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Zhanna Kadyrova presents her works realized in occasion of
La Biennale di Venezia “May You Live In Interesting Times”


The 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia was an opportunity for Zhanna Kadyrova to exhibit two works, “Market” 2017 – 2019 and “Second Hand” 2014 – 2019, both of which were in progress for a number of years, taking on different forms and manifestations according to where and how they were exhibited. At the Biennale, Kadyrova considered the Venetian environment in her approach to producing these works. Working in a studio in the Arsenale, for “Second Hand” Kadyrova connected with the city through the materials she managed to procure, ceramic tiles from the Hotel all’Angelo in Venice. 


The relationship between architecture and mosaic has been a preoccupation of the artist throughout her career; the artist’s home country, Ukraine, has an extensive history of producing ceramic tiles. The artist started “Second Hand” shortly before Ukraine began its decommunization in April of 2015. For some iterations of this project before the 2019 Venice Biennale, Kadyrova used tiles from Soviet-era non-operational industrial buildings, adding another meaning to the title which not only refers to the sartorial form that Kadyrova manipulates these tiles into, but also the reused nature of the material, giving new structure, form and therefore meaning to them that are reminiscent of a prolific and effecting historic period. 



For the 2019 Venice Biennale, the ceramic and cement clothes and linens of "Second Hand" were partly hung outside the Central Pavilion, an idea that came to the artist, her team and the Galleria Continua team after noticing the habit adopted by many Venetians of hanging laundry out the window; this is an action that is mainly banned in the historic centres of many Italian cities yet in Venice it still prevails. 


For centuries, varnish on ceramic tiles was used in Orthodox churches as a medium for divine spaces and Christian saints. In the Venetian context, we could even dare to think about the Italo-Byzantine style of St Mark’s Basilica in the centre of the city and therefore associate the coloured varnish with exclusivity and riches. On the other hand, the cement is indicative of the introduction of the material in the late 1950s to Soviet nations where it was used to cover official buildings that housed the work of, amongst other professions, scientists and factory workers. The materials are representative of the contrast to be found between the fragility of the buildings they were once set upon and the durable nature of the tiles that suggest decadency and decoration; in this instance at the Hotel all’Angelo, a hotel which in the 70s and 80s was known to host many artists, some participating in the Venice Biennale. 


In occasion of the 58th Venice Biennale, Zhanna Kadyrova was included in the catalogue La Biennale di Venezia. 58ª Esposizione internazionale d'arte. May you live in interesting times edited by La Biennale di Venezia 2019. Other publications include; Zhanna Kadyrova 2013, with the support of Smirnov & Sorokin Foundation, published by Maier and Animalier 2019 published by Gli Ori. 



Lorenzo Fiaschi, co-founder of Galleria Continua, talks about working with Zhanna Kadyrova and her project at the 58th Venice Biennale. 



Second Hand

2014-2019

ceramic tiles, epoxy resin, metal, cement

Unique work

Excerpt from the catalogue:

"La Biennale di Venezia. 58ª Esposizione internazionale d'arte. May you live in interesting times"

edited by La Biennale di Venezia 2019

Text by Helen Luckett 


During Zhanna Kadyrova’s lifetime her country, Ukraine, has gained independence from the Soviet Union, experienced three waves of mass protests, two revolutions, a war in eastern Ukraine, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. In the wake of the 2004 – 2005 Orange Revolution, Kadyrova joined the R.E.P. (Revolutionary Experimental Space) collective, the country’s first openly political artists’ group, which went out onto the streets performing public actions. In 2014, following Ukraine’s Euromaidan Revolution and Russian military intervention in Crimea, she created the installation Untitled (2014), a map of Ukraine formed from the crumbling brick wall of a disused Soviet factory, blackened by fire on one side and papered over with an original Soviet-era wallpaper on the other. A detached piece representing Crimea lay abandoned on the floor. 


One of the most striking of Kadyrova’s art, which includes photography, video, sculpture, performance and installation, is her experimentation with forms, materials, and meaning. She often uses cheap tiling for mosaic, combined with heavyweight construction materials such as concrete and cement. For Market (2017 – 2019), a food stall equipped with everything a street trader needs, she makes sausages and salamis from concrete and natural stone and fashions fruit and vegetables – bananas, watermelons, pomegranates, aubergines – in chunky mosaic. In this meeting of Russian Constructivism and Pop art, the stall and its produce encourage public interaction during live performances. Usually set up at art fairs where the main objectives are buying and selling, and displayed here in the Arsenale, Market plays with the idea of art as commodity and breaks all the dealer’s rules by introducing a new economy: everything is sold by weight, at the rate of one gram per unit of local currency. 


Kadyrova was among the first Ukrainian artists to make site-specific work, both in the public realm where she creates permanent sculptures in consultation with local people, and in temporary installations which take their impetus from their surroundings. The version of Second Hand (2014 – ongoing) on view in the Central Pavilion repurposes ceramic tiles from buildings in Venice and neighbouring areas of Italy to construct items of clothing. Explaining that Second Hand is related to the architectural and social memory of a community, Kadyrova generally sources the tiles from old factories. Ukraine has a long history of ceramic tile production, and in previous iterations in her home country Kadyrova has used tiles from various defunct Soviet-era industrial buildings including a silk factory, a bus stating in the Chernobyl zone, and the Kyiv Motion Picture Printing Plant, memorializing these building in sculptures reminiscent of 1960s and 1970s-style Soviet fashion. Kadyrova started this long-term project shortly before Ukraine’s highly controversial decommunization laws were passed, as a result of which Communist symbols, mosaics and monuments have been abolished in an attempt to erase all trace of the country’s Soviet past. 

Market (ongoing project)

2017-2019

ceramic tiles, cement, mirror and natural stone

“Market” 2017 – 2019, an ongoing project, represents typical street markets with fruit and vegetables made from tiles and meat products made from natural stone and concrete. Some Italian products, like prosciutto, salami, mortadella were produced by the artist specifically for the Venice Biennale. The work had previously been shown as a site-specific installation with the artist herself acting as the market seller. The objects were sold by weight as 1 unit of local currency per 1 gram. Depending on the location of the action, the price and the range of products varied. The work is about value and how it applies to art, but also about the absurdity of pricing that becomes a global ideology.


Born in 1981 in Brovary, Ukraine Zhanna Kadyrova lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine. Her art includes photography, video, sculpture, performance and installation. Kadyrova works often in materials that critique Soviet aesthetic traditions by evoking the styles of Constructivism and Socialist Realism. Her use of these medium evokes its association with ideological art during the Soviet era, often depicting quantifiable everyday goods that apply a transactional capitalist purpose to the material. 

Over the past years she has held solo exhibitions in Galleria Continua, Havana and San Gimignano; Data Extraction, Galleria Continua San Gimignano 2013; Zhanna Kadyrova, Galleria Continua Les Moulins 2015; Mia casa, mia fortezza, Galleria Continua San Gimignano 2017; Permiso para el cóctel, Arte Continua Habana 2019; Resistance of matter, Galleria Continua Les Moulins 2019. Amongst her other solo shows, we mention; Villa Pacchiani, Santa Croce sull’Arno; Bureau for Cultural Translations, Leipzig and the Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria. She participated in collective exhibitions at: Garage, Moscow; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Centquatre, Paris; Ukrainian Pavilion, 55th and 56th Venice Biennale; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Polish Institute, Dusseldorf; Saatchi Gallery, London; Architekturzentrum, Vienna; Kunstraum Lakeside, Klagenfurt; Zimmerstraße, Berlin; Museum of Moscow, Moscow; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Izolyatsia, Platform for Cultural Initiatives and the Donetsk Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw among others. She won the Miami Beach Pulse Prize, PinchukArtCentre Prize in 2011 and, in 2013, the Kazimir Malevich Artist Award. In 2019 Kadyrova took part in the International Exhibition of the 58th Venice Biennale curated by Ralph Rugoff, as well as the Ljubljana Graphic Biennale, curated by Slavs and Tatars. Zhanna Kadyrova’s works are part of several public collections, such as State Tretyakov Gallery, Russia; Museum Voorlinden, The Netherlands; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Russia; Mystetski Arsenal, Ukraine; Museum of Modern Art of Warsaw, Poland; among others.

Invisible Forms

2015

security cameras, wooden beams, concrete

dimensions variable

Unique work

Invisible Forms

2013

videocamera, tripod, wooden beams, cement

variable dimensions

Unique work

 

installation view Ukrainian Pavilion, 55th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia 2013


“Invisible Forms” was presented at Galleria Continua / Les Moulins in 2012 and consisted of many concrete forms seemingly breaking out of the lens of a security camera, taking the shape of the path of the camera’s gaze. At the gallery’s Les Moulins location the sculptures invaded the former factories spaces, adding new angles and dimensions to them and influencing the viewer’s movement and interaction with their surroundings.


In 2015 the work was part of the 25-year celebration of Galleria Continua for the Follia Continua! – Les 25 ans de GALLERIA CONTINUA exhibition at the Le CENTQUATRE-PARIS. It was a celebratory exhibition of 25 years of the gallery and saw the works of the gallery’s artists displayed in the Le Centquatre-Paris, a place open to all citizens that has collaborated with Galleria Continua for some time. “Invisible Forms” is representative of a non-material and invisible phenomena – shades and rays of light produced by electric appliances and video cameras. The concrete forms literally announce their presence and occupy space, forcing the viewer to interact with the reality and the notion of it. In this exhibition, it was positioned externally strongly taking up the space of a courtyard and replicating the “gaze” of such security cameras. The exhibition integrated itself with themes that invited thought on important social and environmental arguments facing society. 

DATA EXTRACTION - KIEV

2011

asphalte, metal, epoxy resin

160 x 285 x 15 cm

63 x 112,2 x 5,9 inch

Unique work

"DATA EXTRACTION" is a multifaceted project, uniting several, at first glance, disparate artistic practices. On one level of interpretation it can be considered as a commentary on the transformations that Kyiv’s urban space underwent during preparations for the Euro 2012 football championship. The city was actively renovated and beautified in anticipation of foreign visitors (and a membership in the European Union that seemed still possible at this time). This process was accompanied by corruption issues of all levels of the city government . The renovation of the roads became one of the main objects of this process. In the months leading up to the tournament the reconstruction and replacement of the roads reached such proportions that the entire city was full of piles of discarded pieces of asphalt. In this left-over asphalt the artist saw a portrait of the city now passing into history. Following the artistic strategy of the readymade, Kadyrova decided to create a collection of Kyiv’s streets out of fragments of asphalt roads.