Elena Artemenko

Elena Artemenko / b. 1988, Russia / lives and works in Moscow


The 5th Ural Biennial Main Project features the work:
“The Pull” (Video, 2017)
Courtesy of the artist

In her artistic practice, Elena Artemenko explores issues concerning the body, its controls, and obsessive psychological states. The Pull explores the tension of a collective body making continuous attempts to overcome gravity as it pulls itself up with internal will. A group of individuals performs a cyclic ritual of pulling and falling. As soon as one of the performers accumulates enough energy and inner forces to pull him/her out, the others follow to push upwards. But the collective body again falls down, limply, and its efforts seem to be trapped in a Sisyphean curse.

A sensational and powerful metaphor, The Pull poetically describes the vulnerability of individual will and collective labor under systematic and authoritarian control. It also hints at the cycle of life, and how ups and downs, inward and outward, birth and death are all parts in the process of energy transmission that forms the larger cosmos.

Also presented work:
“Street Organ” (Kinetic object, 2015)
Courtesy of the artist

By rotating the wheel handle of the Street Organ, the viewer makes this iron machine come to life, and the boots start marching. Directly referencing military symbols, Artemenko turns this authoritarian machine into a giant instrument. As the mechanism rotates, the boots hit the ground, making a rhythmic stomping sound. But there is something distressing here: Where are the bodies that are supposed to be wearing these boots? Who is giving the order for their march? Why are they not going forward, or anywhere? At once cacophonous and mechanical, this inanimate movement emphasizes the indifferent and ominous military force, and the numerous human lives that have been anonymously sacrificed.