If everyone is inked & synched to everyone else, the secret must be the circuit, right?
Born in Taganrog, a scrappy Russian port city of 250,000 on the northern Sea of Azov, Masha Rudenko is a conceptual artist working across all media and disciplines: drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance. Like Anton Chekhov – master of the chilly, mood-swinging chamber drama in three, tempestuous acts (and to date, Taganrog’s most notable cultural exponent) – Rudenko’s whole body of work fairly hisses with a gritty, glacial realism in a not-so-steady state of equipoise.
It pays to be impromptu; provisional – given to spasms of unfashionable conviction constantly in search of a phone booth.
A shape-shifting chameleon, Rudenko is a woman on her own verge – interested in the frontier of her own body as a site of disruption and inscription; a virtual battlemap, that is, where lines are drawn and then redrawn, and drawn yet again. Any overriding ethos to be gleaned from viewing her work, then, pretty much boils down to this: More light. Less heat. Rolling thunder with hardly an intimation of the lightning that is to come. Puerto Eureka.
The unsub is de-gloved, and still the girl was struck anew.
Ecstasy (what it tastes like; what it looks like; how shall it be performed?) is Rudenko’s subject matter and signal obsession – her whiter shade of whale. Indeed, the only grail. As such, she specializes in depicting the alter-ego in extremis: the phase-change, the body-snatch, the replicant’s sweet revenge. She is pursued by demons of accuracy and precision in this regard; certain low-grade patricidal impulses animate her work. The Oedipal gist of which is: Sherman, Samaras, Morimura – later, Nikki S. Lee. Likely some others. (Does Sacha Baron Cohen count? Where does one draw the line?) These are the archangels that will remain anonymous. AA.
If you want to know how prototypes become archetypes, and the icon offers itself up for sacrifice to the iconoclast’s fist, you would do well to study Chekhov’s moves.
And so she did.
For Rudenko, identity is a lot like Etch-a-Sketch – that much more molten & liquid; a palimpsest from the jump. Race, class, gender, talent, courage, cunning ... all the aspirational protocols and resplendent tendencies that made for a packed zoo of better yous, was just another discourse in fluid dynamics for Rudenko. Anyone can throw their own voice; ventriloquists do it all the time. But can they throw their own face? Can you? Remember: she can wiggle out of it. Shake it and she’s gone. Shatter herself.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ben Cope
MAKE-UP: Carly Salzman
C 2017 Masha Rudenko