May 2010: Noah Becker In Discussion With Asya Reznikov

  Asya Reznikov, Packing Bride, installation view. photo: Michael Rosenthal

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.

 Asya Reznikov, Kitchen Sink, installation view. photo: Michael Rosenthal

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?

REZNIKOV: I just want the viewer to be compelled by the work visually and be drawn in -- if they are drawn in visually then they will discover more layers to the pieces, all of which will of course be filtered through the viewer's own personal experiences and "baggage". But I do not have an agenda that I need the viewer to realize. I have my personal impetus for creating the work and that's it -- the viewer can take from that what they will.

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, Jacob's Ladder, installation view. photo: Michael Rosenthal

  Asya Reznikov, installation view. photo Michael Rosenthal

BECKER: Do you begin with the video aspect of the objects then plan out the architecture of a piece? Or is it a process that happens during the working?

REZNIKOV: It depends on the piece. Sometimes I begin with what a "complete idea" -- what I want both the object and video to be. The work then develops and evolves as the piece is created. For example, "Kitchen Sink" is a cardboard box inside which are projected hands packing kitchen items. The box continually devours everything that is placed inside -- much more than the actual size of the box can contain. I had this idea and knew that I wanted to create the illusion of a bottomless box that swallows up everything rendering the act of packing exhausting and a practically endless task. After the idea, I needed to figure out how to create this illusion. However, often I do not have a specific piece in mind. I become interested in something because of its symbolism, humor, cultural meaning or just formal and aesthetic appeal and I video this. That is how I collected so much video footage of escalators, feet, airports, etc. It's similar to a collage artist who may have collections of certain imagery that eventually gets composed into a work.

  Asya Reznikov, Foreigner, installation view. photo: Michael Rosenthal

  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?

REZNIKOV: In creating the work for "Up-Routed" I got loads of tangential ideas that I'm looking forward to developing into finished works. In researching equipment for my work, I've discover new technology, some of which is not yet on the market, but will be soon, that opens up new possibilities for pieces that I've conceived but have not realized because of technological limitations. So I'm excited to dive into creating these works! I plan to continue my practice of using whatever materials I think best explore the concepts that I am thinking about. At the moment I'm very interested about creating sculpture that incorporates video. I love the idea of an object -- a sculpture -- that just jets plugged into an outlet -- simple and clear. The video element - the time based medium makes the work whole the object/video function together. My videos are endless loops that can be watched throughout but can also be seen for a moment. More is revealed the longer you watch but this is the same with painting. The longer you look at a great painting the more you discover but it's always all there. I feel the video portion of my work is more akin to painting than to film. The longer you look a the piece the more you'll discover but it's all there -- there is really no narrative that you have to sit through -- no beginning or end. I will also continue creating photographs in which I use sculptures that I make, like the "Relocating Home" photos, where I created models. I love building the models for those photographs! At some point I'm also interested in incorporating my drawings into the video part of my "video-sculptures" and into my photographs. I love the idea of layering different artistic practices and mediums together -- this practice of using one medium within another is somewhat reflective of my concepts also -- the layering of ideas about migration, foreignness, immigration, emigration, cultural identity and sense of home.

Editor-in-Chief: Noah Becker

Noah Becker is founder and editor-in-chief of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, a visual artist, jazz musician and writer.



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