Disappointment, 2018, by Simona Sharafudinov
There is always a door between you and the organised chaos by Simona Sharafudinov, this time resided at Exposed Arts Projects’ old garage. The door is transparent and operates simultaneously as an entrance, a protective border, and a screen. The door is secured by @god.herself, with her eyes of a sphinx scanning you, and deciding. You are a little soul, caring the corpse. Feel it. Face it. Walk your eyes in, and the rest will follow. The sign on the door reads equivocally: Danger of trip hazard. As you cautiously step in, the female performer with a microphone in the corner of the room is being more specific. “Mind the gap”, she chants; “mind the gap”, she instructs you; mind the gap — for there are quite a few opportunities for an unprepared spectator to trip over.
There is a gap between centuries, the past and the new. The gap between what we aspired to, and failed to achieve as a civilisation. To mark this gap, Sharafudinov used “Century”, the colossal volumewith 1,224 pages that align history and photography, offering an informative intimate insight into the twentieth century from its start to the end. The artist dismembered the book and covered the walls with its pages. Her gesture made it uncomfortably clear: among those key events, photographed to represent this slice of our past, there were only a few that involved a promise for a better future and hope; devoured by the mass of pain and human suffering depicted, these happened to be the most difficult if not impossible to find. Still, people in the room were trying.
Another one, more a delay than a gap, is between the witnesses and victims: a liquid encounter between the gazes of those locked in photographs on the walls, and those browsing them from the floor. During Sharafudinov’s performance, tiny cameras were installed in the room here and there, filming the audience as they inspected the photos. The real-time video stream was then projected on the wall as a friendly reminder: when another century fades, we will all end up in an image taken by some inhuman agent, so we better try and make a happy one — so the next “Century” feels less disappointing to look through.
Finally, there is a gap between Sharafudinov and her performers, that closes up for the duration of Disappointment. For a viewer, there is a lot of violence in Sharafudinov’s work to be confronted with; inevitably there are unscripted bruises on the bodies of performers (and the artist’s own) as they expose to hot wax, cold glass and rocky floors. At the same time, there is a sense of profound care for each other amongst them — routed in trust, knowledge and respect that takes time to develop. It is the kind of care that you may encounter in the tandem of ice-skaters, as they bond their delicate strong bodies, simultaneously subjecting to and securing each other from a deadly injury — day by day, on a regular basis, for the sake of ice-dancing. There would be no surplus meaning to their work — apart from the fulfilled potential of one’s body; the survival on the verge of failure and flight.
— Sasha Burkhanova-Khabadze, 2018.