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Alexander Zhyvotkov. MOTHERBOARD

October 10, 2015 - February 25, 2016


MOTHERBOARD is a rather pretty word firmly entrenched in computer slang in most countries. In Russian “materinka” or “materinskaya plata” are inexcusably a part of all things digital. So where does the very much analogue Zhyvotkov enter the picture? If you separate “mother” from “board” you get Zhyvotkov’s favorite medium – the board. One doesn’t need to attempt interpreting the “mother” part since the “mother board” becomes a rather literal description of the 13 works that weight in at 650 pounds and constitute the artists new 2015 cycle.

The game of translation, interpretation and adoption is necessary and inevitable. The sum of meanings (and sounds) widens both the meaning and the space to fit in all the 13 boards. They are many, they are heavy and large. It is curiously uncomfortable even to imagine how much electricity Zhivotkov used cutting them with his saw. Together with his own energy a certain avalanche is created. The avalanche of «mums», «wenches», «maidens» in the artist’s own very softly and affectionately anunciated terms.

It would be laughable to attempt an art critics’ interpretation of the «Motherboard». This avalanche can force anything on anyone should you come close. The synonymous series – “motherboard”, “mums”, “women” – is nothing more than and attempt at coherence in the face of the elements. 

The energy to create these pieces has been collecting in Zhyvotkov over the years when he was developing his new technique, something between painting and bas-relief. The outline of a woman’s head – a line that the artist found in his youth is one of Zhyvotkov’s archetypal themes as are the road, the pigeon, and the window. Zhyvotkov has been making them for over 30 years changing seemingly little – the method and the medium. He moves from pencil to saw, from paper to board.

Had Zhyvotkov been a poet, this evolution would have fit Brodsky’s formula: «a poets evolution is the evolution of his prosody». To simplify roughly, it’s the evolution of the verse size. This formula ignores the meaning considering it a nature or god given constant, whichever is more comfortable to the reader. A constant nonetheless. This stability of meaning echoes the constants in science ever present in every theory and law. Zhyvotkov’s constants are the road, the pigeon, the woman and the window. Their origin is unexplainable much like their presence is immutable.

When we get to the pigeons, we can think of their immutable presence in the picture of the world. The «Motherboard» presents a simpler problem. Let’s forget the feminine truisms and notice how Zhyvotkov’s women are angular outlines, almost as if cut with an axe and burned by primal fire, with no personality, reproductive attractiveness or sacred “godliness”, possessing no humanity. If anything, they seem to be cut out of the Arc pieces with the only honest possibility for the artist – to be a pair.

Whose pair? Good question…

Konstantin Donin



October 10, 2015
February 25, 2016
Event Categories:


White Space
Bohdana Khmelnytskogo 62B
Kyiv, Ukraine


Stedley Art Foundation
+380 67 466 78 00, +380 63 376 53 43
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