What is an empty place? These words, it seems, don’t mean anything good. Psychoanalysis explains an empty place as the source of fear; the fear of castration for men and of infertility for women. Freud, taking after Nietzsche, defines a female nature as an empty one par excellence, in the case in question it is similar to a popular swearword ‘prorvi’ and the professional language of dog owners; a bitch without cubs when it’s a fixed time to have them is called ‘pustovka’ (from the word pustota – emptiness). The question is how to change this fixed time, transform it and fill an empty place with the creative power.
Maria Dmitrieva, creating an installation in Anna Nova gallery that looks like a journey in the world of dreams, is looking for the answer inside herself and all around. The story starts from the three vertically hung clean white beds, whose occupants, having had their restless dreams, now exist in some other place. The artist allows us to feel what were there inside their dreams by ‘filming’ her own ones; the labyrinth of frozen birth trunks, snow and a meandering path are a deposit of the metaphysical light, coming from nowhere. The images from the dream are like the answers to vital questions; they are full of suggestions, but as dark as a soothsaying. Maria Dmitrieva continues the journey-inside-herself in the hall where, like in a yard, bed sheets are hung, covered with the hand-written texts. The sheets are lumpy and look as if frozen; the texts on them are autobiographical, but remind the surrealistic otherworldly encryption, similar to that Orpheus received from the autoradio waves in Jean Cocteau’s film.
Half a century ago Robert Rauschenberg exhibited his bed- assemblage, hung vertically as a picture, covered in red paint. According to the eyewitnesses it was a scene of crime; Andrzej Wajda sent his character Machik to die in the waste land where linen is hung all round. It’s the newest version of the Minoan labyrinth in the time of modernism second wave. It was replaced by the health resort holidays of golden modernism, when the story was thought to be nearly over and there would be neither events nor heroes and that the reality is a collage of overlapping events, with traces of promiscuity like Tracey Emin’s bed. The eminent historian of art of those years, Rosalind E. Krauss reexamined the real experience of modernism from postmodernism’s point of view and suggested a new functional explanation of the actual collage technique. In her opinion, the collage by no means reproduces the voice of reality, using newspapers and street advertisements, but it, on the contrary, deafens it, turning the reality itself into an empty place indeed.
Maria Dmistreva is a next time artist, when everybody, having said goodbye to the past so quickly, seeks the event, that would bring the present to a turning point. The collage with a wide variety of meanings, but lacking the last and most important one is not magical any more as it used to be thirty years ago. The artist knows about this change at first hand; collage for her is a technique of almost sculptural modeling of images and meanings. Through a thin surface of collage, as if through the icy crust over snow, one can sink into the mire of faceless time or else do a dance with the carefulness of a rope-walker, that would transform the shapeless time into an ideal and memorable shape; and that’s what Maria Dmitrieva strives for. For the ‘New projects for Anna Nova gallery’ competition she created a series of her friends’ portraits-collages, where the essence of an image is expressed in different fragments from the pages of glossy magazines. At the first try the artist managed to rearrange glossy images into the unforgettable, symbolic figures. Her self-portrait, assembled from milk and snow, depicts a white queen.
Next step for a spectator is to walk through the installation like through the inner tunnels of imagination, disintegrating the collage layer by layer in order to approach his own central point, where he can push off from the bottom and come up to the rippling surface of life again.