Vadim Fishkin
(Slovenia / Russia)
Miss Christmas, 2012
Bucket, projection. Variable dimensions, ed. 3/3 + AP
Courtesy of the artist and Galerija Gregor Podnar

Am I a Star? 2004
Certificate A4, wallpaper b/w print, dimensions variable.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerija Gregor Podnar
The title of this work is based on a linguistic ambiguity. It can be understood and translated as 'Miss Christmas' and as 'to miss Christmas', or as 'go without it'. The depictive nature of the work is counterintuitive as well: we see an actual immovable tin can, casting a dynamic palm-shaped shadow upon a wall. The intersections between the title of the work and the visual content is conflictional and counterintuitive. If a traditional symbol of Christmas is a Christmas tree, it can be assumed that the palm motif in Fishkin's work refers instead to the second possible meaning – to the lost Christmas. However, Christmas is a time of miracles, and therefore the Christmas tree on this day appears to be an exotic palm. And indeed they also celebrate Christmas in tropical regions. Due to the lack of the conventional tree, a palm can be assigned to fulfill its function. In this situation, illusion earns the status of reality, and therefore the ephemeral shadow in Fishkin's work is considered to be more real than a tangible can.

It is remarkable, however, that the artist does not give us an answer to how our interpretations and associations should be guided. For him, the ambiguity is important in order to simultaneously involve all imaginable interpretations and to reveal an inherent reality to the sustainable abundance of possible meanings and their over- laps. The real and delusive, natural and civilizational, physical and intangible appear to be interconnected as a condition for interdependent existence.

On December 12, 2004, Vadim Fishkin named a previously unknown star and registered it at the National Star Association in the USA. From now on, it passes by the name of M.I.STAR, which is an abbreviation of 'Am I a Star?' As the artist points out, 'to give something a name is a symbolic gesture, but at the moment of naming it becomes real'. It is significant that the name given to a star is also a statement, attributing the name 'star' to a star, is what in linguistics and logic is called a tautology. At the same time this name is repeated in the title of the artist's work, but only with a question mark. It is as if a star asks a question: to which extent its given name can be understood as its essence? In logic however, according to Wittgenshtein's definition, a tautology, which doubles the evidence – for example a star is a star – always means a true expression. From this perspective a star is really like that and it has no reason to question the appropriateness of its own name. But it can also be considered differently.

The paradox of tautology – the statement that a star is a star based on the fact that it is a star – is a logical fallacy. After all, it rep- resents the statement that proves the trueness of a thesis, using the very thesis as an argument. That is why a question mark in the title seems to be justified. Something else matters here: the bottom line of tautology is that it attracts our attention to language itself. It determines the act of nomination, revealing its conventionality in relation to reality, and its validity in relation to itself. Each of these consequences of tautology encourages us to think about what the reality appears to be beyond our conception of it. It is clear that in a world free from distinctions imposed on it by human language and its denomination, facts and phenomena are in a natural affinity.
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