Samolet interprets the images of postmodern personality through emotional instability, showing comprehensive vulnerability in global information processes within the giant digital world space.
Igor Samolet began to work with candid photography, but now he came to what he calls ”performative photography”: he himself simulates situations and possible scenarios within the frame. In his last projects (e.g. Drunk Confessions) he uses personal photo archives to create three-dimensional objects, exploring the plasticity of the image and its interaction with the form.
For the exhibition Digital Landscapes Igor Samolet presents the site-specific installation Marshmallow With Marshmallow Taste. In this work he specifically expands the exhibition space by building installations that create digital windows. Textile objects represent the materialized evidence of our digital life – various memes, posts from Facebook, screenshots of personal correspondence and other. Igor constructs bizarre architecture, resembling Roman triumphal arches and ancient Russian churches. The arrangement of installations becomes a hybrid reality landscape of the usually unseen – materializing the flow of information we lead our lives in: the media arenas of the Internet.
Not only Russian, but also Swedish bits of correspondence and posts are woven into the cloth, expanding the digital context and emphasizing the generality of media space. To increase contrast of the virtual windows opened by the chaotic installation landscape, Igor wished for sight of the static winter landscape in the exhibition space.
Kinetic objects roaming the installation – selfies placed on autonomous cleaning robots – underline Samolet’s perspective on the overwhelming dynamics of this new reality. By the way, Roomba, a major manufacturer of cleaning robots, intends to sell the maps of people’s homes generated by their products, ostensibly for improving acoustics and thus enhancing hearing abilities for our new home companions Alexa, Siri and the like, which is just another personal space becoming transparent and thereby a commodity, turning privacy into an ever more outdated concept.
The project name Marshmallow With Marshmallow Taste refers to something non-existent: marshmallow always has food supplement taste, it is not produced without additives. Igor Samolet chose the title as the taste of marshmallow analogizes the lie of the land in the Russian Internet, the artist reveals its true landscape through his personal history. In view of recent events, the meaning and essence of Carol Hanisch’s article The Private Is Political is strongly transformed by the current changes in the media landscape, where the personal becomes public. On the eve of new movements and important actions like #metoo, screenshots of personal correspondence become evidence of violence, discrimination and harassment; and Marshmallow With Marshmallow Taste ceases to be an innocent play.
The artist, as if flirting, reveals only those aspects of his private life that cannot discredit him or his peers in any way. Nonetheless, Igor makes an important step unthinkable for today’s Russia: he blurs the strict boundaries of personal and public. Images on the cloth merely seem playful: selfies and playful chat talks are mixed with frightening news headlines and Russian memes sarcastically ridiculing as there is no other option to cope in the paralyzed society. Our brains include a defense mechanism that we do not fall into despair when we are unable to fight rising threat and fear. Laugh is being understood as a defensive reaction to disturbing and threatening events that we cannot change or control. With the media turned into a battlefield. Igor speaks about total defenselessness when facing the informational tsunami, all of us exposed to the all-seeing eye of private corporations, but even more imminent in Russia where a mere repost can cost you freedom – in a country with a harsh climate and no less harsh digital landscape.
Vera Trakhtenberg, art critic