Artist’s perspective is that of the uprooted
IF YOU GO
What: “Asya Reznikov: Up-Routed To” art exhibition
Where: Butler Institute of American Art, 524 Wick Ave., Youngstown
When: through Oct. 17
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Certain themes run through the art of Asya Reznikov.
Travel. Foreignness. Finding an identity. The differences and similarities between cultures. And the sometimes-Sisyphean task of journeying through the world.
Reznikov’s work is a product of her own experience. She was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia, emigrated to the United States when she was 5 and has spent much time abroad as a student and artist in Europe and Asia.
But her art does not reflect a sense of world-weariness; quite the contrary. It is imbued with playfulness and humor.
Schooled in the traditional arts — painting, sculpture, drawing — she nevertheless finds it most effective to explore her concepts with installations, often using video.
Reznikov is not only the creator of her conceptual pieces; she often videotapes herself, becoming part of the art.
The videos seamlessly segue from end back to beginning, so that it can be repeated as a loop. The cyclical and never-ending nature of the footage reinforces the theme.
In one piece, two video screens, surrounded in gilded frames, sit at a right angle to each other. On the right, Reznikov is packing a suitcase, repeatedly bending down to place clothing inside. Simultaneously, on the other screen, she is unpacking a suitcase, removing the exact same garments from the same suitcase — at the same time that they are being put in on the other screen.
Another installation mimics Russian nesting dolls in concept. The viewer stands before a small suitcase that is open, with a video screen inside the lid. The video that is playing shows Reznikov unpacking suitcases, each time removing a smaller suitcase, until finally she removes the very case that the viewer is watching. The scenario then plays out ad infinitum on the screen being held up by Reznikov in the video (although the loop takes 5:44).
In still another series of just slightly more traditional works, the artist holds models of buildings — that she made out of postcards — into actual street scenes. The model building blends in to the scene in terms of scale and perspective, and a photograph is made.
Though all of her art revolves around the same themes, the viewer — perhaps unaware of where the video was made — might not be aware of the full significance.
But although Reznikov does not post written explanations next to her art, she isn’t worried.
The art is very accessible, and she feels viewers will get the gist of it even if they aren’t aware of every detail.
A New York resident, Reznikov has a master’s degree from Hunter College in that city, and a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. She has also studied in Berlin, Germany; and Wolverhampton, England; and has lived and worked in France, England, Holland, Italy, Germany and India. She is conversant in five languages.
On the Vibe cover, Reznikov’s conceptual installation titled “Kitchen Sink” incorporates digital imagery inside of a stack of boxes used for moving.