Starie Novosti (Old Nouvelles)
Anastasia Khoroshilova’s installation Starie Novosti (Old News) is currently to be seen in Venice at the historic Zenobiana Library, built in 1777 by Tommaso del Temanza. In stark contrast to the fresco painted in subdued pastel colours on the ceiling of the plush loggia, you find nine photo light boxes (100 x 80 x 15 cm) formally reminiscent of both skyscraper architecture and military or expedition cases. Moreover, the international designations visible on them give the works “obviously” brought and deposited here the transport character of a temporary temporality.
“Russkie. Über ein Projekt von Anastasia Khoroshilova”, 2008
Eine alte Frau sitzt auf einem einfachen Bettgestell vor ihrem Haus im Schatten eines Baumes. Ihre Haltung ist statuarisch, die Hände ruhen behutsam aber entschieden auf ihren Beinen, der Blick ist mit ernster Ruhe in die Kamera gerichtet. Die alte Frau strahlt vor allem eines aus: Würde – die Würde ihrer eigenen Erscheinung. Man ist sofort eingenommen von ihrem Charisma und einer eigentümlichen Autorität, die sich nicht aus der Repräsentanz einer gesellschaftlichen Funktion, geschweige denn aus Geld und Macht, sondern einzig aus ihrer in einem langen Leben gereiften Persönlichkeit übermittelt.
“Anastasia Khoroshilova. The beyond-this-World everyday”, 2010
Anastasia Khoroshilova’s cycles of works weave into a garland around one theme: her interest in people. In people themselves. In their faces. In their bodies. In the homes in which they live. In the environment of their habitation that they have created. In landscapes, in the large emptiness of which signs of the presence of man nevertheless remain. Like a forester, walking through the depths of a forest, reading the signs of the presence of an animal, broken branches, trampled grass, tracks, unnoticeable to the unfamiliar eye. Khoroshilova’s interest in people is so calm and unhurried that she has time to look attentively (thoughtfully – as it was done in classical Russian texts) at the whole person, even has time to wonder at his quaintness and uniqueness. Judging by her photographs, any person is worth noticing. Because he is human. For a long time such attention was considered a sign of humanism. But perhaps also a sign of learning. Because when looking at the individual attentively, one can see in him his fate, that connection between the personal and the typical, which makes all of us claimants to a place in History. What remains is the coming of the one who will write everybody into a big book.
“Auf Augenhöhe”, 2008
Anastasia Khoroshilova begegnet den Menschen, Dingen und Landschaften in ihren Fotografien auf Augenhöhe. Nie greift sie zu ungewöhnlichen Perspektiven, fotografiert von oben oder von unten. Die Menschen stehen ihr und der Kamera gegenüber, schauen fast immer in die Kamera. Sie haben sich in Pose gesetzt oder gestellt, wirken aber nicht verkrampft; man spürt, das zwischen Künstlerin und den Abgebildeten Vertrauen herrscht.
“Anastasia Khoroshilova: Eine Pilgerschaft in das Land der lokalen Räume”, 2008
Anastasia Khoroshilova’s vision as a photographer is characterised by the immediacy of her creative path. This path is indivisible from her personal life, from the drama of her biography, which is connected to the sociocultural “wanderings” of the artist. Anastasia Khoroshilova is in a state of constant movement; she is always “watching”, translating the visual into a unique diary of reflections. Her “armed eye” however does not merely fix its own focus on the reality before it – rather, reality itself stares into her camera, “spilling” the expanse over the artist and penetrating her sight.
”The Existential Anthropology of Anastasia Khoroshilova”, 2008
This text, as the title suggests, proceeds on the assumption that the creative work of Anastasia Khoroshilova is deliberately the field work of a social anthropologist. All her work to date is devoted to the study of human beings in their real physical settings and as members, by force of social circumstance or geography, of a communality of some sort. Such are the ballet students of the dormitories of “Islanders” (20022005), the isolated country people of “Bezhin Lug” (20042005)1 and the similarly isolated residents of an outlying Russian city (“Baltiysk”, 2005) and so are the members of the macrocommunity, the nation (“Russkiye” 20062007). In her newest work, “Uzkii Krug” (“The Narrow Circle”), Khoroshilova turns to a community bound by shared beliefs and the confessional solidarity. Social anthropology, it may be remembered, established itself as an independent discipline in the analysi
“Five Stories, a project by Anastasia Khoroshilova”, 2007
“To Find the Key That Fits”, 2006
Let me declare at the outset that the photography of Anastasia Khoroshilova at first left me at a loss for words, but not for the usual reason of having to come to terms with a puzzle of conceptualized and peculiarly personal images. Rather, Khoroshilova’s images are clear and attractive, their “doors flung wide,” in the Russian poet’s phrase. The reason for my hesitation lay elsewhere. Indeed, strictly speaking, it lay in me, in the difficulty of finding an adequate language of description. I have long been unhappy with the state of affairs in this area. The descriptive language of modern photography took shape in the 1960s and has hardened in place ever since. Any writer today who ventures out without the shield of a philosophical or semiotical citation from Barthes (or Benjamin or Sontag or one of their ilk) must feel himself to be walking naked among wolves. As for photographers themselves (the advanced ones, of course, those most at home in the context of strategies of significance), it is unthinkable to imagine them even picking up a camera without also carrying along a copy of Barthes’ “Camera Lucida.” In short, modern photography is now entirely enlisted in the service of semiotics, social criticism and psychoanalysis (a service that has its rewards: the more open the photographer to interdisciplinary commentary, the more likely that he becomes “important”).
“Vis a vis mit den Islanders”, 2006
In the early 90es when the Soviet Union was disintegrating, Anastasia Khoroshilova was a teenager. It was at that time, that she decided to devote herself to photography an move to Germany to study and to begin a career as an artist.
“Nastia Khoroshilova: Figur im Interieur”, 2003
Das schöpferische Debüt Nastia Khoroshilovas ist von großem künstlerischen, aber auch sozialen und psychologischen Interesse. Sie ist Vertreterin einer ganz neuen Generation russischer Künstler, deren Persönlichkeit und künstlerische Identität sich schon in der postsowjetischen Zeit ausbildete. Und so möchte man auch in ihren ersten schöpferischen Aussagen die Merkmale einer neuen Gedanken und Gefühlswelt entdecken, die Anzeichen einer neuen Epoche spüren.
“The Russia That We Have Not Lost”
“Performing the documentary”
For her project “Trees” (2009), Anastasia Khoroshilova invited drama students from the “Special art school for people with restricted physical abilities” in Moscow, asking them to improvise on the theme of “tree” in urban spaces. Their gestural mastery, finesse and expressiveness were then documented by the artist in well-framed, attentive-to-composition shots, her camera being interested in portraying the students as much as in their performances.
Anastasia Khoroshilova based her new project on her own photographic pictures of Russian soldiers demonstrating hand-to-hand combat techniques. There are five separate images and two large triptychs. Objective filming style, natural light and colour, a tactfully unassuming title. The project is free both from pacifistically critical and neo-imperial overtones. It has its own pathos, to be sure, but of a different kind.
“Baltiysk, 2005”, Artist statement
Ich zeigte meinen Pass und passierte den »KPP«1, die Schranke ging auf, und ich befand mich an einem Ort, an dem europäische Geschichte geschrieben wurde. Ich besuchte die Stadt Baltijsk (ehemals Pillau) mehrmals im Jahr 2005.2 Das militärische Sonderverwaltungsgebiet ist der Hauptstützpunkt der Baltischen Flotte in Russland. Baltijsk war erst seit ein paar Jahren für die russischen Bürger zugänglich. Als Ausländer braucht man eine Sondergenehmigung. Die Mehrzahl der Stadtbewohner sind Offiziere und Berufssoldaten, ihre Familien und Wehrpflichtige, die in dem Flottenstützpunkt ihren Dienst verrichten. Seit dem Zerfall der Sowjetunion ist das nördliche Ostpreußen zu einer Enklave Russlands zwischen den neuen EU-Ländern geworden. Es sind circa 600 Kilometer bis zur nächsten russischen Grenze.
People Without a Territory (Human without a space), Artist statement
Immigrant workers in Russia live in a world all their own, by which I mean in veritable “enclaves of the non-existent.” Their civil rights are regulated by laws, yet these juridical definitions are merely of a declarative nature and offer no de facto protection to the people in question.
”Trees”, 2009, Artist statement
The tree is one of the most original elements of the visual culture, which stand for the basic, binary meanings: life and death, heaven and earth.
These meanings do not dissolve over the course of time; rather they endure as obvious or ambiguous messages, which transform with every passing minute, independent of time and cultural context. This refers to the visualized forms.
To Find the Key That Fits (2006)
Alexander Borovsky / Head of the Department of Contemporary Art, The State Russian Museum / St. Petersburg
Let me declare at the outset that the photography of Anastasia Khoroshilova at first left me at a loss for words, but not for the usual reason of having to come to terms with a puzzle of conceptualized and peculiarly personal images. Rather, Khoroshilova’s images are clear and attractive, their “doors flung wide,” in the Russian poet’s phrase. The reason for my hesitation lay elsewhere. Indeed, strictly speaking, it lay in me, in the difficulty of finding an adequate language of description. I have long been unhappy with the state of affairs in this area.