Maria Agureeva is a young artist from Moscow, who researches problems of human body and its perception in culture and society. Maria forces us to think and speak about things that we see and understand but used to close our eyes to them. In the end of June she will present her new solo exhibition «Binary promises» in Pechersky gallery in Moscow. This project continues body theme but now the question is supplemented – it is also about a young artist, his place and vulnerability of his point of view. Thus we decided to talk to Maria about her work and future plans.
How did your journey begin? Was there a defining moment?
I lived in Saint Petersburg then. It all started with works which I was doing for myself. Eventually a body of works on the same topic amassed, so I thought it would be great to show them not only to my friends but also only but to other people. So a gallery in Saint-Petersburg appeared. I think it was a trigger that pushed the whole process forward.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Are there particular artists or works of art that have shaped you?
I’m inspired by corporality. This is what I work and interact with. In the university, I was inclined to feminism, and reacted to any gender inequality quite aggressively. I adored provocations. And it was apparent in my works. But from one project to another my comprehension of the problem had been evolving. From the reality where “the world belongs to men” I moved to another reality where a certain, though a complicated, balance exists: “a woman can reach self-realization by manipulating men, paying off with “false promises” as a counterfeit currency whereas men are ready to accept it as a payment”. This fragile balance provides a base for modern women’s social mobility. But the world is changing extremely fast, men are becoming more feminine which obviously affects women. I like to observe this process, to work with it.
There are several artists that I really fond of but I can’t say they have shaped me. These are Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin, Matthew Barney, Alina Szapocznikow, Ryan Trecartin.
The human body and nudity. Perception by society, its projection by the media and where do you place yourself?
I place myself beyond the borders of commonly accepted perception of human body and nudity. I mean both society and media. Human body is tabooed in most cultures. It concerns both society and the media. I place myself outside this borders. Thai is why it becomes and effective for revealing deeper layers in viewers’ perception of those ideas which I want to convey.
You are working with different materials and in various techniques. Do you have a favorite material or does your preference change, depending on your mood?
My choice of material is usually based on task which I have while developing an idea. I’m interested in polyester resin now and make active use of it. But I can’t say that it is my favorite material. I might wake up tomorrow with a new idea, which will require a new material, and it might captivate me for a while. Any material is interesting until it isn’t fully disclosed. Thus I work with it to the point where I can’t pull anything out of it anymore.
So you are still searching for «your» material and technique, aren’t you? Or do you not want to search for it and you’ll keep working with different media to make you message multifaceted?
I can’t say that I’m looking for my favorite material. There are several appealing to me: polyester resin which I’ve already mentioned, plaster (which I bring to unrecognizable condition; it is perfect for negative shapes). But again they are not favorite; these materials are just helping me to complete my tasks at the moment. I love experiments and I like different media, so this is for sure I won’t restrict myself within one material or medium.
Your work with tile – what sparked your interest towards that medium?
I was recording yet another talk in a washroom for the project «Citius! Altius! Fortius! Commodification» and that material just came across my mind. All girls’ heart-to-heart talks are here, in locker-rooms, for this reason I decided to use tile.
You are studying in the Institute of Contemporary art in Moscow now. But you have also received a designer’s education. Do you think that education is necessary for a contemporary artist?
Design seemed to be very interesting for me when I entered the university, but soon I got disappointed. Further steps related to education were more deliberate. I think that education is important as an environment which forms you. It is a good experience for me.
Do you plan to continue education abroad? Or do you still have enough resources for your work?
Well, yes, there are such plans but hardly I will enroll at some institution again for everyday studies. The most likely variant is lecture format education. There are so many things to do and studies take too much time. Many projects are planned and I cannot wait to start working on them. I have enough resources, but there are some gaps that can be filled with knowledge obtained from lectures and self-education.
So, do you plan your future or are you more of a spontaneous person, who can change everything in a last moment?
I am very impulsive person but I try to manage my time. Sometimes it is really hard to do, but this is an important part of life and, among other things, of the art process. I can’t suddenly drop everything and start to create, because of material I work with (it requires a long preparatory work, so helter-skelter isn’t suitable here). In addition, I often need models which means that other people’s time also needs planning.
Are there ideas/projects that you failed to complete? If yes, what is the reason and would you try again?
Of course, there are ideas which never come to the final stage, but that’s OK. I take it as a natural process. At times I return to some of my ideas like it was with «The spatial relations in anatomic terminology». It came to my mind when I was on the plane. I had written it down and then was rewriting thousands of times during the flight (which was really long). Then it lay in a drawer for several months only as an idea and I never believed I would come back to it again. But at some point I just realized that it could be interesting, so I started shooting.
Which talent/superpower you’d like to have?
To sleep not more that one hour a day. There are so many things that require your time, but sleeping is a biological need which takes your time away.
What would you do if you became invisible?
I wouldn’t get out of places where people are naked.
It’s very subjective for me. I often find appeal in things that may seem frankly ugly to others. My optics in regard of beauty is focused on corporeal aspects.
Three favourite movies:
it is hard for me to speak about concrete movies, but I can name my favorite directors:
Three favourite books:
I’ve liked books with pictures since my childhood.
Three favourite music bands:
The Velvet Underground
In the end of the day what does fulfill you as a person? What makes you happy?
In the era of global «likeism», I like to look how many likes my posts have got in the end of the day.
What should we expect to see in the future?
I’m going to shoot a new work on the new masculinity. Interview by Ksenia Belolutskaya