whitehot | May 2010: Noah Becker In Discussion With Asya Reznikov
Asya Reznikov is a 36 year old female artist from Lenningrad, USSR. Her current exhibition at Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York is on until May 29th 2010. Reznikov's practice uses mixed media, video and photography as a way of expressing ideas about displacement, memory and the sublime. Her work will be appearing in the exhibition "Click: Young Photographers" also at Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York opening June 3rd, 2010.
Noah Becker: When you work with your personal history and use items that are from the home is it about a sense of displacement and tragedy?
Asya Reznikov: My work is certainly about displacement but I don't see it as being about tragedy. Perhaps the viewer might see tragedy because of their personal experience with displacement but for me displacement is more about nostalgia, memory and possibility. By "possibility" I mean all the possible permutations that "could have been or could be" if one had not been displaced or had been displaced elsewhere. I'm very interested in the "space" of the traveler or foreigner that exists after departure and before arrival -- it's were everyone shares one "culture"-- that of the immigrant or traveler -- all equally "foreigner". I'm also interested in elements of culture and tradition that a person retains after immigrating or adapting to a new home. In the "Relocating Home" series of photographs, I depict three cities where I have lived: New York, Berlin and St. Petersburg. For each city, I built and photographed a model of a home or landmark from another city where I lived. For example, in the "Relocating Home, Berlin" photographs I built my NYC apartment building out of Berlin postcards. I photographed the model in various places in Berlin -- holding out the model so it appears to fit into its surroundings, while originating from an entirely different location. Simply put, in this work, I am thinking about how even though one adapts to a new location, one still retains much of one's origin and as one travels or moves this identitly or origin changes but is still there. I think about how artchitecture reflects a culture. So in this work I use architecture as a means to explore culture and relocation. Rather then a person moving, they are architectural structures trying to fit into new environments -- clad in the postcards of the adopted home but structurally maintaining their old identity.
BECKER: What aspect of these items are you trying to have the viewer engage with, or is it more of a non-narrative approach to conceptual work?
BECKER: In Jacob's Ladder there is a series of monitors stacked. How do you engage with the sculptural aspect of a piece like this? In terms of what's happening on the monitors there is quite a bit going on. What is the concept behind your use of multiple screens and screens built into objects?
REZNIKOV: In Jacobs Ladder there are seven monitors, each of which has looped video of escalators depicted. The bottom TVs show the bottom sections of escalators, the middle TVs are middle sections and the top TVs are of the top parts of escalators. The videos themselves are a compilation of escalator footage from all over the world that I collected over a period of several years. I see the work as a sculpture referencing both a ladder and a tower. It is also ironic. The title "Jacob's Ladder" is a biblical story in which Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching the heavens. In my work, I have a finite ladder that not only does not go to heaven, but being that the footage is of escalators, it implicitly cycles back to the beginning. I see the work as humorous in this way. I find it fascinating that people of all cultures are obsessed building the tallest structure -- the highest tower. Thus reflecting their culture's strength and power. I have been fascinated with towers for this reason have used them in other works. In this case the tower's subject (the escalator) brings you back down to the ground. I don't see the work as a critique of culture but rather an observation of international symbols and themes. I this piece I use multiple monitors as building blocks for the sections of the tower/ escalator. In another work, "Circadian Rhythm", I use two screens because they are like two mirrors, mirroring one another. However, in one screen I pack items into a suitcase while simultaneously I unpack those very items from the identical suitcase in the other screen. The screens are separate objects and are wirelessly synchronized. In "Garden of Earthly Delights" I use three screens. This triptych takes its name from Hieronymus Bosch's painting of the same title. In the right screen, endless escalators from around the word carry people up. In the left screen escalators carry people down and in the center panel four layers of people's feet, interspersed with pigeon's feet walk back and forth in endless motion.
Asya Reznikov, from the Relocating Home series. photo: Michael Anderson
Asya Reznikov, installation view, photo: Michael Anderson
Asya Reznikov, photo: Michael Anderson
BECKER: What are your plans for the near future in terms of the development of your practice?
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief