HYDROTHERAPEUTIC PROCEDURES, OR, AH, MOMENT, LINGER ON
Judging by the title of the exhibition of the Moscow artist Daria Krotova – Harvesting Rain – one will have every reason to assume that it is dreamingly poetic or paradoxically metaphysical. But the origin of the title seems to be very mundane – from the routine practice known to many country house dwellers of collecting rainwater, especially where there is no or unreliable running water, and the well water is also hard and complicated to get.
In the center of the exhibition there is the same group of objects – threads that imitate rain streams falling from the ceiling into the bowls on the floor, or more precisely, the models of bowls made of unbaked clay. Here again we are tempted to recall the ancient Roman impluviums – cisterns for collecting rainwater in the atriums of ancient “domus”, and “Music on the Water” – installation of Ilya Kabakov and Vladimir Tarasov, who collected dripping water from the ceiling. But Daria Krotova's project does not aim so much at archetypical culturological meditations or direct dialogue with other artists, as at articulation of her own country life experience. The process and results of this articulation lead to the discovery of other (probably) unsteady positions, alternative to known archetypes, and the artist's voice acquires special intonations suggesting the possibility of new aesthetic shifts.
The artist focuses on the study of such shifts as well as shifts as a method, an analogue of the ban on formalists-OPOJAZians . All the exhibited items are represented in the state of shift. The rainwater is collected into containers that, without being baked, will become soaked and caked, turn into wet shapeless clay. A glass with a toothbrush and a wet towel are made of faience and soar above and in front of the washbasin instead of standing or hanging on it. They are joined by the rubber wet gloves and worn out flip-flops that became ceramic, by the legs of the country house dweller that separated from the rest of the body and are waiting for the evening ablution, and, finally, 24 ceramic tiles folding into a large wall panel, with white silhouettes of mosquitoes on a dark background – former shadows, phantoms of country nights with their mixture of enjoying fresh after-rain air and buzzing-winged insomnia.
Turning to the realities of country life, the artist follows, on the one hand, the latest trends of the world art, aimed at merging with worldly everyday life, and on the other, makes her artistic contribution to the local tradition of country house culture, consecrated by the names of Chekhov, Gorky, Pasternak. Daria Krotova’s plastic images complement the culture developed, first of all, in the literary and theatrical terms. This special local culture of Russian country house dwellers developed back then as an alternative to the traditional cultures of the village and the estate, as
well as of the urban civilization where the country house dwellers come from originally. Imbued with personalistic nostalgia for harmony with nature, it certainly did not lead to the return of the golden age and was, in fact, a modern and at the same time a decadent shift in an unknown direction. For almost a century and a half since its foundation, this culture has acquired a multilayered peculiar objectivity and psycho-poetics
Daria Krotova is a connoisseur of country life in all the diversity of its manifestations but in her works she does not become a cataloger of the country civilization. The daughter of a scientist-physicist, the wife of an expert in the philosophy of existentialism, she translated Francis Ponge's “Le parti pris des choses” (“The Nature of Things”), and in her current art project she is interested, first of all, in the limits of what is possible in art. Bringing together the art practice and the experience of living in the country house, Daria Krotova tests the ability of art as an instrument for capturing uncertain states. Rain for her is a metaphor for the mobility and variability of instantaneous states, her creative task is the objectification of fluidity, her objects are sculptures of evanescent states. Harvesting Rain reminds us catching quark particles in quantum mechanics, but, like in physics, the catch in art is not definite – either these are clots of solid matter or elusive waves.