BEYOND THE BLUE CELLAR
19.09.2023 —
20.10.2023
19.09.2023 —
20.10.2023

In the duo show ‘beyond the blue cellar’, Zukhra Salakhova and Olga Paramonova delve into the realm of working with profound emotional experiences. Thus, the point of assembly of the project becomes the collision of feelings of emptiness, confusion and the desire to hide, with forms of protection, camouflage and sacralization. Mental decay, trauma and a sense of emptiness are no longer mere facets of cultural discourse; rather, they serve as significant markers of our contemporary condition, wherein we are consistently confronted with a pervasive sense of impending catastrophe.. It is emptiness that turns out becomes the locus where their project takes root, and the artists explore avenues for transcending and domesticating it through the artistic technique of framing.  A recurring theme is the exploration of irrational practices and the quest for the mystical in an era characterized by acute societal issues, blurred gender and social boundaries, and a pronounced backlash. This is an era in which our actions are algorithmically scrutinized, and even the most trivial processes are subjected to the demands of efficiency. Can magic fulfill our yearning for something better, something stabilizing, within this stressful, alarmist context with a hyper-fixation on productivity?

The artistic approaches of these two creators converge in their shared intuitiveness.  In the new exhibition, Olga Paramonova’s visual language playfully reassembles emotional states. The artist’s personal narrative traces an episode of self-rejection, in where expressions of femininity felt foreign and bordering on the mystical. The impulse to conceal this experience is transmuted into an ironic approach to the project, one that questions the steadfastness of intentions.  Is it truly a need to hide, or is it a game of hide-and-seek? On the one hand, Olya instinctively constructs playful characters concealed within fabric draperies; on the other hand, she continues to explore her emotions through a picturesque, multifaceted image, whose contours are always blurred and highlighted. Its blurriness and detachment imparts the impression of the presence of something else, ghostly. The dissolution of boundaries in her works and in her own feelings leads Paramonova to change her optics and accept duality and contradictions.

Olya's dispersed figures intersect with the ornamental patterns of Zukhra Salakhova.Based on the Latin meaning of ornamentum - “equipment, armament” with something necessary, the artist formulates her method as an appeal to the camouflaging language of symbols. In the traditional arts and crafts medium of embroidery, she manipulates local symbols and subjects in the space of personal narratives and intuitive images. The project ‘beyond the blue cellar’ reveals Zukhra’s profound sensitivity  to the nature of the signified and the signifying. This sensitivity is manifested in her approach to creating works as protective shells that both frame and camouflage the emptiness and emotional states that inhabit Paramonova's ethereal characters.

The result of a collaboration between two rather different artists is a unique installation, distinct from their solo practices. Together they build a deconstructed magical castle shrouded in a portal-like veil. The castle-portal acquires agency, akin to a magic mirror, projecting surreal imagery that traverses the exhibition space and spills onto the isolated towers of the castle, reminiscent of mystical vessels. Notably, the nature of the magical castle possesses an element of trickster-like whimsy.. It is identified with vibrating matter from the visual series, imposing ideas of escape, concealment, as if inviting us to hide, even from anxiety. The sky-hued branches of the castle ascending offer one escape route, while there is a suggestion of another — a mimicry of descending into the basement. Yet, the castle contains nothing; it frames emptiness. Similar to John Cage's reimagining of silence, Paramonova and Salakhova demonstrate that emptiness can also become an art object, affirming its presence and legitimizing it within the realm of art, thus taming emptiness.

 

text by Marija Orlova