The feeling of tension and disharmony that first appeared in the Bluebeard project (2010) returns in the works of the Non-Accidental Encounters series. The emotions caused by a failed relationship and an attempt to find a new self at a new stage in life are all palpable here.
Ms. Fedorova remains faithful to her cinematic approach, and one of the film characters that resonates most with her mood is that of Elizabeth McGraw, played by Kim Basinger in the cult erotic melodrama 9 1⁄2 Weeks (1986). In Kim, using her favourite colours (red, white, and black), Ms. Fedorova revisits one of the most recognizable scenes from the film. The Artist augments the painted canvas with a sketchy pencilled fragment: next to Basinger’s character, an image of a male hand appears holding an upturned cup which drips either coffee or blood. The disproportionately large size of the hand, its unusual angle and the red colour of the drawing add touches of surrealism. The painting channels implicit danger.
Sketch-like drawings appear in other paintings from the series as well, perfectly accentuating the Artist’s polished painting style. The right side of the Green Light also turns into a drawing: once again we see a man’s hands, ostensibly hurrying the female protagonist up by pointing to a watch. Male characters appear in this series in the form of ephemeral shadows – either as such drawn fragments, as a dark silhouette of a stranger walking into the distance (Way), or as Plexiglas figures.
Continuing her experiments from the time of the Gates and Doors exhibition at the Russian Museum, Ms. Fedorova once again introduces three-dimensional objects into the project. A man’s figure made of transparent plastic and touched by only a few strokes of black paint turns into a ‘graphic sculpture’. It simultaneously plays the roles of a silent visitor to the exhibition and a dispassionate observer who remains indifferent to the suffering of the heroines of the series.
The project focuses on the recurring motif of a torn chest with bloody butterflies flying out. It is repeated over and over – in paintings, drawings, and a complex multi-component installation (Bloody Butterflies). Made of plastic, the butterflies are suspended in front of a picture showing a dissected torso of a girl. The painted butterflies merge with the red translucent ones of the installation, as well as with the flashes and shadows they cast, embodying suffering, pain and loneliness.
In several works, the artist turns to pop art imagery, combining her female characters with everyday objects like a kettle or a coffee maker (Kettle, Coffee Machine). The eternal theme of self-identification in a hostile world and stereotypical gender roles is addressed here in an ironic manner. The feelings of female loneliness, humiliation, loss and devaluation find a counterpoint in the atmosphere of invincible female grace, refined taste, impeccable style, and alluring mystery.
Anastasia Karlova, Ph.D.
Curator of the Department of Contemporary Art, State Russian Museum,