The stars of Vikenti Nilin’s ‘Neighbours’ series probably come from all walks of life but they have one thing in common: they are staring into their own abyss, conveniently found in the familiar surroundings of the commonplace Soviet tower block. Yet they don’t seem in the least bit worried. Deadpan doesn’t begin to sum up the mood hanging around Nilin’s black and white portraits. The expressions on his subjects, as they perch on the edge of windowsills and balconies, are phlegmatic, unimpressed, relaxed and almost bored.
Vikenti Nilin’s photographs and installations are glacially sardonic, direct and to the point, but their oblique meaning can end up provoking nervous laughter. His images suggest a state of incarnate passivity, suspension and permanent transition, perhaps morosely alluding to the state of politics in his home country.
The ‘Neighbours’ series, taciturnly described by the artist as “the current state of practice, started in 1993”, are cryptic yet self-explanatory. We don’t really need to ask why these people are sitting so comfortably on the edge of their windowsills and balconies; possible reasons for falling can be intuited, but the suspension is Nilin’s magic trick.
Pidjak Dla Khodby Na Rukakh is made up of a transparent mannequin wearing a modified tweed jacket with upside down pockets bulging with cables and other things, wearing a smiley face badge on it, and a hook with nothing hanging on it. The set-up is unclear, but it seems that this object too is immune to the physical laws of the universe. Asked to discuss both of these works, Nilin opts for an a propos epigram taken from a Talking Heads song: “...Somewhere in South Carolina/gravity don’t mean a thing...”