In the Russian Pavilion, Andrei Molodkin (b. 1966) is showing alongside 6 compatriots, Pavel Pepperstein, Alexey Kallima, Irina Korina, Gosha Ostretsov, Anatoly Shuravlev and Sergei Shekhovtsov. Entitled “The Victory over the Future”, a name borrowed from a futurist opera “Victory over the Sun” in 1913 which was an omen of impending catastrophes in the early 20th century. At the onset of the 21st century the world is once again in crisis, paralysed more by fear of the future than by economic recession.
Andrei Molodkin’s installation Red and Black (2009) is as political as usual. He presents a multi-media installation of two hollow glass sculptures, silhouettes, representing Nike of Samothrace, the symbol of victory. One sculpture is filled with pulsing black liquid – oil, the other with red – blood. Video cameras are directed at the sculptures. The projection on the screen combines the two images so that streams of black and red pulsate inside Nike of Samothrace, bringing her to life and symbolizing the ambivalence of any Victory.
“At the core of it is the body”, said Molodkin. “Today we trade blood for oil. We fight for it, we die for it. In millions of years, our dead bodies decomposed to become oil itself”.
Molodkin’s work seems a direct reference to Pop Art and Conceptualist icons by the likes of Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha and Joseph Kosuth. The artist reproduces widely ecognized symbols like the dollar or euro sign, the Apollo Belvedere or Nike of Samothrace, spelling out frequently used words from FUCK to DEMOCRACY in bent pipes on a wall or imposing sculptural letters that loom in mid-air. But Molodkin’s symbols differ from classic Conceptualism and Pop Art because this is no longer an empty abstraction.
“There is no concept so lofty and abstract that it can retain its meaning when we reveal the inner ‘content’, such as power, wealth, strength and pain, which are the only important factors in the modern world.”
Today we trade blood for oil. We fight for it, we die for it. In millions of years, our dead bodies decomposed to become oil itself…— Andrei Molodkin
What’s the difference between a world imagined by artist and a world imagined by politicians? “Artists make what’s negative positive and politician makes positive negative. My statue is hollow, like a film negative, but the projection makes it a firm image. The politicians bring destruction to the world in the name of development.”
Can a world created by artists habitable? “No!” Artists are not here to solve problems but shed lights on problems? Yet, even when the actual substance pulses through the veins of reality before our very eyes it remains intangible.
The sordid truth about our world built on money and death is yet to be fully understood. Revolution is not yet over; Victory still belongs to the future.
About the Artist:
Andrei Molodkin was born in 1966 in Boui, in the north of Russia. He now lives and works in Paris and New York. Former Russian soldier and conceptual artist, Molodkin critically addresses contemporary cultural and geopolitical issues through his work. Criticism of the symbolic order is the main theme of Molodkin’s work as he uses his art to rework popular ideas of culture.
He is a master draftsman and sculptor working with two untraditional and non-artistic materials; the ballpoint pen and crude oil. Some of his most recently solo shows include Liquid Modernity (2009) in Orel Art UK, London and Oil evolution (2009) in Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, New York; Liquid Black After Liquid Sky in Pack Gallery, Milan, Guts à la russe in Orel Art Gallery, Paris, Touchy art (Tachi’s art) in Nina Lumer Gallery, Milan, all in 2008, etc.