Natalya vitsina



To a certain extent, the 1937 Paris World Exhibition represents the culmination of the propaganda efforts of the Soviet regime aimed at asserting the image of its ideal man. And one must admit that at the time these efforts achieved the maximum possible success. It goes without saying that Vera Mukhina with her sculpture Worker and Kolkhoz Woman and Grigory Alexandrov with his film Circus contributed significantly to this success. They both received the Grand Prix of the exhibition and became symbols of their era. The heroes of the film vividly demonstrated the supremacy of Soviet man over the representatives of other ideologies. There is a good reason why the actor Stolyarov, who created the image of the superhero (incidentally, the first ever in the cinema, one year earlier than American Superman from the comics) posed for Mukhina for the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman sculpture. The preparations for the exhibition were declared a top-priority political objective and were carried out under Stalin’s personal control. The results of the exhibition were presented as the triumph of the Soviet way of life, while the works of the winners were effectively promoted as the standard bearers of new Soviet ideological art. The Song about Motherland from the film was considered as a potential choice for the national anthem of the USSR. Vera Mukhina’s sculpture became the symbol of the Mosfilm studio. In this way a serious claim was made for replacing the “decadent” avant-garde of the 1920s with genuine proletarian art. So why don’t the events of the distant 1937 leave us indifferent today? What makes the artist cast a retrospective look on this era? Everybody will see in the works his own. The word “repeat” has become the key. In other words, the artist is calling on us to look around intently and discover that many phenomena surrounding us in the modern world have their roots in our past. Recoding the signs, texts and symbols of the Soviet era, Vitsina forms a contemporary ironic context, engaging spectators in a semantic game. She takes the situation of the construction of the model of the ideal Soviet man to its absolute logical conclusion, decomposing it into separate fragments (which is incidentally synchronised with the story of Mukhina’s own sculpture, which survived several instances of its assembly and disassembly right down to separate sheets of iron).

Natalya Vitsina was born in Moscow, studied at the Surikov Art School, graduated from the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow (Department of Graphics, Studio of Political Posters), and also studied at the Art College of Memory of 1905 in the Faculty of Theatre. After graduating from the institute in 1984, the artist became fascinated with film posters, and created advertising posters for many Soviet and foreign films, including for such directors as Andrei Tarkovsky and Nikita Mikhalkov. She has worked in her area of expertise (posters and book illustration) for a number of Soviet publishers. She was a member of the Graphics Committee and Moscow Union of Artists (Youth Section). She took part in political poster exhibitions on Malaya Gruzinskaya, in the Manezh, and on Kuznetsky Bridge, and in exhibitions held in countries of the former Soviet bloc. In the 1990s she collaborated with a number of galleries and taught courses. Since 2001 she has collaborated with the artist Alexey Dushkin (design, sculpture). Their joint works have repeatedly been recognised in the area of design. Her works have been exhibited in the Schusev State Museum of Architecture and the National Centre for Contemporary Art, and can be found in private and public collections (the National Centre for Contemporary Art, the Museum of Film, Muzeon, etc.) She lives and works in Moscow.