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Diana Machulina | Postcommunism: exquisite corpse

Exhibition 7 − August 14, 2016
Communist project has failed but it continues to be the subject of comparison for what had succeeded it. The past is always reevaluated from the perspective of the new times and becomes easy to manipulate with. For some people communism looks like an alternative that allows to make the world better, for others it's a basis and a justification of new purges. In my lifetime I only saw the very end of the communist project. I was born in the USSR, the country that ceased to exist. I'm now in Montenegro that once was the part of Yugoslavia. What were these countries like?
In the past decades verbatim, a direct speech of a person, has become one of the ways to struggle with myths often replacing the truth. In this project, trying to understand what communism was like, I ask people of different age groups and walks of life from various countries what they remember of that historical period. The collection of interviews remind me the game “cadavre exquis” created by French surrealists: it's a sort of collective project when each participant finishes the line of a poem not knowing what the previous line was and what comes next. The views expresses can be at the opposite end of the spectrum from nostalgic and full of pain that only proves that the communist project with its attempt to implement the ultimate justice was a mistake.
The pictorial part of my project visually summarizes the collected words and deeds. Factual details and individual stories and emotions are compressed in a visual image. In such pieces as “Tunnel” and “Slavic brothers” that refer to Yugoslavia and the USSR, I use a formal method invented by Eric Bulatov, a prominent sots-art artist. In this technique an illusionary space of an image clashes with the slogan or symbol inscribed over the image thus creating the effect of Orwell –like double meaning. But the paradox is that the symbol becomes real, even gets the fleshy. A framed portrait of Tito's goes over the image of a tunnel in the mountains – one of many that were constructed under Tito's rule who realized the importance of communication speed. What is it – an exit from the tunnel or inability to exit? Another piece represents an Ukrainian tale about the animals who lived together but did not exterminate each other and where a wolf is feeding the rest. The image is framed in a kitsch souvenir bag from Andreevsky street in Kiev. The same frame becomes the part of a real wolf that symbolizes a faked patronage and an inevitable physical extermination. Another painting entitled "I can't get no satisfaction," presents the image of a revolutionary action inserted into a symbolized ancient imagination about the world rests on an elephant which in its turn rests on a turtle. People change slowly. A step ahead is possible for people when history is ready to move on. It's important not to miss this moment in history.
Galleries at the exhibition