Night Before the Attack
| || | Alexander Brodsky 27.09 Ц 25.10.2009
| || In the framework of the Parallel programme |
of the 3rd Moscow Biennale
M&J Guelman Gallery
WINZAVOD Center for Contemporary Art
The militaristic title of Alexander Brodsky's new project is no accident. An artist and architect, Brodsky assimilates possibly the most challenging space of the WINZAVOD exhibition complex Ц Building 6. Work with the Gothic hall and the contrastingly low compartments requires valour and fighting spirit. The history of the WINZAVOD as a cultural institution began here in 2005, with the exhibition I Believe! Since then, few curators or artists have dared to accept the challenge of this place.
Brodsky first became acquainted with the space of Building 6 during work on the general concept of the interior and architecture of WINZAVOD. Since then, he has dreamt of creating an installation fitting these halls. The Night before the Attack is specially designed to play up the most essential features of the space Ц the poor or, rather, problematic lighting; the enormous dimensions; the dampness.
Building 6 is plunged into pitch darkness. The only sources of light are the shining objects placed inside a number of structures. Bound with polyethylene, these constructions recall hotbeds Ц a traditional feature of Russian dachas and vegetable allotments. The title of the installation, however, is intended to redirect the flow of visual associations in another direction. What we see is a military camp Ц a cluster of artefacts evoking a vague disquiet.
The Night before the Attack is the largest work in Brodsky's creative biography. The genre is known as a "total installation" Ц a line extending back to the Conceptualists in Russian art (Komar and Melamid, Irina Nakhova, Ilya Kabakov). For them, this was a step beyond the bounds of the picture and object, towards the construction of an entire artistic environment. For Brodsky, however, such a type of installation is a logical offshoot of the architectural-design way of thinking typical of his profession.
Alexander Brodsky's installation dates back to an anonymous object specially created by the artist for one of the Art Myth Fairs, which were held up until the mid-1990s. In each new project, as one might expect of a professional architect, Brodsky reinterprets assimilated forms and discoveries. Every time, he sends a familiar motif in a whole new direction, drawing the viewer back to his key themes Ц the unsteady balance between comfort and entropy and the shaky borderline between the building as an idea and the building as a physical body. In Brodsky's interior works, a communal apartment becomes a club (Apshu), while a tiny plywood house created from elements stylised as construction waste becomes a pavilion (Pavilion for Vodka Ceremonies).
Uncertainty is a very important motif for Brodsky. His objects normally have no definite literary basis and The Night before the Attack is no exception. The desire to work with form and texture excludes the need for a given scenario; what is commonly described as a "living environment" is enough.
The materials selected by Brodsky for his artistic objects are usually related to the lifestyle of the "common man" and his simple joys. The used teabags, drawings made by fingers on glass and the references to dolls' houses and souvenirs Ц familiar to viewers from Brodsky's last exhibition Windows and Factories Ц are supplemented in this new project by polyethylene "hotbeds" from vegetable patches.