Isabelle Meskhichvili (Belka)

In a aesthetic logics inherited from American artists Wesslmann, Rosenquist or Richard Hamilton, the neo pop series of Belka Meskhichvili – called Belka – use free associations. A concept enrolled in the line of Russian Sots art of the seventies or still the Transversalisme – a current appeared at the FIAC 2004 that in this critical vein substitutes the society of peoplelisation to this of the consumption.

Collages stériles, that’s how she calls them. Situated in between the photography and serigraphy, her work uses digital technologies in order to harmonise the heteroclite aspect of the collage. Maliciously based on the principles of propaganda, her kitsch look at contradictions of chaotic world comes from the archetypes of popular Russian and world culture. Mixing together sociopolitics and spectacle, a system whose impertinence confronts history to the collective imagination of the Soviet symbols, makes them clatter together in order to better dilute in internationalist values that, no doubt, have no reason to be jealous. Sociological perspectives allowing a sudden appearance of a discourse made of distortion.

As a framework for these assemblies, the star with five points that is used by the artist as a reference is neither from the North, nor from the South. The star, a universal symbol that even though identifiable in major lines, holds here in principle only to her fragmented structure. A star with variable geometry indeed enrolled under the sign of a Soviet star with an ironic reference to the flag of the Eastern block. The ambiguity is that in counterpoint this ancestral symbol appeals to the Western values as well as to the American flag.

A cut out painting, stylised, a broken mirror with a value of a hole in a padlock made to be looked into. Inside these cutting volumes pulsates an organised life. Post surrealistic gaps that give pertinence to demagogic and populist aberrations. Inside, in a synergy made of anachronisms thus appear playlets, iconoclastic rereadings of history manhandling the politically correct with, on the first plan the shadow of Soviet leaders: Lenin, Stalin, Marx… Especially Stalin, Georgia’s tyrant baby, made up for the occasion into transformist Joconde. Following them appears in cohort the spectre of “education” praised by totalitarian regimes, as it appears in Ver, Nadegder, Lubov, ou encore Micha, teddy bears becoming paternalistic archetypes of the Soviet ogre. But this frightening untitled work especially attracts our attention. We see a platform on which a crowd is waiting for a train with sealed wagons. A train that has still not entered the station but that will soon transport unaware passengers to what is waiting them. With on the left a cynic counterbalance, a statistic table comparing the Jewish population in European countries before and after Holocaust.

In this sociological rear-view mirror with a value of a microscope thus mortifies a broth of cultures made out of the symbols from the past. A manner with salutary reflections on sense and the use of signs, as well as on the collective imagination.

Stéphan Lévy-Kuenz