Pets' Corner

Pets' Corner

Yevgenia Belorusets writes prose. She shoots on film as well. Both writing and photography evolve in dialogue and often around a common topic. They elicit as the parts of the same work. This “work”, being understood as a deal for life, focuses on a conversation with those who can’t be heard or seen. Therefore, photography, as well as text, fulfil the same socio-political function. But when it comes to final pieces of art, Yevgenia develops two distinctive artistic languages. And even the presence of both text and photo in the same space—at an exhibition or in a book—doesn’t create the effect of mutual explanation but rather acts in the opposite way.

“Pets’ Corner” at The Naked Room focuses on the photographic side of the Belorusets’ comprehensive and layered project about animals. The series was created during the artist’s research for her book “Modern Animal”, which is published in Russian by IST_Publishing and in English by isolarii. The book is conceived upon the co-existence of textual and visual. It follows a medieval genre of “island books”, navigational handbooks for sailors with the maps of various worldparts and descriptions of the territories’ history, myths, culture, climate etc. Likewise, Yevgenia’s book has a lot of voices, stories, genres, speech types, and pictures. Such deliberate multeity doesn’t interfere with the book’s integrity. No matter which of the heroes speaks, there’s always Yevgenia Belorusets’ own poetic voice behind it. Her work with the structures, language cliches, and wording them dashingly fascinates with its virtuosity every time. It is exactly this mastery that creates defamiliarisation from automatic reading and perceiving. 

The exhibition, on the contrary, is purposely silent. The title “Pets’ Corner” promises a cozy and safe space for communication with attractively non-human creatures. But the dsiplay rather reminds of children’s nightmares, in which the feeling of horror is quite concrete. And the image, which evokes it, stays abstract and unrecognisable. It isn’t a grey wolf or a brown bear, but a big amorphous “something”, or “nothing”. 

Determined to be the objects of human actions, descriptions, and studying, in Zhenya's photographs animals do not attempt to be exhibited. In the key sequence of the series, which was captured in “Farmland Nushanikovo. Birds rescue”, the birds are almost unable to be distinguished from the background. In Zhenya's hands, the camera as a disciplinary tool yields to the camera, as a creator of “technical images”. For Vilem Flusser photography, opposed to painting, drawing, text, does not “depict”, but only “visualises”, and thus remains superficial. But, at the same time, photography hides its superficialness through the apparent similarity of pictures to “real life”.  Zhenya, however, manifests the shallowness of photography through a series of filming and printing operations and lets animals just reflect the light––the same as does the wall behind them or the cage rods in front of them. A photo it’s a trace of a footprint, a footprint is a photo of a trace.