The Moscow Museum of Modern Arts presents «Mapping Trauma» — the first solo exhibition of Antoinette von Saurma to be held in Russia. The exhibition features works from four series produced in the course of the last five years: «Disasters» (2012-2017), «Shadow Archive I, II» (2015-2017), «Falling Gracefully into the Sea» (2016-2017), and «Generation» (2015-2017) as well as site-specific works created especially for MMOMA. The exhibition curator proposes the scale of the impact of catastrophes as the guiding principle for Antoinette von Saurma’s vision of trauma. Analyzing disasters as problems to be dealt with on different levels varying from those affecting us collectively, as a society, like for example ecosystem disruption («Disasters»), to more personal stories which nevertheless reflect the larger narrative (the «Generation» project is related to von Saurma’s family history shaped by the Second World War), the exhibition provides the viewer with reference points for events in his or her own life.
Taking different perspectives on disasters the artist calls on us to think about our shared responsibility for the future which largely depends on human activity and its care for the environment. The embodiments of nature in von Saurma’s work show various relationships between man and the environment revealing another aspect of catastrophe. In the «Disasters» series von Saurma depicts post-apocalyptic landscapes, at the same time both frightening and fascinating. In the «Shadow Archive I, II» series she draws a connection between ecological and humanitarian disasters, portraying the future as a dystopian world without shadows which comes as a side effect of economic growth and technological progress. A humanitarian disaster comes to the forefront in the «Falling Gracefully into the Sea» series where the sea invokes both a natural barrier to the migration of refugees and a feeling of uncertainty over the future common for all people. In the «Generation» project, including three series «Generation I», «For an Empty Album» and «Seeking», von Saurma focuses on the human world and addresses the theme of memory which is important in the context of the history of her family. During the Second World War von Saurma’s family left a war damaged Germany for Southern Africa. In the «Seeking» series, as a form of symbolic compensation for the loss of her family archive caused by these events, the artist created an album for her father posthumously with the help of the photo albums of distant relatives.
Von Saurma’s choice of materials for each work is conceptually motivated which sometimes involves inventing new techniques. «The heart-rending fate of those in search of a different way of life, and their brave, often fruitless struggle, moves me to draw figures in ink and water-soluble pencils. I expose them to rain, to water and watch them become submerged. I stop the process before they disappear completely, thereby somehow giving them a chance to survive», explained the artist.
As a result of the cultural cooperation between Russia and Germany for this project, «Mapping Trauma» is a continuation of MMOMA’s program dedicated to introducing Moscow audiences to art from around the world. A catalog in Russian and English is released to coincide with the exhibition and will be available in ММОМА Art Bookshop.