Other places at Nurgul Kunarbayeva's exhibition

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Other places at Nurgul Kunarbayeva's exhibition

In the recent exhibition, curated by Nurgul Kunarbayeva in collaboration with Sergey Kamenskiy, artists explore a certain other reality that surrounds us.
The exhibition will appeal to those who appreciate contemporary art, collage works, and modern photography, as well as those who are interested in contemporary practices like performance art. The fascinating multi-dimensional techniques of the artists will leave no one indifferent. If your mind is open to new knowledge and curiosity, then this exhibition is exactly what you need. The starting point for creating the exhibition project "Other places" was the reflection of the curators on the theme of a certain alternative reality.

Curator: Nurgul Kunarbayeva
Co-curator: Sergey Kamenskiy
Exhibition Participants: Furkan Duzgun, Bora Dagal, Elizaveta Lavrenteva, Anastasia Abramova, Elizaveta Avtushenko, Alina Mishnina, Svetlana Sycheva

Contemporary art

The participants of the exhibition expand on the given theme, thereby initiating a dialogue. The curators emphasize: "Photographers, textile artists, and collage artists, using different materials and mediums, attempt to explore this space of the other, which is so familiar to us, just like our everyday life." The exhibition showcases quite diverse works by artists, but the curators have managed to create an impactful space where stories and contemplations on the given theme intertwine.

The exhibition brings together quite diverse works by artists. Furkan Duzgun's photographs present a surrealistic space of an apartment, rooms in which are distorted or imaginatively designed by an intricate creator. It feels like stepping into a fairy tale or wandering through someone's dreams, more resembling nightmares. Duzgun has long been interested in invented narratives. These phantasmagorical works created in Photoshop, with their degree of absurdity, resonate with artists affiliated with surrealism. Since then, fantastical elements supported by pseudo-documentary evidence have become part of Duzgun's artistic arsenal. These techniques can be compared to those used by renowned Moscow conceptual artists.

Bora Dağal_Song by the Sea (2021, Turkey)

Artist Bora Dagal also showcases photographs, but these depict heavenly landscapes filled with tranquility and serenity. These works are presented at the exhibition, forming an imaginary city. But that's not all: for the perfect purity of the frame, visual noise—advertisements, posters, and the like—were removed during post-production. The post-processing stage takes much more time than the actual shooting. What we see are digital photographs, refined to perfection through computer processing. Vertical and horizontal lines are aligned precisely with the digital grid, preserving all proportions. 

Architectural photographs by Elizaveta Lavrenteva are black and white, academically strict. It can be said that Lavrentieva continues the tradition of neoclassicists, as experience in their work has shaped the purity of the frame and the strictness of the style that apply to their entire body of work. The uniqueness of this series lies in its deviation from Lavrenteva's main style, which mainly focuses on classical subjects. The author himself partially sees himself as an heir to early photography, combining the surface cleanliness of Moscow's constructivist architecture with sharp angles of industrial constructions and classical Roman structures in their series.

Svetlana Sycheva

Svetlana Sycheva's works allude to abstraction, where overlapping layers of reflections contribute to the creation of multiple perspectives. The author captured modernist buildings in Moscow and European capitals. As noted by one of the curators, the exhibition reflects the artist's own perception of buildings and structures as a contemporary Moscow artist who shares the same era and has grown up and developed her style surrounded by them. This intentionally geometric, brutal, monochromatic style elevates perspective, composition, and the contrast between light and shadow to perfection. 

Anastasia Abramova, an artist experimenting with textile materials, incorporates embroidery and other forms of handicrafts into contemporary art. These techniques have not emerged recently, and their popularity continues to grow each year. In her hand embroidery, she tames the chaos of everyday life while pursuing ecological objectives. She treats fabric as an object, extending its boundaries beyond domestic and decorative functions. All of her works demonstrate that fabric is not just about floral patterns and "cucumbers," but something that goes beyond physical matter. "I wanted to present fabric as a certain life foundation. Fabric is something sacred; it is our second nature," says Abramova.

“Chaotic” Textile, acrylic paint_2021

Artist Elizaveta Avtushenko operates on intuition and employs mixed techniques of collage, painting, and drawing to create abstract landscapes and fantastical scenes, inviting viewers on a journey into her inner world. Avtushenko is not the only Russian artist experimenting, but her style is unmistakable. Pushing the boundaries of the genre, she sometimes places her works in heavy frames and combines embroidery with found objects and other small household items, creating whimsical assemblages. The abstract nature of her works seems incomplete, as if still in progress. Avtushenko's pieces exude fragmentariness, incompleteness, and multiple interpretations. 

During the exhibition opening, Alina Mishnina unveiled her theatrical performance, "I'm in the Metro." What makes this performance intriguing is that her body, clad in layers of hastily thrown-on clothing, served as the exclusive vehicle for expressing her ideas. Throughout her presentation, not a single coherent word was uttered; instead, the artist emitted a medley of sounds, akin to echoing the unintelligible hum of a subway crowd. The stage bore no additional props or elements, yet Alina masterfully captured the essence of a "body in the metro" with remarkable precision and sensitivity, depicting an depersonalized entity easily swallowed by the sea of people.

As the performance unfolded, it gradually became apparent that the narrative extended beyond the confines of the subway. It eloquently spoke of the modern individual in a bustling metropolis, where it's all too easy to become ensnared in a complex web of commitments, preconceptions, and the relentless pace of life. 

 The protagonist appeared fragile, vulnerable amidst the throng, but as the performance continued, it became evident that she was progressing toward a sense of liberation. Shedding superfluous layers of clothing, she ultimately remained in a loose-fitting tank top and confidently exited the "metro" and the stage with squared shoulders. This evoked introspection, prompting each of us to contemplate what it takes to remain true to oneself in the tumultuous "metro" of life.

Elizaveta Avtushenko: Composing Future, mixed media on canvas, 2020
Furkan Düzgün_Door you must not open 2022 Turkey

Overall, the exhibition is filled with hope and faith in the future. It is no coincidence that the text references Russian artists of the early 20th century who were actively involved in constructing a new world. All the works are inspired by the sense of presence of something other, be it a place, objects, or concepts. Each artist refers to this other place, which is difficult to name and unlikely to be found on a map.

text by Alice Gill