CHILD’S PLAY

“Playfulness” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you try to describe Russian museum culture. But a look inside Saint Petersburg’s Puppet Museum could prompt you to think twice before dismissing a ludic streak. “Every child’s fantasy place,” reads one enthusiastic online review; “it might look small and weird from the outside, but once you’re inside, it’s a fairytale.” A fairytale, perhaps – albeit a puzzling one, as Saint Petersburg native Sasha Chaika and Minsk-based make-up artist Angelina Smirnova’s series of photos attests. In his work Chaika photographs the weirder corners of “post-post-Soviet” society. Here, alternating images of humans and dolls raise the question of which is which: the living subjects often seem more artificial than the marionettes themselves, like an analogue uncanny valley. The effect is disorienting, even paranoiac, as our “natural” perceptions are reversed. It’s also camp: both animate and inanimate subjects/objects are kitsch pushed to its limits, frivolity and intentional artifice aimed at upsetting conventional tastes.

 

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  • DISAPPEARING BERLIN 2021

    In a city undergoing rapid change, the Schinkel Pavillion's event series DISAPPEARING BERLIN brings artists and audiences to iconic architectural spaces facing redevelopment. On September 18 and 19 2021, DISAPPEARING BERLIN returns alongside Reference Studios with a dynamic program of artist talks, performances, and interventions at Bierpinsel – a brutal gem of 1970s futurism that, after years on the market and more than a decade of vacancy, has recently been sold to a private developer. More