Anna Parkina’s collages and sculptures, aesthetically reminiscent of Constructivist and Soviet propaganda art, are visual juggernauts from which to contemplate the anxieties of contemporary Russian culture and society.
Parkina was born and raised in the Soviet Union, and lived in Paris and California before returning to post-Soviet Moscow. Marked by a slightly distant, inside-outside perspective, her collages revisit the medium and explore it through old and new images evoking both past and present in her native country.
Her work may visually reference the historical Russian avant-garde, but it is also her own edit of the status quo – a set of image- and text-based conceptual, inscrutable ‘riddles’. Her collage works consist of abstract, geometric shapes, imagery taken from the mass media, cut-out printed type and hand-painted extras, completed by slightly cryptic titles. The result, despite the familiar nature of the genre and the ordinary quality of her materials, is both heady and mysterious.
Here, the everyday is re-configured and time suspended through a frenzy of layered, duplicated imagery and its suggestions – of nature, such as birds, and hands, but also of Soviet icons such as cars, instruments, buildings, trains, film still faces and sinister silhouettes of figures wearing fedoras.
Her sculptures convey a similar magnetic excess. Thick Steam Above the Wing of a Sparrow stands on a plinth as a defined solid but also nebulous shape. The way it fits together mixes the order of sharp, utilitarian craftsmanship with a chaotically abstract, non-specific purpose. Like her collages, it is like a puzzle, and it’s easy to get lost looking into its engine of oddly patterned shapes and the hollows within.
Text by Lupe Nùñez-Fernández