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Absolute Installation

Maria Serebriakova

Maria Serebriakova is one of the few Russian contemporary artists represented in the museum’s collection. Her architectonic installation "Untitled" was purchased in 1993. Serebriankova belongs to the generation that came after Russian-American artist Ilya Kabakov and gained international attention in the wake of the thaw in the Eastern Bloc and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

© Maria Serebriakova, Untitled, installation

Viewing Serebriakova’s installation for the first time can be unsettling. Stacking tall pillars on commonplace chairs seems both absurd and tangible, unreal and concrete. The pillars signify in themselves strength and solidity, but the effect is quite the opposite when they are placed on the small, literally “oppressed” chairs.

The relationship between the chair and the pillar is supplemented by the relationship between the two compound objects. It is as if we are witnessing a kind of encounter, albeit not a particularly constructive encounter – given the objects’ close proximity to each other, it seems more like a confrontation than a dialogue.

The installation can be read politically. The two chairs, a kind of readymade, have number plates on their backs and look as though they came right out of a Soviet-era assembly hall. They emerge as symbols of reality and everyday life. The pillars, enormous, reaching the full height of the room, can on the other hand point in the direction of an authoritarian architecture. In this constellation a new object is created, one that is surrealistic in terms of its formal character. It depicts the absurd situation that arises when an architectural superstructure no longer has a foundation.

Maria Serebriakova was born in 1965 in Moscow. She lives and works in Berlin.


Andrea Kroksnes / Audun Eckhoff