Consciousness, a performance lecture by Marcus du Sautoy featuring music by James Holden and visuals by one of us at the Barbican.
A couple of weeks ago in London, a mathematician sold out The Barbican. And the hall wasn’t packed with sartorially disheveled mid-career scientists, it was filled by a mass of frankly quite stylish twenty and thirty somethings. To be fair, Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy was presenting his lecture-performance, Consciousness, with the support of electronic musician James Holden, founder of the highly danceable Border Community label. But clearly no one had turned up expecting a techno party. The enthusiasm for the event was another solid affirmation of the (relatively) recent and steadily increasing intertwining of art and science.
Added into the art and science mix were visuals by one of us. A film and VFX studio based in Soho, their recent projects include director Joe Wright’s 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina. Sometimes their images consisted of supporting documentary clips or were purely diagrammatic, but just as often they were more intuitive reflections on the content—quirky, almost Monty Python-esque video illustrations drawn from scientific archives. While not making a particularly strong statement in their own right, these more interpretive elements definitely heightened the humorous curiosity that characterized the night.
Daria Irincheeva, the former director of Family Business in Chelsea, on post-Soviet disillusionment and why New York isn’t the best place for experimentation.
Throughout 2012, Daria Irincheeva was the director of Family Business, Maurizio Cattelan and Massimiliano Gioni’s ephemeral storefront art space that was wedged into a crevice smack in the middle of Chelsea. She was 25 and had only recently moved from Russia, via France, to attend The School of Visual Arts. Having cut straight into the heart of the New York gallery scene at a pretty remarkable pace, she’s continued to engage with communities outside of the art world’s ostensible center.
Irincheeva’s current exhibition, Almost Aqua, recently opened at Wilson Project Space in Sassari, Italy. The act of moving—as reflected in this conscious step away from an art mecca to a relatively remote Italian island—is integral to her work. She takes reflections on her socioeconomically dysfunctional post-Soviet childhood as a point of departure. For Almost Aqua, she’s installed an arrangement of precarious, roughly constructed structures that mix a touch of good-natured bathos with a dose genuine poignancy, as a method of thinking through failure.
Wilson Project Space is small enough that the opening for Almost Aqua, like those of Family Business, happened mostly outside. The atmosphere on the street was similar, too, super relaxed and invigorated at once—with the nice addition of a hot, lingering Mediterranean sun. That evening, Daria and I sat down for a quick espresso around the corner from the gallery.
Kyra Kordoski In the press release, Almost Aqua is introduced as a project that evolved from re-thinking your life in post-Soviet Russia—essentially, your childhood. Could you talk a bit about that, and the impact of your early experiences on your work?
Daria Irincheeva I was born in ’87 in Leningrad, and at that time things were falling apart. My family was very damaged by the political situation and the country was a total mess. But as a child you don’t really understand political issues, you just take it as, “Okay, this is how things are.” I come from a regular family that didn’t enjoy any special privileges so I didn’t have the chance to travel before the age of 19, and it was only then that I realized that things were completely different elsewhere.
This bubble in which I was living was full of failures, disappointments, and disasters. They were the everyday—it was normal and nobody expected anything different. Moving to New York showed me very brightly the contrast between American mentality and Russian mentality. For Americans, failure is worse than death. America has a history as a very happy, dreamy country, always looking for the future, for victories. There’s no room for failure.
For me, failure—these topics of crash and collapse—are extremely beautiful concepts. It’s a source for creation, for getting experience, and for understanding and learning many things.
I take these childhood feelings and that kind of mentality as just a starting point, though. I don’t want to make projects just about failure. My work takes these broader feelings of every day life that people have, in America, Brazil, Russia, it doesn’t matter, and puts them in an aesthetic perspective.