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Andrey Blokhin and Georgy Kuznetsov

March 3 - April 2, 2009

The works of Andrey Blokhin and Georgy Kuznetsov stand out at any group exhibition. Their clear articulation of ideas, colorful spectacle, and quality of design remind one of the young Jenny Holzer Ц and probably no one else.

Both members of the group are studying at the Krasnodar Academy of Art and Industry and have been working together Ц productively and often Ц since 2007.

Their first project at the M&J Guelman Gallery includes several installations, one of which, Air Head, was seen in Perm as part of the Russian Povera project. Inside blown up plastic heads, pieces of styrofoam flew about and cellophane brains writhed. In the new project, this installation is included into a larger selection of works that present the viewer with an exploration of the problem of recycling, of the replacement of the natural with the technogenetic, and of the circulation of the amorphous.

In what context can we read Blokhin and Kuznetsov's project, as well as the idea of recycling itself? First and foremost, in the context of pop culture. Plastic creatures whose silhouettes we see in the shapes of trash cans, creatures collected from all things dispersed, discarded, and rent Ц these creatures have come to us not from antiquity, but from contemporary mass media, in which archetypes are dressed in next season's fashions and seem to be cyberpunks, though here much depends on one's outlook. The modern embodiment of the immortal Phoenix Ц the Terminator, Superman Ц are stories of inversion of good and evil so characteristic of contemporary eschatology.

In traditional culture, the world was divided into overlords and slaves Ц animals and machines. The answer to the anthropological question dictated the relationships of rule and obedience, the structures of power. The anthropomorphic creature that was not man was called a monster and existed in confrontation with all things human. Monsters still continue to be the agents patrolling the border of the natural and machine realms, but the border itself has widened immeasurably and has changed our idea of the anthropological. Monsters have ceased to scare us, have joined our ranks, have, just like us, become creatures without historical memory whose identities arose out of recycled cultural waste. It is to this new order of things that the Recycle project testifies.

The "recycle" sign found on contemporary packaging informs us that civilization is now devoid of images of finality. Nothing that belongs to modernity is capable of finding its last, finalized form, of becoming dust and returning to the Earth. To put it differently, contemporary civilization is not substantive Ц just like, for example, evil. It is trash, rather than an image of an object, that is the very essence of modernity. Consumer civilization has no aim, and it programmatically expels from itself the last and only remaining object by taking it to the museum. In the absence of an aim and images of finality, this civilization has nothing else to do but turn into a technological dump. This is our true, authentic living environment.

The history of modernity finds its end in a trash can, and the trash can becomes its universal container. What has changed since Warhol's time capsules? Nothing except the fact that now, the trash heap is not only the end of history, but also its beginning, as the "recycle" sign informs us. The time of contemporary civilization has become cyclical; history is no longer differentiated from myth.

Alexander Evangeli
Translation: Ksenya Gurshtein

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