SAVE UP LAUGHTER FOR WINTER...
This exhibition is about Yakutia, about the place on the earth, shown through each participant’s personal experience of the meanings of its territory.
The project includes artists’ stories about themselves, the people close to them, their native places, transmitted through the view of youth as a period of formation of a person as a personality, the author as an artist, through the study of motives for the artistic statement as a way of self-determination and inclusion itself in the meaningful landscape.
«Save up laughter for winter, Like an animal saves up fur and lard...» wrote the young poet, philosopher and French horn player Gabba (Gleb Gabayev) in the context of the study of artistic community, becomes a kind of geocultural metaphor, connected in one sense plane with the accumulation and synthesis of joy as a source of vitality, especially in the conditions of the North, and in another — with the concept of joy as the deep meaning and motive for creative expression. The accumulation of laughter, joy, spring rains, first love, short summer, all this is an act of appropriation in the existential modus of creativity as a true human goal.
The artistic environment of Yakutia today is a phenomenon that emerged at the junction of the experimental art of young artists of the late 1980s—1990s, authors who began their creative journey in the zero years at a time when Russian contemporary art institutions and festivals began to emerge actively, as well as representatives of the generation of artists of the last decade.
Three generations of the artistic community — three systems, not opposing each other. The boundaries of age are conditional, the boundaries of the methods of artistic articulation are distinguishable. Today, all three generations create meanings based on the emotional capital gathered in their youth, their trajectories intersect, they ignite each other, they resonate.
If we consider the exhibition as a research, as a cross-section of those processes that are relevant to the concept of contemporary Yakut art, each author and his methods of representation of reality, the definition of his identity through art, becomes a milestone, a historical period.
To describe the first generation of authors — participants of the exhibition, there is a very apt Yakut expression describing something resonant «salgyny hamnatan bardylar», which can be translated as «made the air vibrate». The air vibrations created at the end of the last century by artistic self-organizations became a kind of a «passionate jolt» in art.
«And now rejoice. Rejoice.»
The ironic, moreover hilarious Yakut modernity begins in the 1990s, when the Soviet period ends and the tension associated with the ideological and hidden colonial agenda of center-periphery relations is exposed. During this period, a discourse emerges that has shaped the unique personal experience of this generation, connected to the admiration of traditional culture and reflection on the current agenda, self-identification in the context of time, as well as sometimes playful self-exoticism.
Creative group Flogiston with its name, which gets exactly into the context of time and prophetically declares the importance that this association will have in the sense of an emotional resource for each group member in the future at all stages of creative development, became a launching pad for the generation that was and remains in the forefront of conceptual art in Yakutia. The informal projects of the groups Narrow View and AzArt, which include Natalia Nikolaeva, Olga Skorikova, Anna Petrova (Kareheit) today continue the practice outside the institutional collective artistic statement.
«... the processes emerging in the artistic environment, even one could say the dictates of the
time, considering the profound changes taking place in culture, in our lives require to pour
out in one form of expression or another. This occurs beyond the desire of the material
stimulus, but as a search for a new artistic language, the expression of some inner
need, the reflection of the experienced event. And this is characteristic of any artist, no matter
where he lives, also of the time in which he works» (Natalia Nikolaeva)
«...that there is a resonance from Phlogiston, we begin to reflect only now, their youth is as if still present for us in our youth...» (Sveta Romanova)
Authentic practice peculiar to the generation of those who caught the last years of the Soviet reality and grew up in the 1990’s. in the period of strengthening national cultural agenda, expressed in adulthood in the oscillation between the search for their belonging to the time, the search for themselves within the changing cultural landscape and research ethnographic interest in the ancestral memory, archaic layers of Yakut culture.
For such authors as Ustinya Prokopyeva, Nadezhda Komissarova, speaking here both individually and collectively, for the authors of the creative group Archetype, the period of the first decades of the new millennium became a time that formed their peculiar epistemological experience. If for some authors of this generation the traditional folk in art was initially an organic part of individuality, originating from family values, rural life, the other part through the artistic practices of interpretation of folk, came to the awareness of their ethnicity.
Yakutia Within for the third generation lies in a deep artistic exploration of internal processes, in a sincere interest in the human worldview. Rejecting the practice of representation and reproduction of familiar ethnic images and symbols, such authors as Juliana Semenova, Svetlana Romanova, Anna Innokentyeva (Coon), Alexander Innokentyev (Kuhunnu oyuur), Kunnei Egorova (Yen Sur) turn to a different optics, such as self-reflection and participatory artistic practices, ecological agenda.
The third generation is characterized by a completely different experience of identity formation in the global information space, the experience of living and learning abroad, and integration into the international artistic context.
«Maybe the difference between our third generation is that the concept of time is a little distorted with the advent and availability of information. That is, we have so much of the past on our own plane now, and this is kind of a privilege, because they have already paved the way for us and given us material for reflection, but at the same time it is difficult because we have to understand how to fit all this into our contemporaneity. Especially when there is so much that is global, and to separate ourselves and find authenticity in symbiosis with this globality. That is, to be guides and to look at cultural responses in other places, even where they may not be at all visible (as stereotypically recognizable). and I think this is partly why participatory practices have also sort of become relevant.» (Sveta Romanova)
The authors at the exhibition, in very private conversations about what we all were, are and will be, spoke without collusion about time as that absolute, which is for everyone a transcendent value and about the fourth generation — a completely new generation of Yakut art, which is not yet visible, but is felt as a premonition.
«Seasonalities are not just binary planes, but a kind of cyclical phenomena, and the processes of ’growing up’ are a constant period in which all people participate. There is no attachment here to canons of age, and the counting, given the cultural specifics, is in the format of seasonality. As counted, let’s say in ancient times maybe, I’ve lived there for some winters.» (Sveta Romanova)
In their controversial but highly poetic generational theory Strauss and Howe referred to the periods they identified as «seasons of history», comparing the Awakening period to summer and the Crisis to winter.
This metaphorical seasonality, as well as the natural change of winter and summer, important for Yakutia, also the change of generations, called in the theory Transformation, the moment when the new generation lives through its youth to enter the main role, became for the exhibition a meeting point of different artistic concepts. Youth and summer is a time to discover the artist and to accumulate joy for winter...
**Extracts from the text of Natalya Nikolaeva’s happening. From Here to Her exhibition (2005).