Fragment Gallery
(Moscow, Russia) Presents:

Alexander Shchurenkov
Once it happened, backfired

July 22-31

Opening Reception July 22,

‘Once it happened, backfired’ is a reflection of the artist on his past experience — the events that a person tries in vain to retain in his memory. The theme emerges as a kind of promise of getting acquainted and penetrating into a personal story and of immersing oneself in an account of what has happened. The viewer trustfully accepts this promise and, convinced by the artist of the correctness of his interpretations, becomes involved in a system of deceptively simple signs. The images, perceived as familiar and close, suddenly slip away from the viewer’s recognition: they neither reveal or clarify nor refer to anything.

The exhibition begins with an installation consisting of Japanese ‘Daruma’ doll and mesh object that is pieced together by Shchurenkov manually from garbage bags and household plastic bags using the technique of weaving fishing nets that he had learned from his father. This biographical detail arouses the audience's interest: was his father a fisherman or not? If he wasn’t, how did he know how to weave nets? Will the artist describe the relations that connected them? Or, perhaps, being so frank, will he say why this symbol of succession and inheritance of practices and abilities are so important to him?

Each of the works presented at the exhibition has this private dimension. Images on large silk panels are based on photos of memorable places made by Shchurenkov with his cell phone while traveling (series ‘Travel Diary’, digital prints on silk, 2018). Coloured multi-layer collages made of adhesive tape reproduce picturesque landscapes and precious events that took place there (series ‘Untitled (In Loving Memory of)’, 2018). To the audience, they appear in a completely different guise. Strips of tape are torn from white canvases with different intensity, leaving behind only pieces and scraps, which, like a carcass of memories, hold the original images. The pictures left in the phone are muffled by visual noise. Shchurenkov deliberately chooses nondescript shots similar to pictures found in the brochures of travel agencies or anybody’s phone. They become exceptional thanks to the emotional and sensual response that they evoke. However, this response is totally lacking in the reconstructed image. After printing these photographs, Shchurenkov overlays them with color segments and planes, somewhat like a collage, replacing the details provoking the affective reaction. He photographs the resulting image, blending the different compositional and structural elements. Printed on fabric, the image loses its collage nature, and the original and superimposed layers become indistinguishable.

The viewer may wonder why Shchurenkov employs all these "traps" of perception. The reason is that they are not just used to destroy a narrative and create a situation where it is impossible to imagine a coherent story but also serve as a means of transferring the event and its experience from a self-evident narrative into the space of the act of recollection itself. "I am talking about something"

gives way to a very different semantic figure: "I am talking about how I am recalling something," or — "I am talking about the desire to recall, and even a Japanese deity is winking at me from the nets placed in the stream of time"

Alexander Shchurenkov was born in 1984. This year he finished his studies on “New Strategies in Contemporary Art” at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Moscow, Russia) but his artistic practice embraces more than a five years. In August 2017, he attended Michael Beutler’s course "What the work tells about the tools" (Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts). Alexander received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 2004 from Moscow State University.