16th February – 13th April 2013
Anna Schwartz Gallery Carriageworks
The work of the group of four Russian artists AES+F: Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky + Vladimir Fridkes, poses philosophical and social questions via a variety of complex means including photography, video and sculpture. The prophetic elements in each of their projects are provocative acts that challenge habitual conceptions of good and evil, of sin and innocence. The work typically reflects a global social-cultural situation, as yet not manifest, but perhaps impending.
The ‘Angels-Demons’ in this exhibition present a new vision of the apocalypse, one that heralds not the end of the world, but the beginning of a new one. These seven large-scale, black, mirror finished sculptures play with cultural anxiety, by fusing two things every culture has in common: infants and demons. Modelled after babies of African, Asian and Indian descent, the generalised genderless figures are dressed only in nappies. Angelic wings and demonic tails sprout from each, suggesting youth to be both the saviours and the saboteurs of civilisation as we know it: harbingers of an uncertain future for the declining ‘West’.
A typically ambiguous comment on the future of a rapidly expanding Europe, the work has its own resonance in Australia, where AES+F recognise tension between ‘new arrivals’ of every period in the continent’s history. The artists decline to place themselves in the debate that their formally slick, aesthetically seductive tableaux evoke, insisting instead that the work focus a lens on the unarticulated hopes and fears generated by these “babies”.