“These Virgin Lands Bring Up New Heroes” is a documentation of Iana, a utopian society located in a deep primeval forest, somewhere far from here, in other time. From their vantage point in the future, its residents reveal to us their how-to manual for happiness and fulfillment. The people of Iana present themselves in a frontal manner, like specimens in a butterfly collection. They look us straight in the eye, sure of their superior knowledge.
The work consists of a series of photographs, made using a large-format camera in Kharkiv, Ukraine, juxtaposed with texts recalling the language of 20th century manifestos and communist propaganda. In exhibition form, the texts are screen-printed in red on the framing glass, partially obstructing the photograph.
“These Virgin Lands Bring Up New Heroes” presents itself as truth, as true as the Soviet newspaper “Pravda” or the American “alt-press”. But something is amiss. The how-to manual contradicts itself and reveals its dissonance. The places depicted are flat, like the décor of a theatre to which the spectators have no access. The project adopts an intentionally absurd approach, recalling a long tradition of absurdity as a potent tool of subversion in slavic art and literature.