Stella Art Foundation presents Refrain, a project by Irina Korina. The refrain is what repeats unchanged, what the artist calls a “a trapped scheme”, redolent of folk formulas and collective archetypes. The artist distinguishes camouflaged static formulas in the apparent superficial chaos of change.
Her project creates a dense exhibition environment, consisting mainly of large dynamic objects in which something turns, revolves, flaps, rises up and settles back, imparting a sense of contagious, emotional meaninglessness. The emotion fails to mask a certain inadequacy, a secret that is not meant to be imparted: that of the hopelessly faded fabric of the beach-café parasol, which only yesterday was so pleasing to the eye, or the depressing bureaucratism of a summerhouse built from office furniture, which pretends to be a carousel, agitating its multicoloured drapery with a forced nonchalance, while a glance inside reveals something utterly absurd and repulsive.
Irina Korina : “What is the place we have come to, where are we? We hear a bewitching song. There is a storm in the song that isn’t real, but seems to be real. And a senseless, utopian hope appears that everything could change... But at the same time this is repetitive mechanical action, already known, like a refrain that repeats again and again in a effort to soothe us, where everything new is really old. It is like the evident wretchedness and ennui of seaside-resort trappings, which still retain something indefinable, an attractiveness that can’t be explained, that can never be penetrated — promises of events to come, which we know all about in advance and which can be seen as if they were already past. This hypnotizes me.”
Irina Korina uses ready-made materials and consumer goods as a painter uses paint. But for Korina they are “paint that thinks” — not just matter, but a complex of different ingredients, a hybrid assembly. Sewn into its physical consistency there is memory, psychical substance and the spirit of time. Used with skill (as Korina uses it) all of this unpacks wonderfully, enabling the artist to temper the emotional range of the work down to the finest details, and to create the most complex combinations of meaning.
Irina Korina was born in Moscow in 1977. She graduated from the Faculty of Stage Design at the Russian Academy of Theatre Art (GITIS) and also completed the “New Artistic Strategies” contemporary art course at the Moscow Institute of Contemporary Art. She has studied at the Valand Academy of Fine Arts in Gothenburg (Sweden) and the Academy of Arts in Vienna (Austria). Her work has been much exhibited since 2000. She was a prize winner in 2006, 2009 and 2012 at Russia’s Soratnik Annual Professional Awards for Contemporary Art. In 2008, she won the Innovation State Prize for Contemporary Art.