Temnikova & Kasela Gallery will open the autumn season with what might be called a ‘double feature’ or a ‘two-as-one’ exhibition. Two artists, both of the generation that emerged in the mid-1990s and both among the most accomplished and most widely acknowledged from their respective countries, are showing work that gives viewers new access to their oeuvres, new insight into their thinking and their working methods.
Algunas Canciones Lindas (‘Some Beautiful Songs’) is a title borrowed from an old LP of Cuban popular tunes performed in a soothingly pared-down style. Olga Chernysheva uses it as a connecting device for her presentation, at the gallery, of some 30 lens-based works, mostly analogue and digital photographs. They communicate some of her core concerns – the productive tensions between images and stories, the typical and the unpredictable, the one and the many – but have not, until now, found their place in her different series of works or even been shown in public. Chernysheva both affirms and challenges the Russian belief that visual art should be used to illustrate social processes, to ‘paint modern life’ as Charles Baudelaire would have said. What is the best way to bear witness, through engagement or through detachment? We should always look for the little cracks between what is being said and what meets the eye.
Kuidas lääs oli vasak (‘How the West Was Left’) is the title that Jaan Toomik has given his presentation, in black box built for the occasion among the stalls at Tallinn’s Central Market, of several of his shorter videos. They turn endurance performance into poems in prose or musical scores for lived reality, but whether Toomik has observed or staged these situations becomes immaterial. His protagonists – more often than not no-longer-young male characters who may or may not be him – make tangible an unease that festers under the surface of a society bent on normalising. The double-entendre of the English translation is also there in the original, as a question to self: What has changed since everything changed? It goes without saying that Estonia views the world of the last 25 years through a different optics than Russia, but what is the human condition of that difference?
While Chernysheva achieves coherence by offering ‘pages from an album’ rather than making a unifying topical claim, and thereby bores even deeper into the collective psyche she portrays, Toomik’s selection is more representative of his public persona as an interdisciplinary artist whose engagement is in his detachment. His decision to screen his videos at the old-school marketplace – a rare reminder of pre-post-Socialist life in this city – highlights their withdrawal from the social scene that conditioned them. Yet it also ‘returns the gift’ to reality, restoring it to itself in distilled form.
Olga Chernysheva (b. 1962 in Moscow, Russia) is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Moscow. Her work spans film, photography, drawing and object-based mediums, where she draws on quotidian moments and marginal spaces from everyday life as a way of exploring the increasing fragmentation of master narratives in contemporary Russian culture.
She holds a BA from the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography, Moscow. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Lunds Konsthall, Sweden; Moscow Biennale for Contemporary Art; Biennale of Museum Folkwang, Essen, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Her work is held in major collections worldwide, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Luis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, Paris; Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Russian Ministry of Culture, Moscow; Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University; Ludwig Forum fur Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany; The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo; NBK, Berlin, Germany; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Moscow Museum of Modern Art.
Curated by Anders Kreuger