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Nastya Shensnevich. Environmental Education

26.01.2023 – 15.03.2023

Curator: Kirill Spasskov

Participants: Nastya Shensnevich

How is it that before I became who I am, I was not, and that one day I will cease to be who I am?

Close your eyes ... And there, in the depths, behind eyes closed, once again close your eyes.

Wim Wenders


Environmental Education – this is a school subject, which gives kids basic knowledge about the world around them. When kids grow up, they have to know how the world works, to be aware that it is fragile, so that they treat it with responsibility and care.

Kids become adults, but luckily not all of them do, at least in the meaning we put into it. Adults are usually pragmatic, focused on the “necessary” goal attainment, and serious self-assertiveness. They care about rationality and consistence, competitiveness, and accuracy of judgments that correlates with what most people think. Those who somehow do not fit into the behavior patterns get misunderstood, disapproved, and reprehended. This is how things have always been and how they are going to be. It looks like humans cannot exist on Earth otherwise. And still, some representatives of the Homo sapiens sapiens are born quite the opposite. Their otherness and inconsistent feeling that they are what they are is quite natural. This directness seen in their child-like amazement about the rules and standards of thinking, which are common among us the adults, have nothing to do with contraposition – it is just mere curiosity and admiration.

Artist Anastasia Shensnevich graduated from the Stieglitz Academy in 2022 with her graduation work “Pigeon House”. The “Environmental Education” exhibition at MYTH Gallery is a remarkable stage of this emerging artist’s development and also a summing up of the previous searches.

Her first publicly presented work “The Fairy” was showcased at the Pirate Exhibition in 2019. And this first statement demonstrated all the sincerity and disengagement of the artist. The deep sensation of the existence fragility is intentionally screened with the aesthetics of the naive drawing. Easiness of reflection and lightness – but not lightweightness – of phrasing interrupts our usual consumption of “those pictures at the exhibition”. Some would take it for intended childishness or poor drawing manner, but those aware of the artist’s biography and the context of her work, and her creative career, even if they belong to the experienced audience, will come to understand many senses encoded in this piece. I assume, the visitor’s attention to the author is where the unintentionally drawn line runs – between perceiving and appreciation of the art in general and the community’s definition of what art should be like in our country.  

The three-dimensional “Environmental Education” composition, which today is demonstrated in these rooms, shows us SOMETHING, but what is it exactly?

The installation is made with minimalistic means and embraces few uniquely designed pieces that arrange the space. It is established not thanks to some decorations or architectural solutions – the artist’s works are the basis here. And they do need careful examination. Each of the pieces seem fragmentary – they are like elements from one’s night dreams remembered occasionally. They are not specifically or directly related to each other, and there is no fundamental scenario for one piece being continued in another. Glass curved reliefs feature a sleeping shepherd girl flying above the field and dreaming about the field where she tends her sheep and feeds birds day after day, and her rake flying along. Tin basin fountains filled with black soil designed for bathing are crowned with totally phantasmagoric pieces cast of steel and bronze. Unknowingly, one can hardly understand all the semiotics of signs and symbols, but can make some wild guesses and try to read into them. “The Beasts (The Good Ones)”, who seem to have come from the postapocalyptic future, stand in contrast with the almost unsubstantial glass reliefs and yet they do not stand against them, but “proclaim there existence in the world”, becoming an element of the dream the author immerses us in. There is also an old pioneer drum which reminds the visitors that at a certain moment they will have to wake up. 

The central piece of the composition is the “Pigeon House” – a mysterious multifaceted object with weird windows. Its purpose is to act as a portal between This world and That world. As soon as the visitor opens its doors, he or she can see the hovering birds. The visitors have no chance of getting inside that place (at least as long as their physiology is stable). They cannot fly away with the birds. And this inability makes the general concept of the internal human conflict – the human attachment to material things – close.

Yet, the artistic statement is made integral with some other means. The seeming fragmentarity is made one not thanks to pragmatism and consistency. It is uniqueness and irrationality of everything used a starting point for creation of images and objects as we see them that have done the trick. All the fogginess and mysteriousness here catches up the viewer and covers them inside the cocoon of their own dreams they have hardly shared with anyone.

By the way, you might wake up not where you have expected to.

Kirill Spasskov

Photo: Dmitry Mnogolet

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