Author: Jenya Stashkov, artist and art critic
In October 2022, me and my family had to leave Russia. We did not have much time to pack our stuff. We did not take much, I had to leave a lot behind. At the very last moment, I put the baby tags my children were given in the maternity hospital after birth, in my pocket. That was a completely impulsive and symbolic gesture, which nevertheless was important for me. Emigration is a radical break in ties with everyday life, with the ground, and with the order of things, this is a point of no return. On the other hand, emigration is like growing up. An emigrant is infinitely moving away from his habitual state, from the past, from space, and from time. However, an emigrant is a human being, not devoid of memory, nostalgia, or attachments. These attachments, which may have material embodiment, represent an interesting and multifaceted spectrum of phenomena open to active involvement of artists and researchers, as well as research artists.
Vika Malysheva is a research artist, an archivist artist, an empathic artist, and a humanist artist. Her virtuoso artistic practice is a complex synthesis of methods, prerequisites, and motives. She is actively involved in a diverse range of art practices, from fixing modernity to constructing utopias. Her style can be characterized as minimalism, structuring, documentality, human stories, metanarrative, alternative realities, asceticism of expressive means, design, and clarity. As a research artist, on the first step Vika defines a problem, a topic, the key idea, and constructs a tag cloud for each of her projects. As an archivist artist, she determines the proper tools of reality documentation, the suitable methods of setting the scene for the information body of the future project, and how this archive will work separately from the project. As an empathic artist, she provides space for a number of disconnected people to express themselves, embodying and broadcasting their stories to other people. As a humanist artist, she constructs new reality, thus creating opportunities and precedents for social practices. Vika Malysheva is an excellent example of a conscious and professional artist who expands the boundaries of contemporary art.
“This is Mine”, the recent exhibition by Vika Malysheva, is of the greatest interest. The exhibition took place in March 2023 in Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and was curated by Katerina Gordienko. This exhibition is a complex and multi-stage study of both material and non-material attachments of the new generation of Russian emigrants. Vika’s deep and sincere interest is the complex world of human relations and its forever lost status quo. This constructs a broad semantic field in which human dreams, hopes, disappointments, losses, and tragedies get along and function. Although Vika takes on the roles of an infographic designer, a field researcher, and a collector of curiosities, she primarily remains a contemporary critical artist. She explores the mechanics of embodiment for various human ideas, trying to identify whether they are consciously or unconsciously false. She explores where the line between self-therapy and self-deception lies. The main question of “This is mine” exhibition is: what is human? Of course, the exhibition does not provide a direct answer. Spectators can only guess. There could be at least several possible approaches to this question. Is human transgressive? Is human an antihuman? Is human just a human? Is human elusive? “This is mine” is an organic statement, both polyphonic and monologue. The stories and things of other people are not dissolved in the artist’s statement of Vika Malysheva. This is a very important exhibition, which should be considered both as a vivid visual impression and as a documentary source as well as a form of public association with an unprotected group of people deprived of the ground under their feet.
I would warmly recommend that you familiarize yourself with Vika Malysheva’s artistic practice. Her artworks combined with complex philosophical and ethical approach will impress you.