“Anonymous Society” features works by Sergei Anufriev, Yevgenia Belorusets, Sergey Bratkov, Oleksandr Chekmenev, Oksana Chepelyk, Zhanna Kadyrova, Victor Palmov, Evgeny Pavlov, Serhiy Popov, Kirill Protsenko, Roman Pyatkovka, Larisa Rezun-Zvezdochetova, Oleksandr Roitburd, Vasyl Tsagolov, Leonid Voitsekhov.
The exhibition explores the period of anomie that Ukrainian society was plunged into after the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), and that it languishes in to this day. The term “anomie,” coined by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim, describes a crisis-ridden transition period societies land in after political turmoil and changes in values when “the old gods are aging or are already dead, and others are not yet born.”
These situations when new behavioural paradigms are not yet formed raise the question of the role of individuals, their destructive potential and desire to make their voices heard, or to remain voiceless.
The performance of the Odessa-based artist Leonid Voitsekhov, entitled “They’ll Settle the Score With Us for It” (1984), marked the starting point of the exhibition. The performers carried a poster with this slogan through Odessa streets as a reaction to a disaster that left the city without power and water supply. When the police detained the performers and asked who the “they” of the poster might be, the artists replied, “The elemental forces.” Within the context of the exhibition, this gesture denotes the metaphorical division of society into two opposite forces: us and them.
The exhibition consists of several chapters. The first addresses individual existence within the ideological standoff, from the emergence of heroes to their gradual devaluation; existence among double standards; and individuals evolving against the backdrop of changing political scenery. Chapter 2 treats self-awareness, inner struggle, collective memories and experiences. The last chapter deals with intimate physical experiences; addressing them is a manifestation of resistance against control over private lives.
In essence, within the context of the exhibition, “anonymous society” is a metaphor for the absence of society as such. Individuals had inherited distrust for discredited authorities, yet, driven by inertia, continue to live under the unseen gaze of the Big Brother. The exhibition seeks to discover the “I” and make it manifest. It foregrounds individuality, making its voice heard in the anonymous field of the deformed social and political reality, within the sphere of personal memories and subjective experiences.