Stella Art Foundation presents a project by one of Moscow’s leading contemporary artists, Sergei Shekhovtsov, under the title “Straight Through”. This exhibition of sculptural objects on a military/household theme might be associated with the Ukrainian events of last summer, but does not in fact have any direct connection with them — the exhibition was conceived in the spring. But, of course, Shekhovtsov’s exhibition is about war. It is about war,which runs like a broken line through our life, which is suspended in our everyday reality, from children playing soldiers in the yard to computer shoot-‘em-ups, radio, television, cinema and the internet. You don’t have to be called up to find yourself on that battlefield — the military adventure is right there waiting for you on the sofa at home. It permeates contemporary pop culture, reality and virtuality. And familiar things are only dear to us because they have learned to hide their second face, their inborn “military look”.
All this is contained in the title of the project. “Straight through” refers particularly to the main and largest object in the exhibition, with a bold summons to drive on upwards into the sky. But ‘Straight through’ also has a passive sense — “done to”, not “doing” — when it refers to a wound that brings complete and final defeat.
Sergei Shekhovtsov is a past master at detecting the ambiguities, which make up our lives. He has been doing it from the outset of his artistic career, when he first had “a sense of the world as a soft, amorphous, deceptive substance”. Hence the choice of foam rubber as his favoured working material — a humble, workaday, unartistic substance, but endowed with limitless imitative ability: “You can make a whole world out of it, use it in any manner of ways. It even has its own philosophy. But there came a time when that ceased to matter and I started to conceal the material — it can take on the appearance of plaster or plastic, you can play any tricks with it.” And he is absolutely right: what is primary is not the material, but the reality, which, according to Shekhovtsov, is no more than packaging for something else, which, perhaps, does not exist at all.
Sergei Shekhovtsov (born in 1969 in Salsk, Russia). Graduated from the Surikov Academy of Art in Moscow (1996). Lives and works in Moscow. Shekhovtsov has taken part in exhibitions in Russia and abroad: Za Czerwonym Horyzontem. Zamek Ujazdowski (Warsaw, 2004); 26th Bienal de Sao Paulo. Ciccillio Matarazzo Pavilion (Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2004); BRussia. Europalia 2005 (Royal Park, Brussels, 2005); Russian Pop-Art (State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2005); Russia Miami 2007. Miami Design District (Miami, USA, 2007); I Believe! (Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow, 2007); Movement. Evolution. Art (Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow, 2007); The Future Depends on You (Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, 2007); Person, Image, Time (Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow, 2009); 53rd Venice Biennale. Russian Pavilion (2009); Russian Povera. 3rd Moscow Biennale (Moscow, 2009); La Leçon de l'Histoire (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2010); Car Culture. ZKM (Karlsruhe, Germany, 2011); Weightlessness. 5th Moscow Biennale, special project (Moscow, 2013); Post Pop: East Meets West (Saatchi Gallery, London, 2014). The artist has also held solo exhibitions: Ephemeral Art (State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2004); Short Installation (Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow, 2013); and numerous exhibitions at the Regina Gallery and the XL Gallery (Moscow).