M HKA, Antwerp, 2019

2017, Winzavod contemporary art center, Moscow

2014, Central exhibition hall Manezh, Moscow

2013, Triumph gallery, Moscow

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Getting there together | Добираясь вместе

 

Getting There Together is the title of an exhibition and a formula for the collective work of two talented graduates of the Rodchenko School, Dimitri Venkov and Antonina Baever. This formula envisages joint movement through space to a common goal and draws into a tight knot the meanings of video works and their medium. Space in Dimitri and Antonina’s works is cleansed of any social noise telling us of its premeditated nature, and it is structured by a peculiar action behind which, clearly or invisibly, stands the will of the artist. The strangeness signifies that the action belongs to another social order. The action is drawn out of the situation itself and a certain excess of communication develops in which the subject and its Other meet one another. The event of the meeting can be preceded by an expectation (as is the case, for example, in the work Apparition) that is built into the situation itself and serves to bring down the expected narrative implications and to lay bare the cogs and wheels of the narrative mechanism. The function of the Other can be performed by an animal, by an institutional authority, a community, myth or memory. The situation of border communications in which the subject and its Other produce a social space unfolds in the video installations as scraped samples, tests and research into modernity.

In the exhibition, the works create a common field of visual and semantic conflicts and consonances. The intersecting two-channel video installations – Getting There Together by Antonina Baever and Apparition by Dimitri Venkov – form a stunning space bounded by four screens and filled with a voice, expectation and emptiness. In this complex psycho-aesthetic mix of the title work, care and pragmatism, endless sincerity and manipulation, responsibility and play are all blended. Getting There Together is moved by the energy of Antonina‘s ecstatic exhortations addressed either to an animal or to the imagined Other, or to the observers from Apparition. The meditative and tense expectation of the observers looking out to the horizon unites the screens on the walls in a common field of attention and spatial intrigue. Apparition, essentially evading unambiguous interpretation, reminds us that the expected event always takes place without being understood or identified.

In the works of Dimitri Venkov, we can see an attention to the systems of knowledge and language confirming the epistemological spaces of modernity. He analyzes the situations in which the work of social conventions and receptive clichés becomes possible. They are situations of invented practices through which his characters are socialized – scientists, spies, the adepts of a cargo-cult. We are presented with a documentation of a slightly offset reality. The document retains the trust of the viewer with the aid of genre and situational templates in order to then destroy them in the most striking manner. Dimitri Venkov shows the spectacular catastrophe of discursive models as a direct continuation of their effectiveness – they continue to work in the constructed reality and legitimize its absurdity. His films indicate the boundaries of theoretical schemes, testing their firmness.

Antonina Baever studies the role of art in the structure of modern society in the hermetic metaphors of a miracle (The Artist Daniil Turns Red into Blue), esoteric games (I Often Think of the Pioneers of Video-art), and works that imply payment (Studio) and care (Getting There Together). The spectrum of circumstances into which Antonina places her characters is fairly broad and includes, in particular, situations of authoritarianism and subordination that are constructed in order to be resolved in the ironic ambivalence of an artistic gesture.

Antonina Baever and Dimitri Venkov work in different ways with collective and personal memory, with social conventions and the foundations of a contemporary worldview. It is in a meaningful interaction of the video installations and in the dialogue between the works that unfolds Getting There Together.

 

Alexander Evangely