Take over (action)

2016

 I will be kind to them; I will give them crutches and artificial limbs. Rusted metal does not slide over concrete; wooden wheels don’t turn around fast. I will ask them to smile, and we will take a photo as a keepsake.

 

The Takeover is a hard-won answer to the questions preoccupying the artist:

– how can you hold onto vestiges of internal, if not external freedom, if every single day it’s being “squeezed out of you like toothpaste out of a tube”?

– how can a person survive in the world of immense pressure of power against the backdrop of cruel undeclared hybrid warfare?

–  is there a place for art in a world like that?

–  how does that kind of art look like?

Humans are helpless in the face of overwhelming power, all aspects of their life controlled by the government. In Nikita Shalenny’s lab, this post-Nietzschean and post-Foucauldian formula gets an unexpected twist and a unique form. The former Soviet countries are affected by a government Stockholm syndrome that does not let people curb the lawlessness of the authorities, which leads to all kinds of dependencies, as well as to indifference and collaborationism.

Shalenny’s project radically differs from Atelier Van Lieshout’s “designed” dystopia or Paweł Althamer’s Almech—both created in far less dramatic circumstances—in that it researches the Stockholm syndrome as both a local, and a global symptom. Shalenny goes for a rare genre of dystopia in the form of reality itself. His project’s starting point is a performance at the artist’s studio and/or delegated performance in a specially equipped space.

The Takeover is a multi-stage lab researching the phenomenon of violence in an exposed, physiological form. At the Takeover Lab, the Lab Assistant’s aids “lose” one or more of their body parts for a brief period of time. Those body parts are immobilized by special concrete blocks. In exchange, the aids are offered “crutches and artificial limbs” as alternative means of living and moving around (see Project Description). At this lab, volunteer participants will be given a chance to test their own capacities of physical and psychological survival in a tough pre-designed environment. This trying experience can be voluntary or paid on a contractual basis, the rate depending on the duration and the difficulty of the test (which body part is being immobilized; the degree of nudity required, etc). If the experiment is paid, it will also research the takeover of a stranger’s body with the help of money as a leverage of power.

As a project in progress, The Takeover includes the following four stages taking place at the same time or in succession in one or more spaces:

  1. Performance for the camera without audience. The artist works with volunteers at his own studio.
  2. A delegated performance with audience at a large specially equipped space.
  3. Showing the live-stream of the performance taking place at the lab in one or more exhibition spaces.
  4. Exhibition of full project documentation with a follow-up discussion.

In The Takeover, Shalenny deliberately uses all kinds of media he’s been working with (installation, performance, video documentation, animation, objects, photography, watercolors, virtual reality). His goal is to make sure that the potential of these artistic means matches his project aims (see Statement).

The project can be scaled down and presented as one or more of the four stages described above.

Implementing The Takeover project across various geopolitical environments and  social strata, the artist will get a chance to do a large-scale artistic research of the phenomenon of violence in a laboratory setting.

Watercolors, paper.

Sizes: 30×40 cm.

Picture #1.

Picture #2.

Picture #4.

Picture #11.

 

Sketches.

Picture A, scene #1, #2, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture A, scene #3, #4, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture A, scene #5, #6, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture A, scene #7, #8, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture A, scene #9, #10, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture A, scene #11, #12, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture A, scene #13, #14, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture A, scene #15, #16, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #1, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #2, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #3, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #5, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #6, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #8, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #9, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #10, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #11, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #13, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #14, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #15, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture B, scene #16, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture C, paper, marker, 29х21 cm.

Picture D, paper, pencil, 30×40 cm.

Picture E, paper, pencil, 40×30 cm.

Picture F, paper, pencil, 40×30 cm.