikolay captured people on stage at the performance at the boarding school theatre for children with hearing impairments in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The series of black and white photographic artworks titled “Rediscover Communication” is deeply touching, creating an instant connection with the viewer through contrasts, expressive gestures, and accents of light on the subject’s eyes. Nikolay is able to capture the deep authenticity of people with disabilities and create more inclusivity and space for them in the world of art.

 

Stills from “The Unknown Diary”, by Sofia Malemina, 2’49” (2022)

Multimedia Art

Sofia Malemina is a London-based multimedia artist working in the mediums of video and audio engineering, virtual reality, and interactive installation. Her recent work, “The Unknown Diary,” is an intriguing and alarming commentary on the digital social media lives of contemporary young people all around the world. This short-meter film reveals Sofia’s fascination with the concept of Simulacra and Simulation (1981) essay by Jean Baudrillard. The artist believes we have entered a new digital era, as the philosopher has predicted. Humanity is consumed by screens and the direction of their online replications. The contours of online and offline, reality and fantasy, forbidden and legal are blurred, and the viewer no longer distinguishes real life from staged scenes from pure imagination. The artist questions if these distinctions exist to begin with, or does everything comes down to Nothingness, which Sofia is aspiring to capture through constantly synthesizing disciplines in a search for innovative forms of non-commercial art. Sofia views the lens as an intricate tool to spy, view, point out, replicate, direct, and discover and she is boldly representing the new digital generation of performers, gaining inspiration from the contemporary dangerous phenomenon of being consumed by screens, leaving the questions open for the audience and herself.

Text by Inessa Garder

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ARTPIL / Prescription .147
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This diverse selection of photographs in this annual award is a window to the world, revealing fascinating points of...
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For its 15th Edition, Artpil proudly announces the 30 Under 30 Women Photographers for 2024.
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Jan 15 – Jun 9, 2024
Experience the power of artistic community with BAM’s program. As bands play, dancers whirl, voices raise, and audience members...
+
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Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family...
+
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Various Engagements / 2023–2026
Nan Goldin is known not only for her talent and visionary career, but also for her uncompromising social commitment....
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February 15–25, 2024
The Berlinale is a place for dialogue and the exchanging of ideas. The international situation once again prompts us...
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