Limited Spaces N2
photo M. Ragozina
Like all installations presented at this exhibition “Limited Spaces-2” cannot exist without the viewer’s active involvement. On approaching the piece, the viewer must mount a bicycle and start pedaling at a suitable and steady speed only then will the projection of a film onto the screen start. In order to watch the film to the end one has to continue cycling without stopping.
This work is built around a performance, produced by two actors: a man riding a bicycle and a woman, who, concealed behind the screen, moves depending on the man's velocity, unintentionally creating changing reliefs which resemble sculptures. The abusive nature of the relationship embodied in the performance clearly draws on the ancient Greek myth about sculptor Pygmalion and his “artwork” Galatea on the one hand, and on the other references more contemporary feminist discourse, something to which the artist is far from being indifferent. The faster the man pedals, the faster and more forcedly the woman moves. Few trained artists could withstand such a speed. The work is also a test of one’s humanism: how far the viewer, who is cycling, can go on testing the capacity of the machine keeping in mind that inside there is a person who suffers as the piece progresses, tying herself in knots. By realizing this key issue of feminist discourse in terms of art, the artist accentuates and visualizes the problems of violence and manipulation, turning the piece into a metaphor for gender inequality, thus raising the issue of the necessity of revising gender role behavior and stereotypes imposed by society.
But there is also good news. In the version of the installation presented in the exhibition, the viewer discovers firstly that, in the process of immersing oneself in the film, one can physically experience what “to keep the situation under control” means. Secondly, one involuntarily becomes a witness of the first law of thermodynamics according to which energy can be neither created nor destroyed but only transformed from one form to another through various physical processes. Alexandra Dementieva never imposes her point of view, always giving the viewer the choice he or she can either engage with an interactive installation and agree with the artist's interpretation, make up his or her own explanation, or alternatively just pass by.