Garden of trust, 2022

Visual correspondence between Gluklya and Kati Horna


opening 26/02/2022
27/02 > 30/04/2022

« On the ground floor there was a rectangular garden, full of flowering plants and tall trees whose branches reached up to the second floor. Kati was in charge of watering it, and in the meantime she photographed every flower, every leaf, every insect. Suddenly we heard her screaming, she was calling us. We thought she got hurt. Leonora, Chiki, Gaby, Pablo, José, the dog and I,we all rushed down the stairs together, we were frightened. Kati, perfectly fine, was photographing a chrysalis. “Look, this is the divine moment! The caterpillar is dying and the butterfly has yet to be born. What for one is a coffin for the other is a crib. But if the caterpillar has ceased to exist, the butterfly does not exist yet. In short, no one exists at the moment. I’m photographing nothing .. ”

When a fiery red insect spread its wings and started fluttering in front of the flowers, Kati murmured: “nothing has become thick. A new illusion is born ”, and Leonora commented:“ we should open up like chrysalis too and to re-emerge new ones, with straight hair similar to the rays of the sun, unimaginably other . » The spiritual journey of Alejandro Jodorowski : The Creator of “El Topo”. By Alejandro Jodorowski, 2005.

In an esoteric garden suspended in time and impossible to place in space, talking trees dance, other figures wear animal masks and contemporary surrealism is discussed. Some creatures are confronting each other: they are passionate, vital women, free from superstructures and constraints, capable of narrating the history and carrying on their personal revolution with intensity and desire. They talk about female resistance, emancipation and identity: sitting in this garden there are the surrealist photographer Kati Horna, her husband José Horna, the surrealist writer and painter Leonora Carrington, her husband Chiki, the painter Remedios Varo, the playwright and director Alejandro Jodorowsky, the British poet known for his patronage of the surrealist movement Edward Jones, the artist and designer Pedro Friedberg.

While the laws of logic remain excluded from this vision, rituals, unconscious and disturbing visions take place. Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna were the protagonists of the lesser known Surrealism: coming from England, Spain and Hungary, they first met in the Paris in the Thirties and fled into exile in Mexico with the outbreak of the Second World War. Once free from the Nazi-Fascist terror, they begin an artistic collaboration that gives a new imprint to the surrealist movement, a relationship also marked by the deep friendship that binds them.

In particular, the photographic work by Kati Horna was able to record grim aspects of reality and to tell traumatic historical events through dreamlike visions. Horna was a photographer with an intricate biography made up of travels and relationships and whose work is characterized by a way of rethinking the role of photography within an historical context such as that of the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi persecution and the exile according to a totally unusual and avant-garde narrative of the conflict. Horna implements a phenomenology of the invisible, that means, she was able to illustrate history with images that are not those of a reportage but using photomontages, compositional elements as if they were objects of a theatrical scenario of horror and absurd but without any explicitness. Horna was able to always keep this tension between the inside and the outside, between the on and off camera, between what is recorded in the shot and what is not immediately visible but requires an evocative thrust linked to the imagination.

The gallery space turns into a theater of the absurd consisting of a stage, costumes and props, elements that acquire new meanings linked to experience and encounters. This contemporary whirlwind carnival is directed by Gluklya, as heir to the socio-political battles fought by the surrealist artists, carries on a engagement through her artistic practice.

Gluklya, through installations, performances , conceptual clothes and works on paper, explores the concept of fragility as an invisible strength, facing the theme of the phenomenology of the invisible in a contemporary key. This research starts from the analysis of the history of Kati Horna and from this encounter that has become an expedient for an analysis of the political and social conflicts of our time. Through playful ways, Gluklya proposes as a solution to injustices in these dark times: a garden of trust, in which to meet and find ourselves with a new sense of collective resistance through hope ,union and imagination.

The concept of the show revolves around the idea of a visual dialogue between contemporary artists, represented by Gluklya, and the heritage of historical surrealism. “Garden of Trust: visual correspondence between Gluklya and Kati Horna” is subdivided in acts, like a play, that narrates the story underlying in the exhibition.

The first act was performance in which Gluklya engages with different people individually about the topic of care and contemporary resistance. These encounters reveal the most contradictory aspects of contemporary caring. The dialogues then are transposed into portraits that represent our inner selves through conceptual clothes. The connection between surrealism and activism is finally discussed in the garden inside the Theater of Trust, an installation that will be open for the whole time of the exhibition as a space, free from any judgment, where visitors can sit and chat.

The second act is the representation and exhibition of the, imaginary and imagined, dialogue, between the two artists. The visitor is welcomed by the photographic series by Kati Horna Oda a la Necrofilia (1962), an emblematic work of the artist who ate that point had lived in Mexico for several years. Oda a la necrophilia, where a female figure (played by Leonora Carrington), hovers around a mask lying on a bed. There is an immediate element of mystery as a somber drama unfolds in the first images. A shrouded figure moves from one side of the bed to the other and then prostrates itself sadly, before the mask’s empty, petrified face. The images exude pain but also an immediate eroticism: the lonely eroticism of a woman who worships the emptiness of the figure, who keeps vigil over it in a kind of ritual.  Alongside the black and white photographs, Gulklya’s watercolors and installations from the Corona Drawings series, created during the pandemic, recall that sense of dark mystery and imminent drama. If Horna responds to sadness with eroticism, Gluklya does so with an inexplicable sense of excitement.

 [1]  “Jodorowski e le maghe”, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2014, p 67;

◆◆◆Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya (artist name Gluklya) (Leningrad, 1969) is considered as one of the pioneers of Russian Performance and Feminist artistic practice. At present she lives and works both in her birth town Petersburg and in Amsterdam. Gluklya uses installations, performance, video, text and research to develop her concept of ‘fragility’ – a subject that should be interpreted not in the sense of ‘beauty,’ but in that of ‘invisible strength.’ In her projects, she addresses the personal stories of her characters, analyzing them and revealing the conflict between political systems and a person’s inner world. Her work process is playful and her studio often turns into a meeting place where people work together on conceptualizing clothes and making other useable artistic items. In 2017, Gluklya was stationed in the former Bijlmerbajes prison, a unique location where she initiated the Utopian Unemployment Union (UUU), a platform for long-term collaborations with refugees, asylum seekers, students, art practitioners, scholars and other people. Under the umbrella of the ‘UUU’ and in collaboration with TAAK and her collaborators, Gluklya developed the Carnival of the Oppressed Feelings – a protest performance in Amsterdam. This performance was turned into an exhibition, curated by Charles Esche, in Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, NL. Gluklya’s oeuvre speaks of indignation and hope. She makes us attentive of injustice and she proposes playful ways through which people can resist injustice. Her work points to hidden tactics that people might invent, with the help of the artist, to empower themselves and navigate through structures of repression. During the 56th Venice Biennale, Gluklya presented forty-three ‘Clothes for Demonstration Against False Election of Vladimir Putin (2011-2015)’ in the exhibition ‘All the World’s Futures,’ curated by Okwui Enwezor. Her work has been exhibited in Russia and abroad in several solo and group shows: ‘Positions 4’, a cura di Charles Esche, Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, NL (2018/2019); The Return Of Memory, Manchester’s Home, Manchester, UK (2017); dis/order, art and activism in Russia since 2000, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, DL (2017); A Romance with Revolution, ACC Galerie Weimar and Pushkinskaya-10, St. Petersburg, Russia (2017); Disturbance, Kunsthalle der Sparkasse, Leipzig (2017); Hero Mother, Berlin (2016); Universal Hospitality (2016), Vienna; Feminism is Politics, Pratt Institute, NY (2016); New York, USA; Debates on Division: When the Private Becomes Public, Manifesta 10, Public Program, St. Petersburg (2014); Dump Dreams, Shedhalle Zurich, ( 2013); Utopian Unions, MMOMA, Moscow (2013); Reflecting Fashion, MUMOK Vienna (2013 ), Wings of Migrants, Gallery Akinci, Amsterdam (2012). Gluklya’s works are part of important collections such as:  the collection of Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, NL;  Gemeentemuseum Arnhem, NL; Moscow House of Photography, RU; Oslo National Museum, NO; Oslo Contemporary Art Museum, NO; Zimmerly Collection US; Mark Suchek, Lublyana; Archive of the Contemporary Conflict, London, UK; Mузей / State Center Contemporary Art , Moscow, RU; MMOMA, Moscow, RU; Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, IT; Museum Reina Sophia, Madrid, ES;  Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, RS; The Library of Museum of Modern Art (collection of newspapers), New York, USA.

Kati Horna (Budapest, 1912- Mexico City, 2000) born Katalin Deutsch, she was a cosmopolitan and avanguard photographer: her work is characterized by the influence of the principles of surrealist Photography and her own moving approach to photojournalism and documentary photography. Kati Horna began her photographic career in the young Republic of Hungary in 1933 where she attended, together with her friend Robert Capa, the most prestigious school of photography in Budapest, led by József Pécsi, she moved to Paris in 1933. In the French Capital she turned her attention to the life she saw around her in the streets and cafés: she was seduced by the unexpected, by the ability of objects to change even the most familiar reality following the Parisian surrealist model of those years. Between 1937 and 1939  the Spanish Republic commissioned her some photos of the Spanish Civil war, documenting the devastating effects of the war on ordinary people. Kati Horna dedicated her attention on ordinary life marked by the conflict, but far from the war scene. Her photos are mainly portaits of women who stayed at home in order to look after theirs children, to wash cloths in public fontains, to carry on an apperance of life. In Spain, Kati Horna meets also her future husband, José Horna, an Andalusian painter and sculptor, with whom she carry out many future works. Together they manage to leave Spain for Paris first, but just shortly, and then to reach Mexico.During the Second World War, Mexico City was inhabited by runaway artists and intellectuals who created an extraordinarily vibrant cultural atmosphere. In her Mexican production Horna manages to put together the cultural aspects of her nomadic life, the Hungarian and French experiences, but above all those in Spain. Here her photographic compositions become combinations as if they were architecture, with the presence of dreamlike objects, often abandoned dolls, followed by theatrical scenes, museum rooms and portraits of friends. Sometimes her life companions appear, such as the two surrealist artists, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, often her husband or some fragments of their domestic life, which allows the entire visual world of Kati to emerge: the attention to the formal composition, to the surprise and at the same time the atmosphere of collaboration of the avant-gardes.
Among her most important shows: Kati Horna. Fotografías de la guerra civil española (1937-1938), University of Salamanca, Spagna (1992); Kati Horna: Recuento de una obra. Fondo Kati Horna, (1995); Retratos de la contienda, Palacio de la Merced, Cordova, Spagna (2009); Surreal Friends: Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK (2010); Nostalgia por lo perdido / Asombro por lo encontrado, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca – MACO, Messico (2012); Kati Horna, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Messico (2014), Musée Jeu de Paume, Parigi (2014) e Museo de Arte Contemporàneo de Monterrey – MARCO (2015); Told and Untold: The Photo Stories of Kati Horna in the illustrated Press, American Society, New York, US (2016).

They are among us, 2022

AAC Galerie Weimar


12.12.2021 – 02.04,2022

“They are among us” is an installation conceived especially for the ACC using objects of clothing, light, and sound of the metronome, which was inspired by current and historical cases of denunciation, including those surrounding the ‘witch hunts’ and the Gulag under Stalin. The work seeks to reproduce in the exhibition space a sphere of uncertainty and anxiety in which the denounced do not know who the denunciator is and whether he is not even directly present himself.
The atmosphere of the installation reproduces the atmosphere of suspicion when at vernissage people for sure knows that denunciator came, but they did not know who is he or she. It can be any person. It is the everyday reality in Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and many other countries.

Propoganda Flowers at group show Can you be revolutionary and still like a flowers

group show NEST / Den Haag ,10 September 2021

Propaganda Flowers is a series of drawings that are accompanied by stories from interviews with people from different countries on the connection between politics and flowers. For example, the Kimilsungia violet orchid was named after Kim Il-Sung, former leader of North Korea, and tells a narrative about the remembrances of socialism. The Vampire Tulip asks questions about human hypocrisy, distracted from the water crisis in Africa, whereas the Welwitschia flower is accompanied by the text about the flower as a symbol for democracy. Each drawing touches upon the ethics of politics, combining the sweet symbolism of flowers with deep geopolitical concerns.

For the exhibition at Nest in The Hague, Can you be a revolutionary and still like flowers?, a new chapter of the Propaganda Flowers series was created. The works was done in the context of Russia , with supportive conversations with the eco -activist Maria Tinika who created a Saving Trees society in St -Petersburg. 


photo documentation of the Installation : Charlott Markus



Den Haag Centraal:

Groene Amsterdammer: and 

Carnival is Trying to Overcome Suffering,2019

Van Abbe Museum ,POSITIONS # 4

Positions #4 introduces the work of four international artists two individuals and one group: Gluklya(Natalia Pershina -Jakimanskaya), Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti and Naeem Mohaiemen. These artists all share an activist practice that draws on the history of colonialism, occupation and political conflict to make work about living in the world today. 

The exhibition includes film, drawing, architecture, models, archives, texts and clothing to build up elaborate images of particular parts of the world and conditions in places both near and far away from Eindhoven. Often the artistic practices sit at the crossroads of cultural anthropology, forensic science, documentary filmmaking, self-organization and collaboration. All four artists teach us – each in a different way – about the capacity of different minorities and marginal communities to cope with difficult life situations and survive, if not thrive, despite the powers exercised over them.

Carnival is trying to Overcome Suffering

Gluklya’s practice simulates current socio-political urgencies and it contests power structures that function in the public urban space. Gluklya’s work process is distinguished by playfulness, as her studio turns into a meeting point where diverse collaborators work together on translating mutual socio-political inquiries into conceptualized clothes and other useable artistic items, which are later applied within further performance activities characterised by protest gestures in the public space.

In 2017, Gluklya’s studio was located in the former prison Bijlmerbajes, where different artists, refugees, and other cultural NGO’s activities were accommodated. Motivated by the unique location of her studio and its surrounding, she initiated the Utopian Unemployment Union(UUU), a platform where various collaborations have been created, including long-term relations with refugees, asylum seekers, students, different art-practitioners, scholars and other people. Under the umbrella of the ‘UUU’ and in collaboration with TAAK and her collaborators, Gluklya developed the ‘Carnival of the Oppressed Feelings’ – a protest performance in the public space of the city, that took place in the route between Bijlmerbajes and Dam square in Amsterdam.

Afterall Journal 2019

Clothes for the Demonstration Against false Vladimir Putin Elections 2011-2015

Installation, mix textile, wood, hand writing 

43 sticks x 3 m high

56 Venice Biennale,  «All the Worlds Futures » 2015

The work originated with Protest Clothes which participated in real street protests in St. Petersburg in 2011-2012. However, only a few of those survived; the rest were new. The objects are thus “re-created” representatives of protesters with different political positions. Most of the objects  included written slogans. The slogans have been divided into two categories: “Real” slogans people were screaming during the protests (“A Thief Must Sit in Jail”, “Bring Back Our voices”, “Russia Will be Free”, “The anti-abortion law is Russias shame”, “Vova, cut the crap and piss off”, “Russia without Putin”) and the “Utopian” ones, invented by me or my friends, that represent imaginative longing for a better society (“Artists and Migrants Unite”, “Does Russian Mean Orthodox?”, “Students and Veterans against Criminals”)    

Interview with Anna Battista

Publications about Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale: The Overproduct of Art?

Mass Protest against Putin continue… in Venice. The Work of Factory of Found Clothes at the Venice Biennale

Elena Volkova The Protest Dress: Shoot Them By Hanging (Gluklya at the Venice Biennial)

Do you remember how you chose what to wear to the protests of 2011-2013? In winter, people got their white summer trousers out of the closet and bought white scarves and flowers. I remember how on Strastnoy Boulevard a “white knight” appeared, walking toward me out of a restaurant, carrying a bouquet of white chrysanthemums, a crane’s pink beak on his nose.   Slightly drunk, smiling blissfully, he folded a couple of paper beaks for us, and we attached ourselves to the zany flock of the insubordinate.

What nostalgia we feel today, looking back at those white jackets, trousers and scarves that were our protest clothes! They hang gloomily on our hangers, tired and disappointed, or lie on shelves, remembering their glory days at the carnival, when they found their voice and served not merely to clothe the body, but, unthinkable as it may seem, to expose the emperor’s lack of new clothes.

An artist from Saint Petersburg with the childish-sounding pseudonym of “Gluklya” (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya) treats a piece of clothing as a living being.  Anna Tolstova notes that “the most ordinary dress—fragile, throwaway, worthless, the ridiculous and frivolous material that the FFC [Factory of Found Clothes] works with in performances, video and installations, was conceptualized as a kind of pan-human universal, emerging from the everyday and inserting itself into culture. The dress is both a protector of the body’s memory with its intimate experiences, a record of cultural and subcultural codes, a political manifesto, and a weapon of resistance against gender and social stereotypes.” (

Clothes have a life of their own: they travel, march with students, go into seclusion, go scuba diving, they may even, following in the footsteps of “Poor Liza,” jump into the Small Swan Canal (, or they may go to a protest march against the falsification of elections. Gluklya’s installation at the Venice Biennial is called “Clothing for Demonstrations Against Vladimir Putin’s False Elections in 2011–2015.”

Gluklya has a special affection for white clothes, and does not like new clothes, which have no personal stories to tell. In her creative duet with Tsaplya (Olga Egorova) the two of them created the FFC (Factory of Found Clothes), which existed until 2014.  I have always loved Andrei Bely and his metaphysics of the color white, so I therefore immediately took to calling the artist Belaya (White) Gluklya, all the more appropriate since one of the installations of the Gluklya-Tsaplya duet was entitled “The Psychotherapy Cabinet of the Whites” (2003).

Love for old white clothing fits perfectly with the theme of the white ribbon movement, which very quickly dropped into the past and simultaneously lives on in the protests and repressive actions of the present.

The hopes connected with these clothes have been replaced by apathy and despair; the Bolotnaya Square case became a new triumph of lawlessness and fortified the feeling of hopelessness. The subject of protests is in many ways a traumatic one: those who went out on the streets then were victims of injustice and violence, who soon became victims of a new violence, spreading into the bloodletting on the soil of Ukraine.

The white ribbon protests abound with stories, faces, images and themes that present a rich narrative for art, including the art of representing political practices, which Pyotr Pavlensky calls art about politics, as opposed to political activism using art as a means of direct action.

In an interview with Radio Svoboda, Gluklya said that the installation contains “a certain amount of ambivalence, without which, in my view, art does not exist. But at the same time it was very important for me to leave it ‘black and white’ in terms of my position. And that was a surprisingly difficult task. All my energy went into that.” Her mighty effort created a multiplicity of meanings.

Ghosts on Stilts

A few dozen tall T-shaped wooden poles stand by the wall. “Talking” clothes with slogans delicately embroidered in red on a white background (such as “Russia will be free”) hang upon them, with others written in black on white or orange (“You can’t even imagine us,” “NO,” “Power to the millions, not the millionaires,” “America gave me $10 to stand here,” “Does Russian mean Orthodox?” on a Russian Railways vest), or in red on black (“A thief must sit in jail”).

They look like a column of ghosts who have stepped out of the void to remind us about the recent demonstrations. These apparitions appear to be the rebellious spirits of protest. One-legged, they also bring to mind clowns on stilts, conveying the carnivalistic atmosphere of the first marches and rallies. The associations with ghosts and clowns add a multitude of visual and literary resonances to the viewer’s impression.

Tau Crosses

A simple pole with a crossbeam was used in the southern and eastern parts of the Roman Empire as a site of execution, on which criminals were crucified. This type of cross is known by various names: Tau cross (after the letter in the Greek alphabet), St. Anthony’s cross, crux сommissa, among others. It is highly probable that Yeshua of Nazareth was crucified on just such a cross. There is also a long white shirt—the charred “sackcloth of shame” in which criminals were led around the city—reminiscent of the robes of Christ.

The wall of “elevation of the cross” references Christian images of crucifixion, and more broadly, the typology of execution. The artist seems to have created an amalgam of different types of lethal execution: the trousers without a top and the shirt without trousers conjure up a dismembered body, the dress on poles a beheaded, hanged, or crucified one, and what is more, they are all placed up against the wall, as if in front of a firing squad.

This array of crucifixions can be seen, of course, as hyperbole about repressions or the expectation of wholesale slaughters of protesters, but today, with the police ready to declare their right to shoot in crowded places, including at women, Gluklya’s installation looks like something out of the evening news.

The Female Body

There is a girl’s white dress bordered with a blood-red thread; a ballet tutu with a rusty hammer-and-sickle bottle opener in place of a head (a vivid symbol of our culture); on the back of an overcoat, an image of a woman being dragged into a paddy wagon by OMON agents (riot police); on a summer frock, a drawing of a “witch” tied to the stake, on fire.

The theme of the sacrifice of women puts the viewer in mind of Pussy Riot, who have elicited people’s bloodthirsty fantasies and calls for the most horrendously cruel forms of punishment ( The exhibit also contains headgear made to resemble a balaclava helmet. Not explicit, but ambivalent, a kind of hint.

Gender violence is one of the recurring themes of the tragic parade of clothes. It seems to be no accident that Gluklya’s exhibit at the Venice Biennial opened around the same time as Alketa Xhafa-Mripa’s installation at the stadium in Prishtina, Kosovo (; Xhafa-Mripa, born in Kosovo, lives in Great Britain): there, a few thousand dresses and skirts, hung up on white ropes, testify to the sexual violence that occurred on a mass scale during the armed conflict in Kosovo of 1998–1999.

Dress Code

In Ludmila Ulitskaya’s novel The Funeral Party, Robins formerly Rabinovich, the far-sighted owner of a funeral home,  “had difficulty in determining the client’s property status” at a funeral attended not only by Jews but also by blacks, American Indians, rich Anglo-Saxons and “numerous Russians,” comprising both “respectable citizens” and “out-and-out scoundrels.”  Can social status be determined by protest clothing? Here, too, were various sorts of people: office clerks in waistcoats, hippie-punk-goths, sophisticated women and Poor Lizas, ballerinas and Lovelaces. Their clothing—the body of their souls—is torn and in danger. They, too, are the targets of Gluklya’s reproach: “Are all of us really like this torn old rag?”


A l’Arsenal, c’est l’artiste russe Gluklya qui dénonce le durcissement du régime de Moscou, à travers ses “Vêtements pour manifestations contre de fausses élections de Vladimir Poutine”.

Perchés sur des madriers en bois, ces drôles de pièces de tissu portent des messages en russe: “un voleur doit être assis en prison”, “je veux que la Russie devienne le plus beau pays du monde” ou seulement “va-t-en”.

Venice Bienally articles–venice-a-closer-look-at-all-the-worlds-futures


In the best of all possible worlds one would hope to find works of art that are both visually engaging and layered with meaning. Of 136 artists or groups of artists featured in the International exhibitions, very few made me pause. One of them was Russia’s Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya Gluklya​, who contributed a suite of clothes and placards for an anti-Putin demonstration, with many surreal, startling touches. Considering the treatment dished out to the band, Pussy Riot, Gluklya’s work was as politically edgy as anything in the show, but also witty and inventive.

Interview with Anna Battista, 2015

56th Venice Biennale, 19 May, 2015

Garments as Private Narration, Garments as Public Political Banners: Gluklya’s Clothes for the Demonstration Against False Election of Vladimir Putin

Clothes transform, describe and define us, revealing what we are and often sending out messages to the people surrounding us. But, if garments are a form of non-verbal communication, they can be used to silently tell the story of our lives, they help us explaining how we may feel on a day to day basis, and they could even be employed as political statements or banners to protest and make our voices heard. At least that’s what artist Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya – better known as Gluklya – suggests us. Born in Leningrad and dividing her time between Saint Petersburg and Amsterdam, Gluklya has developed quite a few projects moving from clothes and garments. Together with Olga Egorova (Tsaplya) she be-came a co-founder in 1995 of artist collective The Factory of Found Clothes (FFC; in 2012 Gluklya took over the leadership of the group, while becoming also an active member of the Chto Delat?—meaning “What is to be done?”—platform). The collective was mainly set to tackle, through installations, performances, videos and social re-search, modern issues such as the dichotomy between the private and the public sphere or the position of marginal and liminal groups of people in our society.

In Gluklya’s practice clothes transform therefore into tools, elements that link and connect art and everyday life. In her latest installation currently on display at Venice’s Arsenale during the 56th International Art Exhibition, the artist questions visitors about the legitimacy of Putin’s election. Derived from the FFC’s ongoing performance ‘Utopian Clothes Shop’ (2004-), “Clothes for the demonstration against false election of Vladimir Putin” (2011-2015) consists in a series of garments hung on wooden posts, like banners. Each garment is different from the other: there are white tutu-like tulle dresses and heavy coats in military green; partially burnt garments with slogans such as ‘Stop Slavery!’ and pieces decorated with prints or embroidered motifs; a dress with a large red rose appliqued around the chest area tragically evokes blood, while black cones of fabric conceptually erupt from one simple white dress and a random valenki boot provides a temporary and surreal head for one of these silent protesting banners.

Though different one from the next, all the vestments have the same purpose: they challenge the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin’s re-election to president. In this way the garments cross the private and personal sphere, changing aim and objective, turning into public and political weapons, assuming new values and meanings, and becoming even more ominous when considering the recent reports by monitor organizations and Western diplomats, claiming that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is slowly continuing—even though Moscow says it’s sticking to a ceasefire agreement—and may lead to a summer offensive. “The place of the artist is on the side of the weak”, states the FFC manifesto that also considers the artist as “a friend” and “accomplice”. Gluklya’s new installation does exactly that, positioning the artist next to ordinary people and prompting them to stop being afraid and make their voices heard.

Your installation inside the Arsenale—entitled “Clothes for the demonstration against the false election of Vladimir Putin”—challenges the legitimacy of Putin’s re-election. In your opinion, how difficult it is for an artist -and in particular a woman artist and feminist -to be heard in Russia at the moment without incurring in problems such as censorship or repression?

Gluklya: I actually do not think there is much risk because people in power are not interested too much in art. Yet I do think that con-temporary art must have this risk-taking component in its concept. One of the pieces features a slogan by poet and literary theorist Pavel Arseniev, the representative voice of progressive forces, stating “Represent us? You can’t even imagine us!”

How many garments are there in your installation and what do they symbolize – fears, hopes or change?

Gluklya: The installation is part of the concept of Utopian realism, an idea I have been developing for the last 12 years. There are 43garments in this work and they symbolize the courage and internal beauty of oppressed people who decide to resist injustice. Fears, hope and change are also tackled. Through this work I also want to show people’s aggressiveness—and in particular the aggressiveness of victims—and anger, their bitterness and grief. People may be passive and patient for many years, but, eventually, a time will come when they rise and they rise with an axe. My work is about the aspect of “becoming human” and rising again after too many years spent sleeping and about the euphoria generated by being together. You could argue that the protest dramatically failed as people went again to sleep, that’s why there are some black pieces on the ground in the installation, to call to mind a graveyard, a cemetery. Yet the objects express also my tenderness and love to the people who found dignity and protested.

Did you take inspiration for the garments from any particular Russian artist such as Varvara Stepanova and Lyubov Popova for what regards the shapes, colors and themes?

Gluklya: I do not actually call them “garments” as I conceive them as “speaking clothes”. I love Varvara Stepanova and Lyubov Popova of course, but I did not take inspiration from them. The inspiration comes from the Russian avant-garde in general and that unique historical moment when art and politics were united together.

In your installation you use clothes almost as banners. Your coats, dresses or shirts include indeed slogans, pictures, or cones of fabric that protrude from them. Do you feel that at the moment in Russia it is important first to be seen in order to be heard?

Gluklya: If I were a a singer or a speaker, I would say that to be heard is the most important thing. But as a visual artist I think this is the most organic way to express my ideas.

Did you ever think about working with a Russian fashion designer and maybe develop a collection of clothes that may provide people with garments charged with political meanings?

Gluklya: That would be great, but I wouldn’t do it with a Russian designer or any other fashion designers, maybe I would do it with a clever producer. It would be great to know somebody in the UK for example who may be interested.

In this year’s Biennale quite a few artists responded to Okwui Enwezor’s brief ‘All the World’s Futures’ with works focusing on themes such as politics, immigration and social issues. In which ways can art be turned into a powerful weapon for the most disenfranchised people in the world in a context such as the Venice Biennale where there are many wealthy visitors, collectors and gallerists?

Gluklya: That is actually a sophisticated question for a PhD dissertation, a book or a film. I think you have to try your best to be honest with yourself and other people and doing good art which can move somebody and force them to think also in other directions, and ponder more about the world’s situation rather than just about finding a strategy to raise your own personal capital. Actually, at the beginning of my involvement in this year’s Biennale when it wasn’t clear yet what I was going to show, I proposed to let in for free all those people bringing with them some clothes that had a story. This idea came from my long-term project entitled the Museum of the Utopian Clothes.

Will you be taking part in any other events/exhibitions in the next few months?

Gluklya: My video ‘Wings of Migrants’ (which Okwui also wants to show at the Biennale) and other works were on display until last week at the Barbara Gross Gallery in Munich, as part of the event ‘Female Views on Russia’ that also features Anna Jermolaewa and Taisiya Krugovykh. I’m also working on the installation dedicated to Joseph Brodsky at the Achmatova Garden in Saint Petersburg and on a social opera with the TOK curatorial team about the struggle of local people against gentrification and other infringed human rights. I’m currently thinking of working with special fire resistant textiles, a discovery I made while I focused on the installation for the Biennale. I do also hope that I will find the necessary funds to make a new theatre performance—’Debates on Division N. 2’ (the first ‘Debates’ took place at Manifesta this year)—in Tbilisi, Georgia. Clothes for Demonstration against false election of Vladimir Putin 2011-2015 Installation overview ‘All the World’s Futures,’ 56th Venice Biennale, 2015

Installations Utopian Unions

Installation ММОМА/Moscow/2013

Inspired by Natalie Pershina | Copyright © 2018