THE EXHIBITION "BIOGRAPHY: A MODEL KIT"
VIKTOR VOROBYOV
YELENA VOROBYOVA
WORK:
NECESSARY ADDITIONS. HOME ARCHIVE
Digital print, ink, acrylic and pencil on paper
2010 - 2019

In this work, the artists have used photographic materials from their family archive. Most of them are representative photographs often taken by studio photographers and intended to document the main stages of our lives: infancy, adolescence, the first day of school, graduation, marriage, childbirth, anniversaries, funerals etc. Characterized by a conventional format, vintage point and representation manner, such images belong to a certain representational framework, which, being imposed from the outside, eliminates infinitely diverse subjective perspectives. The classic of sociology Maurice Halbwachs referred to these conventional forms of documenting personal experience as the "frameworks of memory." The characteristic feature of these visual "frameworks" is that, without claiming artistic value, i.e. interpretative portrayal of the model, they have a pretense to objectivity. Moreover, not only they impose conventional iconography, i.e. what and how to document, but also what and how to remember. This is what Elena Vorobyova meant when writing that the materials used in the work were photographs intended for "Big Brother," the "state machine" that "photographed citizens with cameras" and used these "photographic images devoid of privacy" to create social ornaments.

With this metaphor, Vorobyova compares the artificial and abstract qualities of ornament with the functioning of the authoritarian state, which imposes standardized inviable forms of life from the top down. It is not a coincidence that the artists use ornament as the key element of their work. They carefully arrange photographs of the same type on a sheet of paper, paint them by hand, add some drawings extending beyond the photographs, etc. Originally an adorning notional medium, ornament is used for decorating spaces just for the reason that it doesn't require a frame, which in other cases serves as a clear delineation between the illusion of an artwork and reality. Vorobyovs' ornamental works, on the contrary, are framed, which means that they aim not so much to show the boundary between actual and artistic reality but to demonstrate how artistic means transform reality. Incorporated in an ornamental work, representative photographs are no longer perceived as objective evidence revealing themselves as a system of conventions.

We may note that the artists exhibit their framed ornamental collages intricately arranging them into linear rows, which tells us that the work "Necessary Additions" demonstrates not only the way art transforms reality, but also the way the artistic transformation of reality is represented. The conventions, huddled together one on anther — arranged facts of reality that in their turn are framed images incorporating other images, etc. — all this is the innermost essence of ornament. In his "Critique of Judgment" Kant noted that ornament liberates imagination, which as it freely flies expands further into the new layers of reality. While photographs on official documents, approved by authorities, claim to be identical with the person depicted on them, Vorobyovs in their home ornamental practices are free to manipulate themselves and their past. In this way they regain their own images and reclaim their biographies.
THE HUMAN CONDITION
artistic director of the project: Viktor Misiano
National Center for Contemporary Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center
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