Early on, the myth of Sisyphus had a profound effect on me. I recognized the figure, squeezed between the sandy surfaces of the boulder and the mountain, unable to see around his fated weight; his constant movement producing a kind of stillness, his futile struggle illustrating a simple truth pointing at bliss. Much of my work still deals with this image of impotence and impasse set against the backdrop of cultural and personal narratives.
I began the rolled series in 2006 as a way to reverse the relationship between paint and canvas. I view each individual unit as a scroll and the paint as the connective tissue, carefully measured across the edge or carelessly dabbed between the pencil lines of the once visible grid. I present my surfaces dry and hollow. Sculptures without an inside. Fragmented paintings and drawings. Matter situating performances. The act of making once a performance in itself. This series, now a persistent multiple, unites my practice into a kind of a whole.
My materials vary but are mainly rooted in the painting and drawing traditions. Recently, I began to use cement. It is teaching me something about time through color. It is propelling the series into the architectural terrain, the incompatible marriage of textile with concrete informing a new and dusty vision of work that is yet to come.
(exhibited from September 9 - October 18, 2015 at Rooster Gallery, Lower East Side, NYC)
"This exhibition is a compilation of works relating to Lifanova’s progression between the years 2011 and 2015, during which time the artist traveled to and lived throughout Europe and Central Asia. The title borrows from David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes, which reports on Major Tom, a figure introduced on an earlier album who travels to the far reaches of space in a tin can. This character’s solitary departure into unknown and uncharted territory runs parallel to Lifanova’s recent artistic journey, exploring new mediums and inventing startling new methods to create her work. The sculptures included in Rumour from Ground Control introduce intricate tensions between a sense of uncertainty and groundedness, held in balance by echos of the artist's previous series and ideas.
Several pieces in the show can be traced to Lifanova’s Rolled series--delicately rolled pieces of paper, canvas or fabric arranged into patterned compositions--a body of work that first emerged in 2006. These works contribute to the rhythm of the exhibition, set by repeating units and symbols, and amplified by sculptures, installed in a yin-yang arrangement, setting up a kind of game between sameness and difference.
Ceramic “chevaux de frise” (modeled after Czech hedgehogs, used as a defense in WWII), ceramic sticks and "flags" made of heavy parchment meters in lengths, further this play in opposites and contribute to the pretend quality of the objects as their function is unequivocally and undeniably compromised by both material and scale. In conflict with their implied military purpose, these sculptures, among others in her installation, oscillate between being an aerial view and a direct engagement with the spectator's body as each piece, scaled both up and down from its referent, measures itself against human proportions.
Lifanova’s practice is fertile with contradictions, where the artist’s truth and its immediate refusal live side-by-side in a precise equilibrium held in balance by a predominance of control. The work’s martial aesthetic is often challenged by its fragile nature, thus imbuing these carefully crafted objects with a quality of humanness."
Untitled v. 2 (rolled, canvas, cement 01, 02, 03), 2015
Canvas, cement, acrylic medium, wood.
26 x 24 x 16 inches / 19.25 x 23.5 x 34.25 inches / 18.25 x 29.5 x 59.5 inches
Untitled (cheval de frise), 2015
9.25 x 9.25 x 9.25 inches
Ed. 20 (+ 1 A.P. + 4 H.C.)
Untitled v. 2 (2 piles), 2015
Ceramic, cement, aluminum, acrylic medium.
22 x 24 x 2.5 inches
Untitled v. 1 (rolled, canvas, cement 02, 03) detail, 2015
Canvas, cement, acrylic medium.
Untitled v. 1 (stacks with straps), 2015
Canvas, cement, acrylic.
30.5 x 5 x 2 inches
Untitled (flag 931” / flag 961” / flag 1201”), 2015
Wood, parchment almost paper, ink, acrylic spray paint.
931 x 30 inches / 961 x 30 inches / 1201 x 30 inches
Untitled (flag 961”) detail, 2015
Wood, parchment almost paper, ink, acrylic spray paint.
961 x 30 inches
Untitled (sticks, x”), 2015
I fragmented a retired Soviet army tent and created an installation using its most exterior layer as a stage curtain, its second flannel layer for flat wall works made of thousands of scrolls, and its most interior cotton layer for the production of costumes. Phase II of the project was a durational performance where I stamped a traditional Russian embroidery motif onto a roll of rice paper with the fingerprints of the exhibition attendees. The performers, dressed to represent the characters in the aforementioned embroidery design, performed gestures each time a new fingerprint was imprinted onto the paper.
Produced while at Gridchinhall Artist Residency, Moscow, Russia September 2011 to January 2012, organized by Salamatina Gallery, with the support of the Fulbright Program, Institute of International Education.
flying carpet project
Flying Carpet Project was conducted in the spring and summer of 2011 in Spain. I appeared before two groups of children in remote villages of Catalonia and Andalusia with an invitation to participate in a performance workshop where I teach felt-making with local wool in exchange for stories and visits to the “magical” places around the villages of the participants (so as to imbue the carpet with flying capabilities). The resulting pieces of felt were stitched together into carpets (later exchanged between the two schools that hosted the project) by a group of senior women in the villages and ultimately presented in two exhibitions alongside ephemera from the performance workshops, “rolled series” made from local materials, and video documentation of the performance.
Photography: Rosana Camára, Pau Cata Marles, Colin Bloom
n = [phase 1]
This project is inspired by one of the most visually spectacular events in the life of a cell: its division. The 'stage,' which the viewer sees from above is a theater-in-the-round, similar to a microscope stage where the specimens are mounted for examination. The lens of the camera, like the objective lenses of the scientific instrument, observes a ceremony that evokes a network of symbolisms and metaphors. The choreography is reduced to a minimal cartography that sequentially illustrates the movement of each performer through and within the delineated space. Reproduced on transparencies, the drawings fail to provide one with any additional context required to understand the looping, non-linear footage. As a set, these components are part of an equation where the n variable is the unknown.
In collaboration with Sebastian Alvarez (co-direction, co-production, sound, choreography). Photography: Yoni Goldstein, Karina Natis. Lighting: Artem Avakian. Performers: Aaron Maier, Alexine Auriele Haynes, Adam Rose, Brookhart Jonquil, Tommy Heffron, Jordan Scrivner, Andrew Braddock, Surintorn Suanthong, Gerardo Posadas, Mia Potter, Kendall Nelson, Myles Wakefield. Special thanks: Arturo Cubacub and Sarah Weis at icubedhypermedia, Lin Hixson, Christine Tarkowski, Jose Ferreira, Terri Kapsalis, Peter Gena, Lou Mallozi, Irina and Razvan Botea, Ehsan Ghoreishi, Lorena Gómez, Joel Kuennen, Antonio Calleja Lopez, Jason Smith, William, Gabriel and Tara at Sullivan Fabrication Studios, Karina Natis, Tyler Simpson, Sean Lowery, William Amaya, Sandra Nelson, Sandra Posadas, Keith and Barbara Wakefield, Cari Potter.
n = [phase 2]
n = [phase 2 + 1/2]
anatomy is destiny
Image courtesy of the World Chess Hall of Fame
Anatomy is Destiny is based on a score of a chess match written by Arman P. Armand of Marcel Duchamp playing against his alter-ego Rrose Sélavy. In the performance, 32 participants, dressed in specially designed clothing, restricting their movements and thereby defining their roles within the game, battle on the surface of the grid for the title of the winner. After approximately 40 minutes and 40 motions by each side, the match ends in a stalemate. Several ideas overlap in this work: the idea of fate versus free will, the idea of a system destroying itself from within, the dissolution of authorship, and finally the political message contained in the anti-climactic result of the game: two Kings chasing each other on the board for eternity.
Choreography by Davy Bisaro. Sound design by Sebastian Alvarez. Review by Joel Kuennen.