Landscapisms of Anastasia Bogomolova

Landscapisms of Anastasia Bogomolova

Anna Legotina
Anna Legotina

In this abundance of forms the main thing stands out - the created evidence of previously unexplored celestial bodies meeting the earth.

The artist’s role reduced to creating a compelling copy of natural forms - the pattern of branches, spots of green bushes, the contours of a windbreak. Through imitation, she created an event for the place.

Before Anastasia Bogomolova was present in a variety of landscapes: cultural (Lookbook project), material (Landscape I and Landscape II), historical (“Bakal”), the landscape of personal (Recall) and collective memory (“To grow from the grass I love”). Having gone through seemingly all anthropogenic variations, now the artist turns to a natural landscape – to territories, which hold no memories. Anastasia Bogomolova explores these landscapes and picks up the traces of the events she created there. In the projects “Under the Dome” and “Assemblage” the invented artistic situations, which were installed in a real landscape, have turned public geo points into personal ones.

“There is an event – but no evidence, or how the story of a meteorite fall can be responsibly reflected in an art project” – that’s what the newspaper headlines could say about “Under the Dome”. Responsibly is perhaps the key word in Anastasia Bogomolova’s practice, she does not leave a phrase unfinished or facts unproven. But what if there is just no evidence?

The project was launched after a meteorite fell into the Lake Chebarkul in the Chelyabinsk region on February 15, 2013. In flight, the superbolide disintegrated and left behind numerous traces, and the fact of its landing was recorded by a huge number of video and dash cameras. It was recognized as the most documented case of a celestial body falling on earth in recent history. However, a scientific research may rely on a set of evidence, but not an artistic one.

After having experienced a personal encounter with a meteorite in situ, Anastasia Bogomolova plunged into the study of similar events and their evidence in the past. Scrappy data indicated that the earliest mentions of such cases in these places date back to the late 19th century. The number of facts documented on paper is enormous, but there are no traces imprinted in the landscape of the Chelyabinsk region at all.

In search for the supposed places, where space objects met the earth, the artist walked around a huge territory on foot. She checked every possible point that reminded, or could remind of past events. By means of land art, performance and documentation, her assumptions transformed into evidence. The artificially created non-footprints became real footprints that were pressed in a sterile landscape and turned into indisputable arguments. Albeit at the same time, they remained an “event-without-a fact”. The artist followed her inner sense of the place: like a pilgrim, she consistently walked around the points of falls, reconstructed the conditions of possible incidents, artistically appropriated and recorded them.

The project “Under the Dome” plays upon an image of a glass dome shattered by a touch of a meteorite: the integrity is broken, and the protection seems to be lost. The exhibition under the same name, which commemorated the fifth anniversary of the meteorite fall, was held in 2018 in the Chelyabinsk gallery of modern art “OkNo”. It featured a variety of mediums – from documentary installations, repeating real and typical destruction of ceilings, to sculptural metal objects of broken, distorted forms. In this abundance of forms the main thing stands out – the created evidence of previously unexplored celestial bodies meeting the earth. According to the artist, it is useless to wait for an even larger and more significant event in life than the fall of a celestial body, nothing can surpass it.

Exploring “events-without-a fact” does not seem like a daunting task compared to a “place-without-event”. The “Assemblage” project, at first called “Periods”, began with self-portraits in the thicket. In the images, the thickets literally swallowed a human being, the bushes devoured the body, the trees split it, leaving separate fragments of svelte female naked flesh visible. The artist’s role reduced to creating a compelling copy of natural forms – the pattern of branches, spots of green bushes, the contours of a windbreak. Through imitation, she created an event for the place.

Intuitive “landscape-portraits” gradually turned into a project about merging with nature, immersing her body in a special environment and its temporary mutation. And if there are no obvious traces of a meteorite fall in the “Under the Dome”, then the landscapes of “Periods” recall no events at all. Except those that Anastasia Bogomolova created with her body.

What happened in the forest stayed there for a long time, but suddenly “Periods” turned into the “Assemblage”. Shootings in the natural landscape were mixed with studio photos, imitation became fusion, and artistic retroflection replaced artistic mimicry, when the author became an object of her work.

In the spring of 2020, due to universal travel restrictions, Anastasia Bogomolova was locked up in the Shishim Hill residence in Yekaterinburg. The isolation that she happily embraced gave her have some private time for the “Periods” project. In the studio new levels of adhesion were discovered: nature suddenly became closer, the forest penetrated the artist’s body and replaced some of its parts.

In “Assemblage” the artist crops her self-portraits and dashingly rebuilds them, leaving only the body parts she needs. They are devoid of clear gender indications: “these images are no longer sexy,” says the artist. But the sprouts pierced her skin! Her body is sprouting with branches and twigs, it gets covered with bark and moss more and more, mushrooms pop up somewhere. The forest and its environment again absorb the figure, only now permeating its entire essence from head to toe. This is how the main landscape is studied – Self Identity. 

The updated project retained its main features – tactility and accompanying corporeality, performativity, literal and emotional immersion in the material. By renaming the project Anastasia Bogomolova clarified the new content, which is consonant with her today. “Periodic” penetrations into nature happened according to similar scenarios: the forest would devour the artist’s body, break it, rebuild it, hide it in their thickets, the mountains would crush or stretch it. In these fusions, the artist repeatedly became part of the landscape, merged with it and, it seems, her outlines faded. Albeit paradoxically, it was at the moment of physical body erasure that Anastasia Bogomolova became visible.

/ By assemblage (a concept taken from biology) Anastasia Bogomolova presupposes “a group of organisms belonging to a number of different species that occur in the same environment and interact through trophic and spatial relationships”. But the term equally appropriately defines the project and assemblage as a form of art – a method of volumetric collage, which unites elements of different materials, textures, colors – and also further more – of different origin and state in one work. /

In the two ongoing projects “Under the Dome” and “Assemblage”, the artist abandons the familiar topics of memory and archive. Today she does not interpret the story of Another, but she experiences an event, invented or real. There are no more “landscapes” of an educated person, there is no more research into particular facts, a landscape remains a landscape, as the premonition and feeling become the main tools for research.