Catinca Tabacaru, Bucharest
It’s All Written In The Stars by interdisciplinary artist Rachel Monosov derives from ongoing research into identity and migration as both personal and collective experience. Looking at the infrastructure of systems and ideologies, Monosov reveals their persistent appeal and influence on current politics and socio-economic structures.
Anchoring the narrative, is a video work that draws on the artist’s personal history as a woman of Russian-Jewish origins whose family joined the mass migration to Israel in the 1990s. The term “displacement” is used in astronomy to describe a particular phenomenon arising when the observer’s point of view changes, but can also refer simply to a movement, or the subjective experience of it. This interplay of meaning becomes the duality of the video work. Its premise is a reunion between two sisters in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, a remote town built around the Special Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), an imposing Soviet structure built during the 1960s Space Race to hold the BTA-6, which was for several years the world’s largest single primary mirror optical reflecting telescope. With both science fiction and autobiography elements, the video includes discourse on migration, astronomy and philosophy. It features excerpts of interviews with prominent experts such as astronomers R. Brent Tully, Bruce Elmegreen and Olga Silchenko. It nods towards the video works of Anton Vidokle, acknowledging cosmism as a massive layer of Russian and Soviet culture through his collage-like short films that address the multidimensional movement, brought forth in the mid-19th century to make sense of the human condition on Earth.
Branching out from autobiographical footnotes to major socio-historical events, It’s All Written In The Stars asks: Are there connections between the movement of stars in the sky and the movement of humans on Earth?
With science fiction and autobiography elements, Monosov creates nostalgic, anti-futuristic photographs donning neon green light reminiscent of low budget sci-fi films. By depicting unknown landscapes, the artist triggers feelings of strangeness in the viewer – “Would this green light pull the small figure standing on earth up to the sky?”
Another sculpture in the space is a replica of a set of door knobs used as functional, decorative objects inside the Hermitage Museum. Displacing these objects from their original context bestows upon them different meanings. Here the door knobs are attached to a 100+ year old Romanian door from Bucovina (an area on the border with Ukraine, formerly belonging to the USSR), drawing parallels between the two communist states and asking questions about the state of things 30 years later. The sculpture is rendered nonfunctional as the door leans in the middle of the space, unable to “open” anything. The work is also desperately separated from its original symbology of opulence as the feet of the eagle on the 17th century Tsar’s flag as Monosov’s use of 3D-printing to recreate the object renders it “cheap” and reduces the value of hierarchy.
The booth uses nostalgia for a communist state to reflect on futuristic (dys)(u)topian lives which are felt in today’s global culture and politics.