Part of the Moment

19.12.2013 – 12.01.2014, Triumph Gallery

An intelligible visuality and exceptional expressiveness are the key merits of the works of the Krasnodar artists Andrey Blokhin and Georgy Kuznetsov. These young men (they are both under 30), don’t chase after cunning, intellectual concepts wrapped up in a plethora of wordy explanations and annotations. They storm museums, biennials and galleries with the aid of unique technology and a striking expressiveness. Rubber, plastic, netting and the other industrial materials that now flood our planet, with the aid of cunning devices and mechanisms, are turned into kinetic or monumental objects that are appreciated by spectators and gallerists alike. The above, however, does not mean that their works have none of the cultural subtext that is so needed in modern art. Instead of basing their works on the philosophical texts of Guy Debord or the currently in-fashion Giorgio Agamben, they base them on the eternal themes of the history of art, employing a multiplicity of images of new heroes – a rubbish skip in place of a sarcophagus, a business meeting in place of the “The Last Supper”, the symbols of social networks in place of the cuneiform of Sumerian writing. In addition, it is this “cultural” bantering that best reflects modern cultural tendencies.
Pop art raised the images of mass culture to the ranks of high art, albeit at times with a critical subtext. In conflict with antiglobalism, it presented Ronald McDonald and Mickey Mouse as the spawn of the devil. And now, welcome to the 21st century, where the robot Bender (a character from the cartoon series “Futurama”), Bart Simpson (from “The Simpsons”) and Kenny (“Southpark”) are almost canonized as saints. The psychedelic and satirical world of American cartoons is a completed reality. Russia’s 2×2 cartoon channel is a history textbook. Kidults are a new and very widespread type of modern man.
Having keenly sensed these tendencies, the Krasnodar art group Recycle has created a project where Bender adorns catacombs; Gothic stained-glass windows are populated by characters from Southpark; Homer Simpson’s hand, gripping a donut, is placed on a pedestal. This animated obscurantism in it entirety is pop art taken to an absurdist extreme to strengthen its impact as a spectacle, and it is placed against a background of green and orange walls of a stomach-turning hue. It is not, however, the striking wrapping that the artists give preeminence, it is an attempt to capture unrestrained reality.
The project’s title, “Part of the Moment”, informs us of this. The presumptuous, clearly articulated desire of the artists to engage with contemporary history is in fact a quotation from the utterances of the robot Bender “I want to be a part of the moment”, as well as a reference to Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame. It transpires that for Bender’s time machine, for the artist of the past, Warhol, and for our contemporaries, Recycle, there is no history, there is only “the moment.” The sensory grasping of an object (in our case, art) is only possible in the here and now, and that’s of principle importance. It is for this reason that the postmodernist blurring of borders and demonstrative merging of “high” and “low” is developed by the artists to such an extent that it stops being funny, and becomes “acceptable.”
In the insane world of this Recycle project, spectators no longer experience any discomfort; instead they feel as if they’re in a zoo where, behind the bars of the cage, instead of monkeys, there is a mirror, providing a timely model and natural habitat for a person of the new millennium. Anyone who doesn’t think that this is the case can, to paraphrase Bender the robot, “can kiss my metal ass.”