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Event & Activity | Making Fools Pray to God
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2022.3.30[Artron] CAAC Gallery: Oxana Kovalchuk: "Make fools Pray to God." ....more

Loy Luo
24 March 2022

On March 10, 2022, The CAAC Gallery in Manhattan hosted the opening of artist Oxana Kovalchuk's solo exhibition entitled "Make fools Pray to God."

The paintings on display in the main hall borrow from the murals of the Orthodox Church in terms of size, theme, color and so on. The difference is that the painting adopts today's common flat, symbolic characteristics and collage techniques. The second is the installation transformation of the work: the colors of the two believers disappear in the main picture, leaving only the gray outline. On the outside of the main painting there is a self-contained humanoid installation whose body parts are brightly decorated apostles, but whose faces are hollowed out. People can put their faces in the hole to take pictures and play saints. Of course, the practice of pretending to be a saint is not new in itself. There are similar photo-taking games at historical sites around the world, but here the game is played in the context of the exhibition, as if the characters have just escaped from the painting.

Organized by the Japanese curator Kyoko Sato and the artist, the theater-like exhibition space seems a direct reference to the current global god making movement. In a small enclosed space in the gallery, several false "precious ICONS" are displayed: Gothic church stained-glass Windows placed in gothic style frames. The collage of fragments of new media (text, video, etc.) is backed by portraits of modern fashionistas such as Bill Gates, who look like medieval saints. Shiny, solemn and pretentious, these fake ICONS hang under a single spotlight against a black velvet background.

In the corner of the enclosed space, surrounded by black velvet, a large, broad-boned candle sits on a small table, hinting at an ancient compulsion to sacrifice. In fact, in our artistic field, in our political field, have we not borrowed this suggestive technique from religion to induce the urge to worship? The founders of religions provided long-term spiritual comfort to mankind with their rich and holistic philosophy, but it was their external idols and forms that enabled religions to develop greatly, especially by being accepted by the masses. It has to be said that cultural victories are often media victories.

When it comes to media, the details are filled with the artist's almost neurotic sensitivity to the power of contemporary media, a neurotic texture to the environment of our time. The artist argues that, on the one hand, the saints of the classical world were replaced by new ICONS and influencers who symbolized success and excellence; On the other hand, “in our time, not only do people create their idols, but it's also easier to incarnate themselves as idols."

Back in the gallery's main hall, looking at this face-changing game installation, the artist's intent is clear: it is the focal point of satire, and it relies on people as audience and actors at same time, with conscious or unconscious participation, to flatter each other in the rotation of the stage, to complete a kind of self-appointed saintly performance. People are not as shy about dressing up as saints as they used to be. People today are almost always the Kings of their own we-media communities or information cocoons, believing they are the real Kings.

Regarding the accumulation and questioning of media fragments presented in the work, the artist said she wanted to express her irresistible concern about the negative impact of media fragmentation on children's growth and education, especially the destruction of children's cognition caused by the creation of new media idols. But perhaps mothers and children are metaphors here, because exhibition titles like "Make Fools Pray to God" are the harshest criticisms of the audience's self-conscious obedience to idols.

In this eventful time, the artist inadvertently scattered the anxiety about truth and uncertainty caused by the public opinion war of idol endorsement into every corner of the exhibition. It is obviously different from the ethereal realm of detached spirit created by the gold decoration on the background of ancient orthodox frescoes. The artist left only a few pieces of broken gold film on the painting, hinting at the loss of spirit of the false ICONS in the exhibition.