Russian artist Victoria Marchenkova's gorgeous wall sculptures are an ongoing exploration of ideas around Millennial identity and the relationship between technology and alchemical or spiritual concepts. Alchemy, of course, is the the magical "science" of trying to make gold, just like the Millennial generation (anyone born from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s) pursues a better, perhaps idealized way of life in today's complex and globalized world. Utilizing metals and glass, the pieces are typically backlit, illuminating the gorgeous and colorful remnants of alchemical experiments.
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YS: Can you tell me about yourself? Where do you live/work? What was your art education like?
VM: I am based in Moscow and graduated from the Rodchenko Art School four years ago. It is a part of the Multimedia Art Museum infrastructure. The focus of my education was in connection between technologies, theory and integration into the local art scene. Plus a little bit of magic and good atmosphere.
What first interested you in making art?
I had interest in art since I remember myself, but my parents wanted a normal life and a normal career for me. And I tried to start it. I studied public relations and worked as a photo-editor at a popular news website, when I fell in love with contemporary art. I had a break between work and university in time schedule: I watched movies and hung out with my friends, but I got bored with that quite fast. So I began visiting exhibitions (I remember the one that really impressed me at that time - Yasumasa Morimura at Gary Tatintsyan gallery). When I found out that I had seen all the exhibitions on display, I understood that I should do something myself. There were years of education after that: private painting lessons and the Rodchenko Art School.
The contemporary art field in 2008 was a very vibrant as Russia flourished with energy of huge oil money, and it seemed that even the global crisis had no negative effect on the country.
Who or what are some of your influences?
High-tech architecture, Impressionism and Rococo, Moscow conceptualism. If to say contemporary artists, I am a little bit jealous of Peter Doig's life. I would like to find an ideal balance of professional recognition and private life some day.
What is the Millennials Alchemy series about?
There are traces of alchemic experiments inside of glass tubes. I collect patterns from random material as Millennials try to define themselves from multiple cultural trends, eclectic spiritual and sociopolitical movements, and very special fetishes. All their feelings are inside and only closeup give you a chance to understand the real them with leftover of inner fire or burnout. Alchemy is definitely not a rational science; it is full of faith and magic.
This project is special in my career as for the first time I work with a producer - George Arzamasov. All steps from developing unique technology and contract agreement to routine everyday work was interesting experience. I can say that in this situation you should really trust your partner, and it is differs from the work with curator or gallery. It is important that the producer has a productive, creative view from aside. I believe that good, professional collaborations refine artists in the best way. It is that lesson taught in art school.
What is your studio like? How much time do you spend in the studio?
Almost all the time! It is a common white cube with day lightning. For a long time I've been dreaming about mansard type of space with day light, but you know... one Russian curator ironically recommended I resettle to Paris.
How do you get started on a new piece? Where do your ideas come from?
From communication with new people and atmosphere. For example, paintings from "My Parents Think I Am Always Getting Higher..." series were about the grey zone, people with potentiality and inner dramas. These paintings are multilayered and usually based on mobile photography. I would like to remember how communication looked because I always felt very blurred being around these people.
The series "...But I Am Just Fairy Of Normalization" is a continuation and has the opposite mood. It is about young bright things. So the paintings are flashy, with gold accents. All of them were done in three sessions, speedy and light. My current series - Millennials Alchemy - came out of a technological idea contributed by the producer and developed together.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment or moment of success so far as an artist?
I always say to myself to be happy with my situation, because "not enough" is the most ordinary artist's feeling. What I consider important was the point of independence from education (as I graduated from video art class) and movement to painting and material production.
What do you think is the most challenging part of being an artist?
This opportunity to think your life as something not connected with common matters, more like aesthetic experimentation. Of course, "Every man is a plastic artist...", but I believe in the autonomy of art. Usually artists operate with lifestyles more freely and avoid following ready-to-use life patterns.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?
My current project Millennials Alchemy haven't been finished yet, so I am going to show it as a whole project. But I don't like to say about plans. My belief in the so called art scene was so strong that for years I functioned only inside of it. And when I began to show this project through Instagram and on my site, it opened new era for me, with some new opportunities. I am confused, but curious, what will the future look like?
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Find more at victoriamarchenkova.com!