ANASTASIA VENKOVA, ARTIST
We may have to stand in the same place, but our thoughts can fly freely like birds. Russian artist Anastasia Venkova uses Yves Klein as her inspiration, and was passionately eager to continue her special project on the Seine, but the beginning of the pandemic disrupted her plans. We invited Anastasia to our Re-born platform to present this interesting project she was preparing.
Breakthrough + "Re-" : Hello, and thank you for agreeing to this interview. May you please introduce yourself and your project that has been canceled?
Anastasia Venkova: My name is Anastasia Venkova, I am an artist from Moscow. The major focus of my contemporary art endeavours has been on secularization of sacral experiences. In my works, I primarily examine the direct interaction between a viewer and the exterior forces and concepts. I work with gold as a medium to translate my intentions. That is what brought me to Yves Klein and his works, as he also used gold in his performances.
I started research and did a pre-performance in Paris in October. I stood on the banks of the Seine and covered myself with IBK pigment - Klein's blue and then gold leaf. I removed sheets of gold leaf from my body and threw them into the Seine.
Yves Klein threw gold into the bay, which he received for selling emptiness in the gallery. In addition, he used women's bodies as “living brushes” to create his works. Klein has been accused of being chauvinistic because of this utilitarian approach to women, but I would like to shift the emphasis a little. It seemed important to me to enter into a dialogue with these of his works and reflect on the body, in particular, the female body, as a tool, brush, or surface for applying signs.
Analyzing his interaction with emptiness, I was interested in investigating the act of throwing gold into the river, more like a ritual, potlatch, voluntary sacrifice or a deal with the elements. Using my own body as a surface, I entered into communication with Sena, throwing into it the gold removed from my skin.
I would like to continue this project and had to travel to Paris and later to Burgundy in April-May 2020. My idea was to develop research in the field of interaction with emptiness, and I intended to do a series of performances in Paris and Burgundy based on the study of the properties of the body as a physical tool for applying signs and at the same time a surface that can be covered with signs. The spring sky in France was important to me, since Yves Klein said that he would sign the sky with his name. I intended to conduct further research in France and prepare a performance with gold, body and sky.
© Anastasia Venkova
B + R: What were the aims of your project?
A. V. : The goal of my project was to explore the interaction of flesh and ethereality and create an image that continues the tradition of French ritual conceptualism. The final embodiment of my project was to be a video recording of the performance and a series of paintings that would concentrate this experience.
B + R: Could you please describe in detail the planned timeline of your project,
and at what time you were informed that it would have to be canceled?
A. V. : I didn't have a clear timeline, but I planned to spend three weeks at an art
residence in Paris and another month and a half at an art residence in Burgundy
to work out and finish the project. The fact that the residences are closing, I
learned about March 10.
B + R: Ideally, what would your project have looked like?
A. V. : My project in its perfect form would be a performance in front of the
audience on the banks of the Seine.
B + R: Are there consequences of the pandemic on your future plans? How are
you coping with it?
A. V. : Now it is difficult for me to plan something, since I am locked in Russia
until the border opens. I intend to carry out my project as soon as I can get to
B + R: Thank you very much Anastasia, we hope to see you in France very soon.
© Anastasia Venkova
This interview was collected by Yanan He in English.