April 22 till June 07, 2009
The stylistic device that Marina Naprushkina primarily makes use of is irony. The most general definition of irony is: to say the opposite of what is really meant.
It was no coincidence that the forefather of irony, the Greek philosopher Socrates, introduced ironic discourse at a time when the safety and autonomy of the Greek city states appeared to be threatened by political expansion and the influence of other cultures. Socrates’ irony was also a political strategy of ambiguity. Plato had Socrates participate in dialogues in which he asked his dialogue-partners to give their definition of friendship or justice and then proceeded to lead them increasingly to contradict themselves. The supposed safe, traditional knowledge reveals itself to be merely the unquestioned passing-on of empty phases.
Marina Naprushkina proceeds in the manner of an artistic Socrates by placing elements drawn from official Belarusian propaganda in new aesthetic contexts. In this way, she causes their cultural and geographical limitations to be clearly revealed, as well as the fundamental problem of political propaganda in the age of globalisation. Their attempt to communicate positive and laudatory messages in a simple, one-sided manner appears, if viewed from outside, to be the result of the inability or reluctance to recognise the ironic potential of the stylistic devices implemented. In the more advanced stages of capitalism, an advertisement that does nothing more than consistently praise the supposed advantages of a product or a service seems increasingly absurd. Therefore the Belarusian propaganda, processed by Marina Naprushkina’s “office for anti-propaganda” appears to be an old-fashioned advertising strategy and at the same time obsolete art.
However, it goes beyond mere ironic criticism: The artist also reveals how the stylistic devices of propaganda are able to survive in the context today’s global artistic events. She simply competently incorporates them into the artistic strategies that are considered “acceptable” today, which Marina Naprushkina extensively implements using painting, photography and video, animation and installation.
(Ludwig Seyfarth)On the occasion of the exhibition, the “office for anti-propaganda” will produce the edition “Miss Atom 2009”.
The edition will contain pictures of the participants of the international beauty contest “Miss Atom 2009”. The contest is aimed at female workers at nuclear power stations and research institutes as well as female students and graduates of associated departments at universities in Russia and the former Soviet republics. The applicants must be between 18 and 35 years of age.
The award ceremony is an important event in the social calendar of the nuclear power station communities in Russia. It takes place annually on the eve of International Women’s Day (8th March) in Moscow. The first prize has the title “Tropical Paradise” and consists of a one-week trip to Cuba. The sponsor of this event is Atomenergoprom OJSC.
“Office for anti-propaganda”
Marina Naprushkina: Propaganda as anti-Propaganda
The work of Marina Naprushkina, born 1981 in Minsk (Belarus), focuses on the critical examination of the contemporary Belarusian state under the authoritarian rule of Alexander Lukashenko. His governance extends into all areas of life: The opposition has been oppressed and marginalized, the media have been made to toe the line.
A fundamental instrument of Lukashenko’s rule is the composition, production and control of the Belarusian reservoir of images. Lukashenko’s visual omnipresence, his careful propagandistic presentation as a wise, strong and benevolent statesman stands in the tradition of the (among others) Soviet personality cult.Lukashenko’s propaganda is the starting-point for Marina Naprushkina’s art: She analyses Lukashenko’s propagandistic arsenal of weapons and turns them against him. She draws on the rich source of propagandistic material provided by governmental institutions (for example the frequently updated presidential homepage). The thus obtained images and symbols are either changed slightly or placed in a different context in order to reverse the original message.
By transforming propaganda into art, Marina Naprushkina also generates an awareness of the propagandistic element of art. Art also attempts to master the perception and the conscience of the beholder, to suggest or exclude a certain perspective. As such, Naprushkina’s art is propaganda as anti-propaganda or, as the Serbian artist Uros Djuric put it: “It is fake socialist realism about fake socialism.“In fitting with this, Marina Naprushkina runs an “Office for Anti- Propaganda”: She uses different media (e.g. video, animation, installation, photography and painting) in order to remain unpredictable. The guerrilla tactic of well directed media “pinpricks” aims at enticing the propagandistic “adversaries” to break their cover, to make them vulnerable, and to subversively undermine their communication strategies.