Laughter destroys fear | Interview with Victoria Lomasko (RU)
A year ago, artist Victoria Lomasko was part of the festival “Carousel – Contemporary Perspectives of Russian Art” at HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts as an Artist in Residence. In January 2020, hardly anyone suspected that the following year would be so eventful: the pandemic, the protests against the rigged presidential election in Belarus, the poison attack on Alexei Navalny, his recovery in Germany, and his immediate arrest upon his return to Russia. Johannes Kirsten, curator of Karussell, spoke with Victoria Lomasko, on the occasion of her drawn diary, which will be published regularly until the summer, about the past year. The conversation took place shortly after the trial of Navalny and the numerous protests following his arrest. The impressions of the state’s crackdown on mostly young protesters are still fresh.
Artist in Resident
Project name in HELLERAU: Act 1
This piece was originally conceived for a theater festival—I wanted to transform my small space into a stage where ruins would replace the curtains, and mysterious characters would periodically appear in the spaces where windows used to be.
Among the pre-fab apartment buildings—the setting for seminal recent videos by the Russian rapper Husky and art-punk group Shortparis—wild flowers grow, with androgynous images of Mayakovsky, Khlebnikov and Kharms instead of blossoms. Music, poetry—the new ‘20s.
Feminists enter public spaces with poetic slogans, and improvised dialogues typical of experimental theater commence in subway cars. Actionism, protest, gender.
Meanwhile hallucinogenic scenes from works by Viktor Pelevin are underway, with their showdowns between the accused, lawyers and prosecutors within, with their search for some fourth party that would stand above any situation. Literature, theater, mysticism.
The decrepit stage-sets built by the Russian authorities were evidently designed to turn into another “iron curtain,” but these ruins aren’t a match even for the Berlin Wall. Boring and demeaning are the attempts of Soviet-era characters to restore their Soviet stage-props in the 20s of the twenty-first century. It’s interesting to peer through the many tears and rents to see the new life dawning there.
What inspires you?
Mexican wall painters in the 20s, Russian poetry, video clips of Haski and Shortparis, artistic actions in public spaces, cheekiness.
Your first three thoughts about HELLERAU?
I like the fact that the HELLERAU ensemble is located at the edge of Dresden and that nothing distracts me from working on the Graphical Report. Every day I leave the guest house, cross the courtyard and enter the castle of art with the Yin and Yang signs on the facade. Just like in a dream.
I like the fact that the organizers in HELLERAU have an urge for strange, mysterious things, which cannot be clearly interpreted. The emphasis here is not on making only useful political statements, but on creating interesting works of art, and I fully support that.
I like the fact that I have seen performances at the Carousel Festival in HELLERAU that I would never have been able to attend in Russia. I feel that immersion in the art of theatre will have a significant impact on my new works.
How would you describe your way of working?
First, the general face is born. In this mural, the first structure I have oriented myself towards is ruins in which wild flowers and strange creatures grow. Then refinements appear: for example, a flower appears which carries modern poet-musicians instead of buds; a metro wagon appears which carries the starry sky instead of walls, and so on. The work on the sketches is the most strenuous and intensive and the drawing of the frescoes is rather relaxing, I rather exhaust myself physically. Listening to my favourite music, falling into a trance, painting on the walls and suddenly I am in a world that I have painted myself.