Alexander Tsikarishvili: Funny Soil Frutti Land

3 Dec 2019 - 29 Feb 2020

OVCHARENKO is delighted to present a new solo exhibition of the founder of art group North-7 -
Alexander Tsikarishvili: Funny Soil Frutti Land.


The whole gang is here: Fanny Tutti and Mario Montes, Elio Oytisika and Jack Smith, Carmen Miranda
and Slave Izaura, Busby Berkeley and folk geniuses-visionaries Nikolai Sutyagin and Oleg Arkhipov.
Everything was mixed in a dizzying kaleidoscope - a cycle of fake bananas and female legs, fruit
baskets and nets with onions, scarves with floral patterns and Amerindian feathers, cowboys and
summer residents, earthen dwellings and diode signs - everything is painted in thousands of sparkling
shades of native exotic lands.


What does this «native exotic» mean or why does everything «overseas exotic» attract us?
Immersing in a personal study of the phenomenon of «private eclecticism» - modern forms of
spontaneous folk art and embellishment, which are characterized by an impulse to create collages
of images, textures and scattered elements lacking their usual functionality - Alexander Tsikarishvili
became interested in their perception as «exotic», as well as how these forms are created due to
cravings for something «exotic». So, by raising the question of the exotic as such, we can say that it
is the inevitable flip side of any attempt to talk about the national.


The exotic was always silent, voiceless, taken out of context. Exotic character is always gagged. At
the same time, the desire for the exotic, which is used by all Hollywood media cliches, is considered
as something rather perversive, squeezed out into the gray zone on the periphery of «public taste».
Hence, in the ironic name of the fairy land «Funny Soil Frutti Land», the camp icon and one of the
symbols of tropicalism Carmen Miranda (Hollywood star, referred to only as «tutti-frutti hat girl»)
merges into a seemingly chaotic stream of images with the name of Cosey Fanni Tutti - the artist and
radical performer of the 1970s and the pioneer of industrial, alluding to the inevitable connection of the
exotic and the perverse. Cosey Fanni Tutti used BDSM aesthetics, a radical public body demonstration
as a tool to criticize the existing economic and social system as fundamentally perversive - exploiting
the perversive desires of the subject. «Exotization», that is the creation of an exotic image acts
according to the same mechanism — it exploits the desire for a different, outlandish, oriental, while
imposing a taboo on its full realization.


Thinking about the exotic it seems impossible to resist the temptation to plunge into the rustling
foliage of banana palms or dance samba on the hot sand. And here the author does not limit himself
to any of the tropical cliches, trying to find a new register of understanding the mechanisms of their
occurrence. He decides to use the historical phenomenon of «tropicalia» as a kind of found object:
extracting the term from its historical context and placing it in the context of the mythology created
by the artist.


The tropicalism movement arose among the avant-garde Brazilian artists of the 1960s. One of its
starting points was the idea of «cultural cannibalism» - the omnivorous culture, transgressive mix
of ideas and contexts as a way to redefine the national «self». Alexander Tsikarishvili continues the
path of subsequent mutations that the tropicalia underwent, transforming itself into art, into what
Elio Oytisika designated as «tropi-camp», «tropi-pop» or «tropi-hollywood». Rummaging through the
garbage continuously produced by the media machine yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the author of
Funny Soil Frutti Land collects his own «self-construction» - an absurd form that becomes a crooked
mirror of ideological mechanisms that steal from us exotic fantasies in favor of creating a myth about
the national.

 

Explaining the confrontation between the ideology and the aesthetic universe of the Tropi Camp, it’s
enough to recall how the legendary director Busby Berkeley, in his brain-exploding Hollywood musicals,
makes full use of his experience from being a director of military parades: the slender processions
of long-legged dancers in colorful Brazilian bikinis are inevitably associated with a psychedelic
kaleidoscope of military structures by an attentive viewer. Thus, the analysis by artistic means of the
methods of exploiting the image of something exotic, overseas, different, used both by the official
ideology and the entertainment industry, was an attempt to regain the alienated right to oriental
fantasy.


Continuing this logic and transferring it to «native soil», the artist observes how the reverse turn of
«exoticization» turns the most painful national myths - «untouchable» and «eternal» themes into
a light carnival whirlwind. The «vatnik» becomes a carnival costume, the oily chernozem becomes
multi-colored cheerful sparkles, and the sacred image in the red corner of the dwelling becomes
a photograph of the dazzlingly smiling Carmen Miranda. The desire to make a trip to the overseas
lands of «Funny Soil Frutti Land» basically carries a deep desire to regain stolen, «cultivated» and
packed fantasy, the right to escape into the fantasy world from a forcibly imposed ideology. And the
spontaneous need to create an almost eerie countryside eclecticism of «self-construction» turns into
a desire for self-expression through the magical, shamanistic and ritualistic, non-utilitarian, that is,
falling out of the «understandable» generally accepted system of rational behavior.

 

 

 

Lisa Tsikarishvili