INVERSO MUNDUS: Mythopoeia In Inversion
Commonly referred to as the hipster capital of Eastern Europe, Bucharest is rapidly getting the reputation of a number one destination for independent artists and art-lovers. The abundance of contemporary art galleries and independent artists’ studios open for walk-ins might be among the things to consider while planning one of your weekend trips there.
Mobius Gallery, located right in the heart of Bucharest, became the first gallery ever in Romania to open its doors at the end of September to AES+F, a group of four Russian artists (Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes), who presented their recent project “Inverso Mundus.”
AES+F, whose first exhibition took place in Boston in 1989, are well-known for their unique style of portraying the realms of the world in a striking manner. “Russian art during the Soviet time was never underground or contemporary,” Arzamasova said. The dissolution of the country gave them a strong impetus to create. “It was a pleasure to be a no one from nowhere,” she added. This sense of being independent artists allowed them to create their own genre —telling a story through photography, paintings, sculptures, and architecture brought to life with the use of digital technology.
“Who wants to live forever…” (1998) and “Defile” (2000-2007) are projects that touch upon issues such as death, the role of fashion and media industries in a modern world. In the former they portray an animated corpse, closely resembling Princess Diana, and corpses of real unidentified people, dressed in high fashion couture, in the latter. Both projects were inspired by the atmosphere of the time, the deaths of the artists’ closest friends, the media’s role in the tragic death of Princess Diana, and the rise of fashion trends. “We wanted to combine the death that lasts forever and fashion trends that are just like butterflies — two sisters: death and fashion,” Tatiana elaborated.
“Islamic project” (1996 – 2003) would be a banality these days, when the clash of the Western and Eastern worlds is making its way to the top news, but back then, AES+F’s exhibition featuring famous landmarks from around the globe turned into mosques was an unfamiliar topic for the Art society. The artists’ intention was to have their own word on globalization: “Globalization is not the expansion of McDonalds, it is rather Islam arriving into the Western culture,” Lev said.
Inverso Mundus (2015) is another attempt of the artists to send a message to their audience, “We already live in the world up-side-down. What is shown is more or less normal for our society.” The rich and wealthy rule the poor who are forced to do all the dirty work. Then the revolution takes place: the beggars come to the rich and overtake the power. The shift in leadership occurs without a single fight, the former masters just leave and immerse themselves into the realms of the homeless life. One might say this contradicts the usual course of history. AES+F said that it stands for the fact that the rich, deeply inside, feel guilty for the inequality and incapability to resolve the situation with the gap between the poor and wealthy despite all the technological advances and the growing quality of life.
After the roles were exchanged, the wealthy are shown to be given money by the poor. Can it inflect on stories of the politicians spending taxpayers’ money on the commodities that are far from being modest? Is there a parallel between the portrayed fist fight of seniors with children and today’s global trend towards replacing time-worn visions and beliefs with avant-garde ideas? These are the questions AES+F tries to answer.
However bloodless the revolution is, there is always some form of violence going on. It seems to be inevitable in any society. Referring to the darkest pages of the history of Europe, Inverso Mundus captures the scene where males are being executed by women. The artists share that the original idea behind the scene with executions wasn’t just to point out the gender inequality that is still present in the society today. The decorations, they say, were made of IKEA furniture and the objective was to show that much of the gender inequality can be found in the form of domestic violence at home.
Nevertheless, there is something that the AES+F’s world shares with today’s one. Any revolution, peaceful or bloody, results in the vacuum of power. Albeit the noble idea of power being returned to the people, the control is being taken by the military that, instead of securing the rule of law and justice, is sharing its pedestal with the group of marauders.
Hence, AES+F conveys the following message: those in power are selfish, corrupt and greedy not because of the people’s unwillingness to fight them, but because that is simply the reality of today’s world; therefore, the cause should be found within the very nature of the people themselves.
AES+F’s inversion of the physical, social and political realities of today are captivating. It leaves the audience with mixed feelings. Through metaphors the artists convey their message — “Inverso Mundus is a world where chimeras are pets and an Apocalypse is entertainment.” Portrayed realities of social utopia might seem absurd, but after taking a closer look you get struck by a sudden illumination — Inverso Mundus is a shadow, a shady reflection of our society that in its vertiginous pursuit of happiness consigns to oblivion the joy of simply being a human.