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olga balashova's interview

Mediateoretik Olga Balashov entered into a poetic polemic with Anton Korablev, editor-in-chief of chewbakka (digital magazine about postmodern philosophy, art and orthodoxy), and she told him what she thinks about art trends, Roland Barthe\\'s "the author\\'s death", educational initiatives, digital art, and so on. Olya with admirable perseverance and love advocate for the young generation of Ukrainian artists, for her honor and praise.

- What are the trends, moods, impressive visual solutions you see today in contemporary art?


Lately, I am increasingly convinced that the impressive visual solutions, especially keeping within the concept of the trend doesn’t really goes with what we mean by art today. Meaning in the contemporary art is not only prevails over form, sometimes even dictates it, sometimes completely overwhelms, and sometimes levels its value. The form also split off a design that is genetically still associated with art, but represents quite another phenomenon with a different set of problems.

Although, the formation of a trend in art is possible, but that is what describes the commercial part of the artistic process, and main discoveries are happening in his nonprofit part of. If we talk about that side of things, now the trend is all new - new technologies, new materials, new ideas, new life of old things, etc. But if you try to bring some way of a generalization that concerns the main line of development of the artistic process then most likely it will be connected not with the image and even not with the way of imaging, but with  the strategies that use contemporary artists to create their works.  In the foreground are communication skills. Role and importance of the viewer are increasing. The artist is not just ‘dub’ ready-made formula, putting it in a proper form, but trying to create some space and the specific conditions under which the viewer can fill this space with his own content. That’s why art of today has more to do with a kind of process than with the material tangible world, which is expressed in objects and subjects. 

And yet here I just thought that perhaps total installation may be the trend in this sense.

- This Barthe\\'s ‘death of the author’ expressed: no matter what the artist wanted to say it is important, how the viewer interpreted it.

I think, nevertheless, that this is here not about Bart ‘the author\\'s death’, but rather about its consequences, if I could say this way. At the end of his essay Bart suggests that we have to pay for the birth of the reader with the author\\'s death. But we shouldn’t forget that from the moment he wrote it, it took more than 40 years, during which time the "reader" wasn’t just born, but also managed to grow so much that he is already capable of an equal dialogue with the author. The notorious ‘What artist wanted to tell’ is still as important as the interpretation of the viewer. Because  the essence of any communication, including art, is in understanding or at least in the quest for understanding. The situation is that none of the participants in communication cannot ‘pull’ sense, because thing that they are looking for is between them, is born of their interactions. That’s why it is so important for modern artist to be clear and articulate, and for the viewer a precondition is aspiration for understanding.

- I agree, if you mean western ‘audience’.  In Ukraine the situation is such that the viewer only becomes to realize himself as a spectator. Enough to remember year 1997, when Bill Viola or Janis Kunellis with its installation of church bells visited Kiev: then Ukraine was not ready for such projects, because there was no audience. These facts were left beyond the public attention, acceptthe curators or critics, whom no need to inform.  It took 14 years, I\\'d even say 14 years of passive-active promotion of contemporary art and what do we have? Every second will say that Hirst is ‘the most expensive painter in the world’, but it\\'s worth in eyes of the average man, that was brought up with consumer magazines reviews. I believe that our audience is need to be bought up to reach a certain level and as you say it ‘could conduct a dialogue on equal terms’ and it is very difficult and lengthy work.

Absolutely. It is necessary to educate and work here a lot. But let not agree with you about 14 years of propaganda. I think, to clear our ‘Augean stables’, we have begun only two- three years ago, when there appeared a number of interesting educational initiatives, such as ‘Cultural Project’. It is possible to educate the viewer not only with the help of throwing him into a visual maelstrom of modern art, but with talking to him and offering an adequate, systematic information about what is happening and why it is so.

- With the development of new digital media, is option with automatically appearance of art-objects possible?

Honestly, I don’t really understand what you mean. If you are on the process of production, of course it is possible! The machine has been working for a long time. But solution of old problems by new methods is not more interesting than solution of new problems by old methods. The essence of digital art is not in object production, but in the interaction with the virtual environment.

- By the way, do you greet art institutions initiatives of, which are sometimes allowed to see not only the final product, but the process of technology of creation of installations, exhibitions, etc.?

It all depends on how and for what purpose it is done. I welcome any transparency in the art, demonstration and the inclusion of viewer in the preparatory stages one of its possible forms. If today\\'s art takes on procedural as one of its basic characteristics, so the process of creating this art is interesting and important gesture. Also do not forget that we live in a world where if the information is not received in real time, it is considered as outdated. Art takes it into account.

- Don’t you think that the younger generation of artists in spite of the marginality of the art context, deadly serious, secondary and pathos?

Secondary, rather yes, but not all. But it\\'s not a very big problem. The question of unoriginality in the modern practice of art is not worth so badly. Remember like Jarmusch: no matter from where you take - the main is directions. Needless pathos? Sometimes. But the seriousness, I think it\\'s a good thing. Real art is always serious.

Just once in the history was such situation when the seriousness became unbearable and even impossible, it was the postwar period, when the old world crumbled to pieces, and none of the previous major senses could no longer claim to its infallible status. And the only way not to go crazy was to doubt and speak ironically of everything what artists did with great enthusiasm. But it was only an episode in history a necessary and the only way to survive in those conditions. And if seriousness is returning to the art, it is a sign of recovery, I think, it is a sign that humanity coped with some complexes and is ready to go next.

- Based on the experience of SOSki and RAP, is it possible to argue that today art is a product of creative groups, but no units?

You mean the Ukrainian art or world practice?

- I mean the Ukrainian art.

In any case, it\\'s not a very fair conclusion. Rather, it is just a temporary need for self-survival. For example, participants of RAP and SOSki now much more interesting work independently. Art, at least post renaissance (from the 15th century), when the artist asserts his right to speak about the art in his own name, bringing to it a special meaning, it\\'s still practice very individualistic and I see no reason why it could become a collective one.

- Artist was allowed to say ‘in his own name’ by modern era, which nowadays has exhausted its agenda. We live in the 21 century and dance on the bones of the Enlightenment, but the tooling concept is the same: we use such outdated definitions, as ‘individual’, ‘talent’, ‘genius’. With regard to the Ukrainian artists we have nothing like this. Quite often there is social pathos and imitation pseudo intellectualism. Perhaps we do not have a pragmatic view of culture? Uncut and politically correct diplomacy.

Before the modern era has witnessed the full emancipation of art, this way was very long (several centuries), this why I told post renaissance. In our time, art and truth has little common with modernity, which still belongs entirely to the space of classical culture, which likes terms you have mentioned. Today we are in a space that really has very little common with traditional culture, but continues to use its terms, however, it puts them in several different content.

But when you say ‘individual’, ‘talent’, ‘genius’ and then use them ‘for Ukrainian artists’ I have a short circuit. Because it is okay with the ‘talent’ and with the ‘genius’, then you can argue, but when you say that the term ‘individual’ doesn’t go with the ‘Ukrainian artists’, this is at least strange. Moreover, I do not quite understand about what artists you are talking about, because making them the same  would be unprofessional and stupid. But the fact that we really do not have enough pragmatic critical view of what is going in our culture, I completely agree with you.

- I will confess, I’m surprised that you\\'re so good to the Ukrainian artists, arguing that there are a lot of ‘individual’ among them.

Let\\'s specify terms (three years in post graduate course of philosophy make their effect). We\\'re not talking about individuality, we were talking about  individual, and they are very different things. But even so, I still think that among our artists there are not many individuals, but enough not only individuals, but also very interesting people with their life position.

- When I say ‘individual’, I mean the classic definition of the subject (something endowed with mind and will). We either have with mind, but without  will, or vice versa. Many contemporary artists are dreaming about being between Roytbrud and Chichkan, cling to something fashionable and profitable. I am deeply convinced that individuality as a derivative of the individual is not an extravagant clouthes or mild shocking for the sake of attention, which is a consequence of poor childhood. If you, as a subject, whose mission is to create new meanings and artistic innovation, are busy with imitation, what art can you create?

The situation that you describe really exist, that is very tragic, but there is nothing you can do, because the craze around contemporary art draws on its territory a variety of characters, including those who profanes its very essence. The most unfortunate thing is that for these artists (bad one) there is a demand, and as long as it exists, they will be happy to do what they are doing. And yet, I won’t be tired of repeating that in our art environment there are enough interesting artists that can respond adequately to the challenges of our time, without bothering patriarchs of the artistic process. And you know, imitation isn’t a mortal sin, especially considering the state of our art education. At some point, imitation, if it is deliberate, could be learning for young artist. It is important not to stay in this phase for a long time.

- If we talk about the state of the art market, do you think that demand feet the offer? Is Ukrainian art-environment ready to satisfy the potential buyers demand?

I believe that the demand is more than fits the content, however, this conclusion does not indicate for any benefit of the environment  or collectors. So far, the taste of our buyers isn’t very exacting, so that they would be satisfy with any environment. Collecting art has now become very fashionable, but hardly anyone comes to this issue sensibly and professionally, and in contemporary art without the training it is very difficult to separate bad from good. And, unfortunately, the fact that this market is an art one, does not affect the situation at all: there is a demand and there is offer.

about the interlocutor: Olga Balashov, art critic, curator, mediateoretik, lecturer of the National Academy of Art and Architecture. Author of articles about contemporary art, lecture course ‘Contemporary Art in the questions and answers’, co-author of a course of lectures "Media practice and media theory.

 

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