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Anna Jermolaewa

More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin wall, the dissolution of the East-West divide has brought about a new constellation of power relations with a legacy of shattered dreams and distorted views of past and present. Childhood memories and adult experiences have become like an incongruent puzzle which has to be put together in order to constitute the post-modern, post-colonial and post-socialist self in the wake of a newly emerging world order. A somewhat ironical and yet humorous approach to the psychological and physical depths of the individuals in our society, which in a Freudian sense emanate from early childhood experience, can be seen in the work of the St. Petersburg-born and Vienna-based artist Anna Jermolaewa. As a political and economic refugee from the Communist regime, Jermolaewa landed in Austria’s refugee camp in Traiskirchen before being granted asylum in this country and finally choosing to stay and study in its capital, Vienna. Having undergone a traumatic transition, Jermolaewa experienced the brutal life of a refugee, a life bereft of any humane treatment. Hence, the border between the living conditions of a human and an animal often seems to shift.  Jermolaewa’s first-semester piece, the “Hendl Triptych”, met with an immediate response by Harald Szeemann and was presented in his dAPERTutto show at the Venice Biennale in 1999. The Hendl Triptych consists of a three-monitor video installation in which chicken rotate and roast on a grill. Like in many other works by Jermolaewa, an important element denotes the interim stage between animal and human behavior, signifying the evolutionary transition from prey to predator, and from savageness to domestication, empowerment and subjugation. The shift between time referents, which are personally linked with ideologically and politically distinct socialization patterns, is equaled by a shift in body textures and postures. Her most recent work in connection with the 7th Berlin Biennial consists of an analysis of the protests against the elections in Russia at the beginning of 2012, which demonstrates not only the artist’s but also the protesters’ stance against the unequal treatment of human and political rights.   

 

W.S.

1970, Leningrad / RU, at that time SU

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