2016 — Part of “Fathers & sons” Project, Museum and Exhibition association “Manege”, Central Manege, Moscow.

Numbers marched past me, row on row...
 And only I was alone, cast out by a storm on a desert island, seeking, seeking with my eyes among the grey-blue waves.

— Yevgeny Zamyatin «We» (1920)

Bliss reigns supreme in the palaces of the One State in the «Fragile Island». How do we imagine our ideal refuge? Our own island under palm trees, in an ocean of calm, where time flows smoothly? Could a man in the here and now remain alone with himself?

Tanya Akhmetgalieva, 1988

When I was still a child, I imagined an island as a small piece of land, akin to a bump, surrounded by endless water. It might be absolutely empty, or one or two palm trees might be standing on the island. There was only enough space for one person. I feel as I am still living on that island to this very day...

— Tanya Akhmetgalieva

The exhibition includes a child’s drawing on which the five-year old Tanya not only depicted her dream, but also articulated her position as an artist — amidst the “bubbling waters” of public opinion.

After graduating from the Stieglitz Art and Industry Academy and becoming an independent artist, Tatyana Akhmetgalieva let herself oat freely, without losing the sensation of being all alone on the same small island with a palm tree or two.

Many sides of the artist’s personal worldview have been embodied in the Fragile Island project. At the same time, the project touches on the social and cultural aspects of modern life.

2015, Fragile Island.

Two-channel video installation.
Sound — Viktor Mazin,
 2’48’’ and 3’19’’.

In the building of Saint Petersburg State University — the prototype of the System — we find ourselves in a panopticon of knowledge, on an island with lonely palm trees grown in the hothouse conditions of the systemic institution. In the external world, beyond the walls of the mathematical-mechanical institute, we encounter indifferent individuals.

One gets the feeling they are huddling up to each other. A mechanical audio recording created specially for the exhibition by the philosopher and psychoanalyst Viktor Mazin immerses us in the boundless spaces of memory and the search for the authentic…

, Heavenly Lake.
Video installation.
Sound — Viktor Mazin, 5’31’’.

However, in the year 35 — before the founding of the One State — our present food, a petroleum product, was developed. True, only 0.2 of the earth’s population survived. But, cleansed of its millennial filth, how radiant the face of the earth has become! And those two- tenths survived to taste the heights of bliss in the shining palace of the One State.

— Yevgeny Zamyatin «We» (1920)

«Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!» sang the pop group Aqua. However, a purely physical perception of this  «life in plastic» is impossible. Our natural desire to be implicated with it is prevented by the saturated acidic colours of the objects.

Immersed in the «Heavenly Lake» with the plastic  «petroleum food», each spectator finds his or her own little island where he/she seeks refuge from the boiling waters.

On the island of freedom, bad luck, salvation or even cut-off from the mainland, where each of us seeks refuge from the boiling waters…

— Victor Mazin, Trialog

2015, Polar Coordinates.

Two-channel video installation.
Sound — Viktor Mazin, 5’07’’.

Sunflowers stand, as if they were people, and look at the sun, wait for something...

— Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Trialog.

Among the «Polar Coordinates» — hot and cold, crowds and emptiness, sunset and dawn, life and death — an unearthly radiance shines down on us.

2015, Disappearing Staircases.
Video, 4’28’’.

When I was a child, I was afraid of clouds. I felt as if our house had simply own off into space.
I found this viscous and white infinity all around intimidating due to its emptiness... Years later I can still see my house in the dream, I am running, I am trying to get inside, get into my room, but the staircases have already disappeared...

— Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Trialog.

In the playhouse on the seashore we meet young Tanya again and again with images from her childhood, we once again return to the island in our memories. The external world, with all its coarseness and cruelty, once again emphasises and accentuates the fragility of our inner world. The boundaries of all concepts are eroded and the waves erase the outlines of our internal integrity. It is only after we have protected our own tiny island within ourselves that we continue to fantasise about the bliss in the palaces of the One State.

2015, White Daisy.
Sound — Viktor Mazin, 4’40’’.

Tonight I will go out to the field, where the flowers blossom everywhere.
Among the dark bluebottle where my love lives.
The white daisy, with its tender petals
Is dearer to me than all other flowers, for it is my love.
Oh the white daisy, with its tender petals

Is dearer to me than all other flowers, for it is my love.
I pick a bouquet of flowers; there are no daisies. I will pluck only one and press it to my breast...

— Song White Daisy. Author Mikhail Mikhailov.

What is this imagined reality about, referring to grannies-flowers dancing to the strains of a harmonica and magical porcelain girls on a small island? This is an elusive, fleeing moment and the hope inextricably linked both the present and the future.

It is all about the white daisy, with its tender petals, and my love…

Is that “Yes”, meaning “Yes”? Or “Yes” meaning “No”?

— From the Film Walking the Streets of Moscow, director Georgiy Daneliya.

All the works displayed at the exhibition are linked by glittering colours, images and words, which spill over and overflow, similar to holographic paper. In each work there is a conflict between what is plastic and what is alive, the real and the imaginary. This is a project about the eternal search for happiness, about harmony and disturbance, about memory and forgetfulness, about hope and loss, about the «we» in each of us.

Author of the text and curator — Elena Yushina.
Sound — Victor Mazin.
Photos — Dmitry Shishkin.
The exhibition was supported by Triumph Gallery, Media Art Lab and MEA Manege.

tanya akhmetgalieva
tanya akhmetgalieva