Conversations... with Elena Kovylina


Elena Kovylina is a Moscow-based artist whose confrontational performances concern the political significance of a woman’s experience in Russia today. Taking on the varied roles of author, aggressor, and object of desire, Kovylina’s devastating and visceral social critiques have made her among the most prominent young artists currently working in Russia.

Her signature piece—the only one thus far seen in the US—is Waltz, a 2001 performance in Berlin that was documented on video and shown in the exhibition Russia Redux #1 at the New York gallery Schroeder Romero in September and October of 2005 and was performed by the artist this past December at the NADA art fair in Miami. In Waltz spectators are invited to dance with the artist, who is otherwise engaged in a strange ritual of decorating herself with military badges, downing shots of vodka, and smashing the empty glasses on the ground, all the while becoming precariously smashed herself. The audience’s role gradually shifts; whereas at the beginning of the performance Kovylina offers them a pleasant dance, by the end of the piece they’re confronted with having to support the slumping, wobbling, nearly incapacitated artist.

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© Elena Kovylina, 2003-2008
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