This is big big big

This is small small small

March, 15 — March, 29 2020

Katerina Sokolovskaya and Carla Chaim

Recognizing, pointing, repeating — trying to bargain an anti-anxiety drug, local anesthesia. Nursery rhyme as a way to call things and their features by their proper names. We thought that we already exist in the post-pandemic time and are capable of making some clear conclusions about the new reality, but it seems that the situation is quite different. It is impossible to talk retrospectively about the world in economic, social, and biopolitical terms. The present is happening right now and changing in front of us. Therefore, the best we can do is to indicate the properties of the fragments of the present, thus avoiding the anxiety that they do not come together in a clear whole.

Katerina Sokolovskaya and Carla Chaim show how and where anxiety grows. Without a human being. As another object. The duo-project is based on the question of relationship between body and space; and broadly — between all real things. Different in their aesthetics, but close in ideology, artists reproduce the so-called “sensual objects”. They indicate places of the pre/post/extra- contact tension. According to Graham Harman, things never relate to each other directly but they can contact via sensual objects. We can imagine them as a third that appears between two real objects. But what if we remove the real objects and leave only the sensual ones? Something deliberately sharp, something deliberately huge, strange, torn off. Withdrawal of the bodies-things, we will have to stop in front of what is left and repeat: “this is big big big, and this is small small small”.

Like two Alices in Wonderland, the artists throw into the space terrifying bizarre toys: huge eyes, sharp icicles, spider eyelashes, a six-armed beetle and a message-cypher: handprints. But the essence of these things is not surreal. All these toys found themselves not in the imagination and not in the subconscious, but in the plane of the objective world, alongside with the walls and ceiling of the gallery, tables, chairs, and bodies of guests. Katya and Сarla create surfaces, bring sensual artefacts out of the rabbit holes. Fear can run away from us like a white rabbit, delight can grow above us like a big mushroom, and doubt can flood everything around with restless waters.

Katerina Sokolovskaya (b. 1988, Minsk) is an artist-sculptor. After graduating from the Stieglitz Academy (St. Petersburg), she wondered what contemporary sculpture might look like.  She moves toward the answer through performance and body practices. The artist looks into the body, listens to the different parts, and begins to divide it — arms, legs, head, eyes, etc.  When you look at a part — the attention becomes concentrated, the feeling intensifies, and then it seems that you can better understand what is happening now. And therefore you can be a sculptor in whose hands the bodies are constellations of knots of attention; it migrates, builds up, and falls off into space in its “major folds”.


The heads are resting on pedestals. Severed or torn off. From a human or humanoid. Glass eyelashes-spiders creep out of the eye sockets, spikes-«evil tongues” stick out from the mouth. They are the spokesmen for strong feelings: anger and grief. Although the artist does not offer precise explanations: “something comes out of them, but it is not so important”. Indeed, it is not so important what these emotions are, their materiality matters.


In the center of the hall, the eyes are frightening, scary, large. They are hypertrophied, they are insane, like a huge mushroom, or like the smile of a Cheshire cat (without the cat itself). They mean a place where there is tension and stretching of matter, where a smile can come off the muzzle, eyes from the face, and become separate objects inside a liberated non-hierarchical void.

Carla Chaim (b. 1984, São Paulo) works with performance and body in a classical way. Her own body is often the main medium in her practice. She places herself in a relationship with objects and space — taking measurements, marking segments, leaving traces. Her practice is directly related to the political situation in Brazil. “Since the last elections, there is a neo-liberalism that reigns vile and fascist<…> There is an overt necropolitics that becomes increasingly powerful and dictates, socially and politically, who should live and who should die”. The regime becomes the basis for seeking freedom through one’s body and manifesting freedom. Flags, slogans, manifestos visually bind her practice.

somatu (from Portuguese: “add you”, “add you”)

The key word for understanding Carla’s works presented at the exhibition is “choreography.” In the video — choreography as a mixture of bodies and movements, in painting — choreography of the body that leaves a trace. These operations are the actions of the depersonalized body. Nowhere is it identical with itself as a thing and a unit. One creature equals three dancers. One imprint to how many hand movements?

The artist wants to avoid any precise definition of the body, showing it through traces — social and political gestures. They express the tension between the real and the sensual body — one bound by biopolitical instruments, irreducible to any binaries sensual object.