THE EXHIBITION "BIOGRAPHY: A MODEL KIT"
ZHANNA GLADKO
WORK:
THE MOON SHINES LIKE BRASS...
(as part of the Inciting Force project)
Installation, mixed media
2011 - 2019

Zhanna Gladko, a young Belarusian artist, presents some new pieces from the Inciting Force series that focuses on the artist's relationship with her father. Gladko has been working on this project since she became actively involved in artistic practice. The exhibitions of the project, which include readymades and documents, gradually expand with each next show incorporating new elements and narratives — the work develops merging Gladko's artistic career and family life into a system of successive repercussions and reflections.

As since the second half of the 20th century psychoanalysis has been widely acknowledged, artistic autobiographies, told through traumatic relationships with a parent, have become a comparatively popular tool among artists. What distinguishes Gladko's work is that she puts emphasis on ambivalence, which is not usual for hermetic biographical narratives, nor is it characteristic of projects representing a "dialogue" with one of the parents. Using seemingly random documentary and fabricated images, objects and sounds, the artist creates a complex emotionally intense dramaturgy in which the relationship between the father and his daughter can be interpreted from radically different perspectives: as a traumatic experience of oppression and psychological violence or as emancipating practices and the cultivation of willpower. The both characters of the narrative act as proactive subjects denying the conventional roles of the oppressor and the oppressed.

The project is an attempt at self-identification through a dialogue with the Other, which is inseparable from the protagonists' perception of themselves and their stories. The pain and emotional strain of this process can be seen in every element of the story: the father wrecks the piano that the artist played as a child; the artist, in her turn, destroys the bandoleer that she made together with her father when he taught her how to shoot; as her father speaks with a tone of superiority, the verbs he pronounces are drowning out the music performed by the artist. At the same time, the protagonists are inextricably connected. Since the artist's father always wanted to have a son, in her childhood Gladko's parents were trying to dress her like a boy and engaged her in some boyish activities; when she grew up, she herself began to experiment with gender stereotypes (for example, building muscle for six months) and disguise as a way to appropriate power and authority — she would dress herself up as her father or as Alain Delon, whom the artist associates with her father. Along with various meditations on her personal experience as part of her family story, the artist also considers it from social and political perspectives, demonstrating the possibility of interpreting an individual life story in a broader context.

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
Made on
Tilda