ONCE UPON A TIME…
I was born in Odessa. As a child and teen I lived in the very CENTER of the old part
of the city, right opposite the famous Opera Theatre. My home was a huge room
with extremely high ceilings in a cheerful and at the same time creepy communal
flat shared by seven families. My mother, a woman of a fantastic beauty, had a
rare in those years profession of a model, and my father was a sailor and a music
lover. I studied at one of the best schools in town and spent most of my childhood
behind the scenes of Soviet podium (with my mother) and in the casino of the
cruise ship (with my dad). I used to roam alone wherever I wanted, exploring the
old city with its walk-through yards, pitched roofs and steep stairs. I still have a
habit of calling the streets with their soviet period names.
I’m very thankful to my mom that she was always encouraging my interest in
painting. Actually, I dreamt about becoming a fashion designer, but as long as I
was absolutely unable to hold a needle in my hands, I was compelled to enter the
Art School’s least desired Department of Arts and Crafts.
At first I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it, but certain events and literally giving a
sack of potatoes to the right people brought me to work as a trainee at the
Slavuta Porcelain Factory of Sanitary Products, which I kept visiting as a freelance
artist for 10 more years after graduating from the Arts School. The factory never
had artists in their staff before, so I was in the CENTER of attention again. I was
free to work as much as I wanted, I could use any materials in any quantities, the
factory workers were very helpful in all respects – I lived in clover, so to say. I was
using as much porcelain clay as I needed and could bake at any time of day and
night! I could take away a toilet pan covered with my own paintings from the
factory with no documents because no one could believe that this painted thing
could be of any interest to anybody! And in general, people in Slavuta thought of
me as a crazy girl who instead of spending the summer at the sunny beaches of
Odessa came to their city, where devastation and misery were starting to flourish.
Their “strategic” Sanitary Products Factory was the only one in town that kept
working. Now, when I recall these years, 1995-2005, it feels like that was my true
Heaven on Earth. As I worked there I learned not to worry too much about the
materials, not to count every kilo of the clay or save every inch of space in the
oven, but to work fast, “a la prima”, without any sketches – in order to save time.
That was a pure creative process with no commercial component added. The only
thing that was missing was a teacher, a guiding hand - I had to learn everything
myself, through my own experience. This is where my own style was born,
“narrative and analytical therapy”, as I like to call it.
Then, in 2005, this heaven collapsed. The factory was sold, the guards from Kiev
arrived, the dormitory fee now had to be paid on a daily basis, like in a hotel, it
was forbidden to work at night - I got under a watchful eye and all the creativity
was killed, they were trying to turn me into just another small gear of their
At this point my life was suddenly turned around again – I was offered a position
of artistic director for the “Ukrainian Decameron” by Vladislav Troitsky at Odessa
Academic Ukrainian Musical and Drama Theatre. I was invited as an artist “who
wasn’t yet spoiled by the love for the theatre” (I hadn’t been there since my
school years!). A new page in my life started – working for a genius director Vlad
Troitsky in a tandem with my “brother in arms” Aleksey Nuzhny. After the
successful premiere of “Decameron” Vlad brought us to the Kiev theatre “Dakh”
(“The Roof”) and this period can be called the Heaven of Earth No.2. I found
myself in the very CENTRE again! We were working on large-scale projects in
Arsenal, going on tours, I finally had a teacher (Vlad), a large creative family (the
actors of the “Dakh” theatre) and pure creative process again. The “GogolFest”
was born before my eyes, we were doing the impossible.
I was working with metals, fluoro-materials, artificial hair, papier mache, but I
didn’t drop ceramics. Vlad allowed me to arrange a workshop in his garage and I
started to practice in RAKU – an ancient Japanese technology: much fire and
smoke, heat-resistant gloves, a helmet with a visor… Dressed as an astronaut I
was diving into the 1000 C-degree kiln with the forceps and drawing out anything
that came to my head. My narrative and analytical therapy went on…
But all of a sudden some circumstances brought me back to my home city again.
The crisis has forced the once productive tandem “Tam-de- my” to break up.
Odessa was calling me to open a children’s ceramics studio at the Jewish Centre.
At first I was full of inspiration, but then failed to work under pressure, refusing to
become a gear again.
Six years ago an incredible workshop was offered to me. I was ready to share my
skills and knowledge. So now I do not just create something myself, but also teach
the children, give them personal lessons on working with clay, I interact with
young and old (I’ve also got a group of adults called “Ukrainian Golden Hands”), I,
so to say, started to create “masterpieces” with children’s hands. My studio is
called “Детский лепит” in Russian, which is a bit hard to translate, as it is a
wordplay between the two notions – children’s clay molding and children’s
lisping. I think that it is valuable that my students are not under pressure of any “-
isms”, they do not think about any concepts, they create without the strains of
contemporary art principles or any other art styles, they are open to the world.
Their works are pure art, not dimmed by far-reaching plans for selling or
participating in exhibitions and projects. I am building my Heaven on Earth No.3.
Nowadays, most of the young artists belong to a certain art style, group. Where
do I belong? With all my talents, it’s hard for me to tell, it’s like ”on two fronts” at
the same time. I’m generally disturbed with one issue: the arts society, especially
here in Ukraine, simply denies ceramics as an art. Despite the fact that I work in a
respectful theatre, create modern decorations, huge fluoro-installations, know a
lot and invent myself new unique technologies, manage the colour and the form,
conjure with fire in the night… still I am considered not quite a real artist, just a
ceramist – Arts and Crafts (pejoratively), even by my close friends, actual painters.
Yes, this is my language. This is the way I communicate with the world. Like a
warrior, all my life I follow the chosen route and try to prove that baked clay is
not just a handcraft, but a modern sculpture. And to know technologies, do magic
with fire and colour – this is not a drawback, but additional language resources, a
bonus I would say. And in general, AN ARTIST MAY DO ANYTHING, EVEN BE AN
“ARTS AND CRAFTS”.
The community of people prefers to stay indifferent and live aside from the
surrounding world, using it only as a resource necessary for a specific life-scheme
functioning. The unity between man and nature is rare. Most often, when people
turn to the world, it is more like an invasion, irruption, demolition, destruction of
the neighbouring forms of life, that are themselves certain communities, which
get in the eyesight of a man. The community of people confronts aggressively
their supposed opponent – the community of pigeons. People have created all
sorts of means to fight with the “parasites” that shit on the monuments erected
by the citizens for their heroes. Broken glass is mixed with cement and left to
harden on the window ledges to glitter there forever with its sharp rainbow-like
edges. Ultrasound, eagle voice recordings serve to protect architectural
monuments from the pigeons’ vandalism. Metal thorns on the greenish oxidized
busts of poets and leaders frighten not just birds but citizens as well.
The artist Natalia Marinenko suggests solving this problem in a more peaceful
manner. Her “Anti-shit pigeons” project represents ceramic objects in the form of
the birds that look quite realistic, each having its own personality and spirit, as if
they are the replicas of real pigeons living in a city park.
As an experiment, these ceramic pigeons were placed on the monument of the
Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in the park: live pigeons didn’t want to sit near
their copies. Placing Anti-shit pigeon objects in the favorite habitat of real pigeons
superseded the latter. The objects created by Natalia involuntary displace the real
birds. They seem to be afraid to look into the eyes of their inanimate twins that
gleam with nacreous glares on their wings, the play of glazing, as if they are
startled of their own reflection in the mirror. This city sculpture is also invoked to
immortalize the bygone tradition of dovecots in Odessa.
Anti-shit pigeons in the city area have not only functional meaning of protecting
the monuments from pollution, moreover, they represent the works of art
themselves, which is very important for the evolution of city culture in general.
NO MORE FAIRY-TALES
Where are they, the fairy tales of our childhood? What happened to them? Their
charm disappears right before our eyes and instead we get the irony at best and
at worst – the grotesque, which became quite a common thing nowadays. We
were trying to turn the fairy tale into reality for so long, that now a bare plot is all
that remained. But I will not bother you with long theoretical oratory. Anyone
who wants, can turn to substantial fairy-tale investigations written by Claude Levi-
Strauss, Erna Pomerantseva, Vladimir Propp and a long list of their disciples and
followers. I should better offer your attention my poem which was written under
the influence of a fairy series created by Natasha.
The story of Ivan and the Gray Wolf
Without the Gray Wolf,
“Snow White and Seven Dwarfs”
Without the seven dwarfs.
The Never-laughing Tsarevna
Has nothing to laugh at,
There’s nobody who’s witty,
Everyone is sad.
Now of well-known Gulliver -
You won’t find anything large or king-size
Even if you walk on him
With binoculars at your eyes.
“Geese and Swans” fairy tale
With no wings and no tails.
A Little Muck, it should be told,
Grew for so long that he got old.
And how about this cutie –
A sleepless Sleeping Beauty.
Red Riding Hood won’t bother
To bring the basket to grandmother.
A Roly-Poly lost his path in woods,
The Puss brought to the cobbler his old Boots.
The Princess took her little Pea
To plant and see what it would be.
Three Little Pigs have sold their houses
Got on the run, The Times announces.
The poor Baba-Yaga witch -
A broom is all she can afford,
Vasilisa the All-Wise bitch
Outwitted herself and was deplored.
Vasilisa the Beautiful
Doesn’t care if she’s ugly or beautiful
Humpty-Dumpty and Cinderella
Get together under umbrella.
The Golden Cockerel with chicks from fancy diner
Decided he would like to fly to China.
At the end they all will get to
The cemetery “Heap of Dust”
Where Koschey the Immortal statue
Can be found all covered with rust.
Me and Kali
Women left me and stay on their own
Now I live with Kali alone
If it was before 18.01.2013 that you visited my place
You couldn't yet see here her face.
Kali and I both get drunk
I cover with wine her hanging tongue
Blood would fit for that even more
Durga is our mother-in- law
And Shiva is her man.
So we sleep on damp
We cover the sheets with sweet red wine
To use some blood would also be fine
Instead of some silly saline.
Though often her face is black with fury
I wouldn't say that she's a Fury
She crashes the demons like the cockroaches,
We watch horror movies as night approaches.
When all is swallowed by darkness here
I like to take from the rear.
When twilight hides the lines in mire
We fill each other with desire.
Sometimes in the darkness you stumble
Upon the severed heads,
But that's all right until crumbles
Our passion of the lads.
Sacrificial knife and her sword
Lay unnoticed. When she's here,
You at least get one reward -
No dumb happy faces near.
I take her necklace of sculls
And cover with bilberry jam.
Smeared all over I am.
To live 'one soul' with her supposes
You stand and rake
The cut off ears and noses.
Oh, her temper is something rare -
Put all India in despair
She won't even turn a hair.
You may strangle Bangalor's half
"A substantial talk," she would laugh.
My friend came and teased Kali:
"Haha! Kali - Let's rally!"
Well, she'll get enough deadly wheels
For 777000 kills!
Here she is with empty hands.
Just us - no swords, no reapers, no heads.
Scent of death is the sweetest of all
Flesh-eating flowers we've got at the wall.
Blood pours and boils on corpses pile
I haven't been with you for quite a while
And when she drops her knife and sword
My arms are spread with due accord
When she unclasps my relaxed body
Nobody ever knows anybody.
Insensibly the pulse is growing slow
As well as brain and my blood flow
The deadly poisoning makes body numb
... Now I'll come...
And when this endless Kalpa's over
We'll roll up into darkest gloom
And into the abyss or lower
Will fall our cozy sleeping room.
The night of time will pass within a single blink
And no one will be there to notice we're extinct.