For Evgeny Antufiev’s debut project in the UK, the Russian artist will construct a self-contained presentation separated from the fair aisles by a cardboard creature’s face, whose mouth serves as the entryway into the booth. Once inside, the viewer encounters a myriad of objects made of metal, wood, ceramics, textile, and bone, mounted on the walls and cautiously positioned across a series of plinths. A raffle-ticket drum stands behind a central resting figure, encouraging viewer participation in a game of ‘Lucky Draw’ where everybody is a winner.
The artist carves wood, boils bones, and stuffs and embroiders traditional Russian fabrics to supplement found curiosities and deposits of kitsch. Deeply invested in the cultural particularity and symbolic significance of materials, Antufiev’s accumulations feel both prehistoric and personal: forms abandon their material functions and fantastical narratives are spun around objects that escape categorization or correlation. These displays of oddities veer between persiflage and mania, recalling the shamanic mysticism still vital in Southern Siberia, only to sever these ties and open up an alternate reality altogether. Hand-crafted items are experienced in an atmosphere of jovial theatricality, where a trivial game of luck results in a form of entertainment not fully understood.
The relationship between raffle-tickets, vessels, knives, and masks is obfuscated by temporal ambiguity: timeless and dated at once, these archetypal forms construct new chronologies that resist a linear logic. Created specifically for Frieze, Antufiev’s tomb of curiosities tests its viewers to question authoritative imagery and materiality outside of the ex-Soviet context.
Evgeny Antufiev (b. 1986 in Kyzyl, Russia) lives and works in Moscow, Russia. He graduated with a BA from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Moscow in 2009, winning the Kandinsky Prize for the Young Artist: Project of the Year during his studies. Upcoming exhibitions include: Organic resistance: body and knife – crossing the border, MOSTYN Museum (Llandudno, UK. November 2017); and With a copper mask in one hand and a vase full of secrets in the other, my body will rest in a sarcophagus, guarded by twelve specially trained monsters, Emalin (London, UK. November 2017). Selected exhibitions include Immortality Forever, M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (Antwerp, Belgium. 2017); Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art, Garage (Moscow, Russia. 2017); Cabaret Kultura, with V-A-C Live, performance at Whitechapel Gallery (London, UK. 2017); Eternal garden, Manifesta 11 (Zurich, Switzerland. 2016); Twelve, wood, dolphin, knife, bowl, mask, crystal, bones and marble – fusion. Exploring materials, Collezione Maramotti (Reggio Emilia, Italy. 2013); Garden of Eden, Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France. 2012); Ostalgia, New Museum (New York, USA. 2011).