07.02 — 06.04.08
OPENING: FEBRUARY 6, AT 6 P.M.
The Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève is pleased to present the first institutional exhibition in Switzerland by artist YURI LEIDERMAN.
Yuri Leiderman’s work weaves an intricate set of references deriving from history, literature, ethnography, or geography. The artist resorts to pseudo-scientific methodology, applied to absurd postulates. Also calling himself a formalist, he uses various references to culture in collages that are found in his powerful installations, where superimpositions make for a blurred interpretation and, through what is not represented, puzzle and question our relationship to the world and to memory.
In the late 1980’s, after studying chemistry, Yuri Leiderman (born 1962 in Odessa, Ukraine), developed a poetical work that uses painting, as well as literary texts, installations or performance. Based between Moscow and Berlin, his practice applies to subjects as diverse as scientific nomenclature, ethnographic stereotypes, music, or animal behaviour.
For his exhibition in Geneva, a mural work made with soup (“3rd Millennium”, 2008) sits next to a televised debate between Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky on the Vietnam War (“Vietnam: Violet Stripes”, 2004). The artist works with confrontation: scientific rationality versus the disconcerting nature of avant-garde, personal experience versus classic references.
Amongst the presented works, a mural photograph entitled “Katyn Victims and Khatin Victims meet on a Dusty Road on the Hills near Cape Town” (2005) revisits a World War 2 event that still poisons the relations between Poland and Russia. The artist refers to various theoretical texts, amongst which Russian thinker N. F. Fyodorov’s “Philosophy of the Common Task”, published in 1906. This theory defines common good as an actual, physical revival of each and every person who has lived on earth so far. Then the victims seem to share, through their ascent in the air and through photomontage, a common and mysterious fate. Moreover, the monumental work is ornate with oriental decorations that add to mystery.
The whole arrangement of the exhibition physically translates this cacophony of references, as the same audio-video tape is played at simultaneous, non-synchronised pace on a dozen monitors scattered in the exhibition space. The artist awkwardly dances a kind of tribute to Trojan War heroes to an excerpt of Schubert’s Fifth Symphony (“The Dances of Killed Trojans”, 1999-2000). The clashing superimposition of musical lines recalls 1960’s serial music, endowing the exhibition with a hypnotic effect.
“The Names of Electrons 2” (1999-2000) is yet another scientific experiment that is destined for failure. The installation soundtrack (the artist singing Wagner) attempts to activate relations between the electrons of the copper tattoos on the Eskimos’ cheeks that are drawn on paper.
The copper plates are connected to light bulbs that never go on.
The performative dimension is essential in the artist’s practice (he dances, sings, and recites texts). Through personal experience, he works towards the deconstruction of the apparent stability of, amongst other things, scientific knowledge or the memory work.
Yuri Leiderman’s intense work can be seen as a game that needs decoding, and as strange poetry that questions our interpretation system and reveals our uncertainties.
Exhibition in collaboration with IKON Gallery, Birmingham.
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Exhibition: 07.02 — 06.04.08
Opening: 06.02.2008 at 6 p.m.
Curator: Denis Pernet.