• Sophie Olympia

What caught my eye: Zhanna Kadyrova with Voloshyn Gallery at PULSE Miami Beach

Updated: Mar 17, 2019

Although I like to imagine I have a clear image of the work that I'm attracted to, I rarely know what will be the most eye-catching or memorable work in a given exhibition. When you extend that to an art fair, there's definitely no planning ahead! Ask anyone I've ever done the fair circuit with, and they'll tell you that I'm bordering on maniacal when it comes to making sure I see (almost) everything. That's because I can't possibly know what's out there, what people are creating, how people are talking about it, unless I've seen it all; the good, the bad, and everything in between.

So this year, when I made my way into the South Tent at PULSE, I had no way of knowing I would stumble upon a booth in the SOLO section that would make me pause, engage, leave, and come back; one that I'd still be thinking hard about all these weeks later.

Zhanna Kadyrova's beautiful, enjoyable, reflective booth was a real gem. It is no wonder she won the PULSE Prize. The central point of the exhibit was the Market Performance.

Zhanna Kadyrova "Market Performance" 2018 at PULSE Miami Beach

The market performance - where Kadyrova stood inside of the stall she had created to showcase her wares, in a recognizable market format - was fascinating. The sculptural work itself was beautiful, but it was the premise that made it so memorable. In inviting members of the public to buy the art objects at a cost by weight, the underlying socioeconomic message was undeniable. Additionally, Kadyrova told me that in each location where the stall is erected, the cost is changed to reflect the local currency. The exchange value stays the same (1=1), but the real value changes.

At first, I was drawn to the booth solely because it so clearly set itself apart. As I drew closer, I could see the sculptural produce, and immediately wanted to engage with Kadyrova herself. What a brilliant concept! And what a beautiful way to represent it. To me, the weight of the work, and the differential pricing, was such a powerful reminder of the true cost of our food. Labor, transport, processing... all of these things add weight to our food that we typically ignore. These play into larger societal dilemmas that priviledge protect us from. Kadyrova herself builds these interactive (and often site-specific) installations at the crossroads of the dependency on the outer environment and social context.

BUT... For all the wonder that the Market series and performance provided, the true winner of the booth were Kadyrova's Second Hand works on the back wall, behind the market stall.

What first drew me in was the dress made of tiles. As I explored the accompanying photographs, it became clear that the "clothes" were made from the tiles at the sites where they were shown. I have never traveled to Ukraine, but what I have seen of Eastern Europe, and from images and stories shared with me through various channels, I was stunned by this tender treatment of these abandoned public spaces. I imagine the lives and memories of the fantastical wearers of these tile garments, plucked from their very surroundings. Who enjoyed these spaces? Why were they allowed to become derelict? Who would benefit from their continued existence? How might they be re-imagined to benefit others in the future?

So there you have it. Did you see this booth during #PulseMiamiBeach2018? What did you think of it? Whether you did or didn't, what do you think of my appraisal? And lastly, what if anything of what I shared here would you be interested in? Personally, I'm in for a dress-and-photograph combo.

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