"You Are Like Me in Youth, Only Better"
Lisa Chukhlantseva
Сurated by Alexander Burenkov
February 2017

ISSMAG gallery open a personal exhibition "You Are Like Me in Youth, Only Better" of the young artist Lisa Chukhlantseva, student of Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia. Her artistic investigation focuses on visual context of teenagers and kidults who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s. Having absorbed similar social and cultural norms, they share similar stories of growing-up and experience similar problems with communication,—a generation the artist calls "angels anonymous.""Angels anonymous" of Chukhlantseva are the soul-searching teenagers procrastinating in the environment of social networks and visual aggregator platforms. They prefer comfy, personalized world of Instagram subscriptions and the public pages of Vkontakte with their pseudonostalgia for 1980s and 1990s to the grey reality of contradictory and confusing contemporaneity. It is as if referring to the period they can hardly remember, they are trying to turn back time so as to overcome the irreversibility of its direction, to turn the historical time into myth, to regain the security of childhood which they have never had or which has irrevocably gone. To the warnings on "filter bubbles" by political and Internet activist Eli Pariser—the negative side of the personalized search when websites determine which information user would like to see based on his personal data—"angels anonymous" respond by creating their own "soap bubbles" of escapism into social network.


Carefully designed visual filtration of reality allows inside this protected world of teenagers only those images and information that are pleasant to them. In response to this statement by Eric Schmidt, Google's former head—"It will be very difficult for people in the coming years to see or buy anything that was not in some way customized for them"—they, with a smirk, put on those rose-colored glasses of their designed, online identities in touch only with other similar, fashionably compatible profiles. By ignoring the reality of the world in favor of its personalized interpretation, they foreswear love and friendship in favor of "neo-friendship" of followers and subscribers.


Like the contemporary artists Rosa Rendl and Amalia Ulman, who employ staged photography to imitate the visual language of social networks, Chukhlantseva reproduces the mechanisms of identity construction in social networks at the time of maturation and self-determination with laptops and smartphones in hands into which adolescents sometimes invest more intimate relationships than in their peers. Self-expression and communication in social networks will inevitably turn (due to the very nature of these networks) conscious or unconscious tool of formation of like-minded audiences who share similar aesthetics, jargons, or outlooks.In one of her public pages at VKontakte named "Winter Solstice" Chukhlantseva uploaded a photo with commentary of her sister: "It's me, my older sister Lisa and Vera in our dacha in the country in Atlashkino. We had our happiest days of summer there. We made up a lot and did everything we wanted: amateur music videos to CDs such as "Disco Hits of 2000s," photoshoots in funny outfits, and various theater performances dedicated to our relatives or neighbors. I don't know, I remember everything too well to write my memoirs, because it has been so recent, and we continue fooling around like this." Light-hearted nostalgia tinging figures of Chukhlantseva is not "homesickness" or even longing for a metaphysical home that no longer exists or never existed, but it's literally longing for the dacha whose image becomes for the artist an incarnation of memories of carefree summer vacations spent with her grandmother away from home, an allegory of infinite freedom and unconscious play with the world. In the dialectic of normalized leisure determinant of specific conditions that are separate from the pervasive employment, dacha becomes a unique state onto which we project that which has no place in our normal, urban, adult life, everything which is so dear to the heart, and everything which is simply impossibe to throw away. Melancholy thus becomes a re-enactment of joyful, happy memories of childhood, a device to bring back childlike mood into the present.The textures of dacha and camp aesthetics on display at ISSMAG gallery serve not only to start the mechanisms of memory, but also to embody today's Internet hypoaestetics which blur the boundaries between personal and public, virtual and real, ordinary and fancy, identifiable and anonymous.

For the method of constructing the exhibition the artist employs the logic emulating blogging in public pages on VKontakte social network by inviting to participate in its public program (discussions, lectures and screenings) her friends and followers of social networks. As a second part of the project in ISSMAG gallery the artist will create an online exhibition (a continuation of the exhibition "You Are Like Me in Youth, Only Better" will open on VKontakte on February 28, the last day of winter)."It can be also mentioned in the press pelease: 'Do not wake up—the world will burn you!' Sleeping butterflies go round and round in the night and cannot see that they are being consumed by fire,"—Lisa sends me on Facebook a slightly altered quotation from a review of Guy Debord's film We Go Round and Round in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire with a photo of her dress decorated by a flame in tiled sequins in attachment—"Everything has started with my clothes for Outline rave that I did not put on ... I've seen too much of Guy Debord's) but wait, WAKE UP ... and yet .. I do not know ... I like it that one of the translations of the English 'dream' into Russian means fabulation and not sleep, in which case you do not need to wake up."



Lisa Chukhlantseva was born in 1994 in Kazan. She graduated from the Moscow State Open University in Roman and German languages. She now studies at the Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia (course on documentary photography with Valery Nistratov). The artist mainly works with photo, video, sculpture, and installation. She has participated in group exhibitions in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In 2016 Chukhlantseva had a personal exhibition "Cultivated Weeds" at Project Start at CCI Winzavod (curated by Kirill Preobrazhensky). She lives and works in Moscow.