Mark Barker

Sinaida Michalskaja, born 1985 in Moscow, Russia, lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Selected recent exhibitions include: The Place I Once Called Home (g), Breiterhof, Munich, 2020, Zwei Schwestern (with Andrey Bogush), Zarinbal Khoshbakht, Cologne, 2020, Ici et là-bas (g), Goethe-Institut Paris, 2019, Zuhause (g), Kunstmuseum Bochum, 2019, and Soft Hits (s), Kunstraum Ortloff, Leipzig, 2019. Michalskaja was Meisterschülerin of Peter Piller and Heidi Specker at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, and holds an MA in Photography from Central Saint Martins, London, and a BA in Communication Design from the University of Applied Sciences, Düsseldorf.

Zarinbal Khoshbakht is delighted to present Sinaida Michalskaja’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.

In mixed feelings breaking patterns, Michalskaja makes extensive use of the Bundeswehr’s five-colour disruptive camouflage pattern, the Fünffarbflecktarn; whether disfigured or reworked, the material variously serves as both adornment and disguise.

As Michalskaja’s practice emphasises and reshapes opposites as possible misconstructions of the cultured mind, so the works included in this exhibition bring these opposites closer together, allowing them to unfold through new connections, affirmation and rejection.

Swing (Die Gedanken sind frei solange man sie nicht erraten kann*), 2020, sees a playground swing set up in the exhibition space. The piece not only speaks to the desire to let go without intending to, but also to the apparent – and yet practically resolvable – paradox of motion without movement. In doing so, it mobilises the visitor’s gaze while addressing the bodily condition of perception and the observer’s ‘viewing point’: a narrow space jumping in for boundless freedom.

The floor work Tell me I belong (carpet), 2020, decomposes the Fünffarbflecktarn’s ‘pattern’ by proliferating its black shapes in circular arrangements across the fabric. Rhinestones – whose name originates in the fact that they were initially rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine – adorn the work’s black surfaces, striking the eye as sparkling stars, pathways, eyes, holes. The Flecktarn’s abstract representation of nature therefore drifts off into the figurative, into a perception of varied forms, before unfastening itself again as abstraction and abundance.

The video work Light show (24.06.2020, Berlin), 2020 shows how glistening light breaks into a room, tracing lines and fragile forms. The shimmering brightness is exhibited as engineered representation of light, in a space distorted by media(-ted) reformatting. In Pole for Paul (Schließe die Augen, ich bin eine Landschaft für dich**), 2020 the Flecktarn provides the uniform for a bastardised object, leading to a crossover between frame and device. The two slide viewers appear to be observing us, and yet they are merely displays of references – a pug in a tux from a movie, an educational image showing an arrow in space.

As part of the installation, Michalskaja also presents photographic works made in 2016, which expand on the themes of pattern-making, sequencing and embellishment in pictures. The photographs are from a group of images created over the course of 24 hours that reveal the fluid play of inside and outside, as changes in the light see interior and exterior worlds ebb and flow on a windowpane.

Translation of titles:

* Thoughts are free so long as no one can guess them

** Close your eyes, I am a landscape for you

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