This Perm artist duo works with diverse materials, often creating large-scale installations adapted to non-standard exhibition spaces. Textile, wood, embroidery, traditional painting and drawing, and ready-mades are placed within complex spatial arrangements, immersing the viewer in the slow- paced world of simple things, childhood memories, and chance intimate impressions. The artists skillfully work with the archaic imagery of Perm’s religious wooden sculptures and Russian icons, incorporating contrasting “urban” surfaces into their projects in order to distribute the energy of honest manual labor throughout the surrounding reality. Especially for the Triennial, Subbotina and Pavlukevich have made a project based on their large-scale work Salutary Emptiness (2012–2014). The artists state that the material out of which the objects are made is extremely important for this project. They describe it as “coarse calico that has been repeatedly treated and washed until it acquired the right shade of white, and then left in its natural non-ironed state.” The title finds inspiration in statements by the pioneering Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857–1935), who asserted that space “resembles a most kind and rational animal” and that “no atom of the Universe shall be devoid of the sensation of supreme rational life.” In creating a constellation of various objects, the artists outline an image of vague memories, dreams about the future, and utopian expectations of a better world that constitute one of the most productive artistic myths of recent times: the myth of Russian cosmism.
Olga Subbotina (b. 1957, Perm, Russia) lives and works in Perm. She graduated from the Stroganov Moscow State University of Arts and Industry in 1988. Mikhail Pavlukevich (b. 1949, Perm, Russia) lives and works in Perm. He graduated from Perm Polytechnic Institute in 1971 and the V.I. Mukhina Leningrad Higher School of Art and Industry in 1979. He is an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation. Solo exhibitions include: Low Clouds, Gridchinhall, Moscow (2016); Chronicle of Movement, Perm Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm (2014); Salutary Emptiness, Museum of Folk and Decorative Art, Tula (2014); and Expedition, The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg (2010). Group exhibitions include: Materia Prima: L’arte povera in Russia, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, (2016); Form of the Invisible, Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); Promised Landscape, Perm Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm (2015); Invisible Forces, Perm Museum of Contemporary Art, Perm (2012); Un(conditional) Reality: New Art from Perm, Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg (2012); and Art against Geography: Cultural Alliance, Winzavod Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow (2011).