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Waltz at Berlin, video still (2001)

Elena Kovylina

April 14–May 12, 2007

Opening Reception:
Saturday, April 14, 2007, 2–5pm

Pari Nadimi Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed performance artist Elena Kovylina. Kovylina’s first exhibition at Pari Nadimi Gallery will consist of documentation (videos, video stills and paintings) of some of her performances including her signature performance Waltz at Berlin and Waltz at Miami.

Elena Kovylina is an emerging Moscow and Paris-based artist whose confrontational performances concern the political significance of a woman’s experience in Russia today. Taking on the varied roles of author, aggressor, and object of desire, Kovylina’s devastating and visceral social critiques have made her among the most prominent young artist currently working in Russia.

Kovylina’s signature piece (performance) Waltz was conceived in 2001 in Berlin and has been performed in Germany and subsequently in several European cities in Europe and USA. The artist subverts the prevalent cliché of the “Russian woman” whose body became one of the main sources of revenues in the new capitalist economy of the 1990s. She also subtly comments on a forced “reconciliation” between Russia and the West, the former absolute war enemies and ideological adversaries. Choosing members of the Western audience to dance, the artist reverses the prevalent aesthetics of failure, empowering herself and symbolically activating what has been repressed.

In Waltz spectators are invited to dance with the artist, who is otherwise engaged in a strange ritual of decorating herself with military badges, downing shots of vodka, and smashing the empty glasses on the ground, all the while becoming precariously smashed herself. The audience’s role gradually shifts; whereas at the beginning of the performance Kovylina offers them a pleasant dance, by the end of the piece they’re confronted with having to support the slumping, wobbling, nearly incapacitated artist.

Elena Kovylina was featured in the Biennale of Sydney 2006, Australia and her up coming shows include: (video) “Madonna the flowers”, Katoptron, Museum Center at the Russian State University for Humanities, 2007, (project) – “Love after the cold war” Exhibition Black Quadrate, ZDH, 2nd Moscow Biennale, 2007, (video)+(group) Sots Art. Political Art in Russia and China, National Tretjakov gallery, 2nd Moscow Biennale, 2007, Petroliana, Contemporary Art Museum, 2nd Moscow Biennale, 2007, By Interaction, Lenin Museum, 2nd Moscow Biennale, 2007, Partners in Crime, Gallery MC, NY, 2007. Kovylina’s recent exhibitions include: Performance Festival RIAP, Quebec, Canada, 2006, “Red Shelter”, “Love after the cold war”, MAK Schindler House for Art and Architecture LA, USA, 2006, “The politics of Care” Whitney Museum, NY, 2005, “Legal Prostitution in Russia”, Museum of Modern Art, 1st Moscow Biennale, Moscow, 2005, “Walse” , “The seven sins”, Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, 2004, Redefining Action, Summer Scene, International Performing Art Festival, Salzburg, 2004, “Walse“ Sommerfrische, “Kunstlervideos mit Esprit“, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg , 2004 and“Domophone“, 1st Praguebiennale, Prague, 2003.

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