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Vanishing points

30.07.2021 – 04.09.2021

Curator: Anastasia Kotyleva

Participants: Alina Kugush, Alexander Veryovkin

MYTH Gallery together with the INTERVAL project for the support and development of contemporary art presents an exhibition of Alina Kugush and Alexander Veryovkin – the curatorial project of Anastasia Kotyleva, the finalist of the project.

Before working on this exhibition, artist Alexander Veryovkin, artist Alina Kugush and me (Nastya Kotyleva) barely knew each other and I believe we hadn’t ever had a chat. It all started because of INTERVAL project – at that contest, artists below 40 could send their portfolios for curators to look through their applications and find someone they would like to work with. The exhibitions suggested were considered by the expert jury. Looking back at that process, I recon the subject of dates that resulted in Vanishing Points exposition had no chance but have been put on the agenda. A call for applications is like a dating site with extra bureaucratic tools. How can you choose? I don’t invent exhibitions but usually wait for them to emerge as something inevitable that the time has come for. On the other hand, lists of contestants are so dull and monotonous that they seem to repell anything venturesome. Instead of a project concept, I had to hastily outline some not too intricate rules – there could be two of you, we might have met, I might have remembered one or two of your works, friends of a friend, and someone aware of dealing with vulnerability. This is how it came to Alina Kugush and Alexander Veryovkin. This essay addresses you both in the first place. This is a dedication that goes before the main story.

To Alexander Veryovkin. A photograph can giveaway its author’s visual experience, although I don’t quite understand how it works. Watching your art I can’t stop thinking about many other photographers who you seem to continuously dialogue with. Recurring use of the same methods and encyclopedic meagrness must have come from Bernd and Hilla Becher. Photographic diaries by Nan Goldin – whenever her models spot the camera, they still act naturally. Wolfgang Tillmans – it is his art of capturing sensuality of everyday things with people being amazingly spontaneous and ingenuous in his focus. Sarcastic and sharp-eyed Martin Parr – the reality he prefers to imprint seems to be made of ostentatious, awkward and funny things. I am under the impression that for every series of yours you find a special optics or an approach that can be considered in terms contemporary photography. At the same time, as soon as your works are printed I feel like just watching them over and over as if for the first time ever noticing how much one picture can hold.

I really don’t know how you’ve managed to catch the naval mariners gazing meditatively into the distance – reality is rarely that scenic. I can’t help but marvel how objects in your photos hide something – as if you’ve caught them red-handed by your camera lens. I can’t believe how intense emptiness can be. However, the most fascinating thing is that your photographs (or sets of them) are not a trace of a meeting but something more. Saving the drama of a date or an event, they keep it even after everybody has left the scene.

To Alina Kugush. When we first met, you showed me some graphic works you had made thinking of filter bubbles. Adheres to all kinds of confessions, political programs, and subcultures, people who explore all kinds of enjoing themselves as well as those who prefer shutting it out have their ways of obtaining information. Their world views are different but they use similar means to ironclad their understanding of reality. Homeopathy fans and GMO-phobes will send you plenty of hyperlinks or retell a few TV shows in favor of their apprehension. It appears that ignoring things that contradict your beliefs and retreating yourself into a bubble is quite easy.

In a year, you’ve come up with so many new works, but it looks like they are all joined by your interest in code conversion – using some knowledge forms to encode the other ones. Flowers announced by your imaginary dates transform into creatures from old myths – a bluebonnet becomes a centaur fighting a hydra; an edelweiss becomes a lion jumping as a sciapod on one paw. Insects that you project yourself into in your House of Bugs are capable of changing the march of history or at least of influencing fashion, despite the fact that they are bugs, errors. It might all be a story of popping the bubbles – or multiplying them until they become a hood of bath foam.

I’ve known from the very start that Alina Kugush and Alexander Veryovkin approach their work very differently. A vanishing point where parallel lines appear to converge in case of two-dimensional perspective projection doesn’t really exist, and yet we can see it. Working on the exhibition, we tried to define in what projection, in what reference frame two authors could meet. The resulting exposition is a talk converted into space. A look at yourself from the outside, dates, cryptographic descriptions, hills désirante, flirtatious outfit changing, suddenness of everyday events, awkwardness, sociability, blending of private and political – these are just some of the vanishing points in this dialogue being almost a year long.

Anastasia Kotyleva, project's curator

Photos: Irina Kolpachkova, Alexander Veryovkin

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