MYK is a Russian interdisciplinary art group based in Siberia, Russia.
The group was born in 2019 and is formed by Evgeny Lemeshonok, Vladimir Bocharov, Polina Kardymon, and Denis Frank. Later on, Sergei Chekhov also joins the group.
It is difficult to place the group in an artistic category or in a main means of expression, they express themselves from performance to theatre, to sound installations, to drawing to painting. Perhaps this is their strength and power, the total rethinking of a system in which they have no place.
Chambre Fluide: Hello! Let's start talking about the art group: Who is MYK? Could you tell us more about how the collective was born?
MYK: Hello! MYK is an art group formed by Evgeny Lemeshonok, Vladimir Bocharov, Polina Kardymon, and Denis Frank.
We united in the spring of 2019 when we decided to create an exhibition Open Field, before the exhibition we worked on the play Fragments of a Love Speech at the Globus Theater, but that time Polina acted as a director and Denis, Zhenya, and Vova - Were part of a sound art group called presidiomodelo.
Now we are in five. Indeed, not so long, the director Sergei Chekhov joined us, and in this composition, we released the most resonating project in the city Limit at the metro station Ploshchad Garina-Mikhailovsky.
We are linked to the theatre but we have united also because we were not satisfied with the theater institution, and by the system as a whole. We want to create an environment of horizontal connections in which we will do interdisciplinary projects.
All of our already created projects are aimed exactly at this. We called us "artists" and we adhere to the general name "artist", but we came from different backgrounds.
CF: Can you talk about your personal relationship with your country, Russia? What role does the community have for you?
SEREZHA: Yes, in Russia everything is interesting. Because it's clear that we are constantly in reflections and mental opposition to all the political and social discourse we have in our country.
At the same time, now, I feel part of Russia, and it’s not about patriotism, not about love for your homeland, it’s about the fact that I, as a small part of the whole, I have all the signs of this whole. It seems I appear clumsy, inflexible, and embittered as this country. But I finally realized that it's not me as a country, but a country like me. That is, I make a country like that. In general, we have a separate inability to articulate a political agenda in art. We have absorbed some disgust for this topic as if it were reprehensible to engage in political art. It seems that now is the time to powerfully recombine and reassemble these ideas, and to enter the space of a completely new principle of politically in art, tied primarily to creating an environment that is different from the institutional one, and provoking through this a new sensory experience, the experience of personal emancipation in the field of one's own inner lack of freedom.
ZHENYA: In Russia, there seem to be three positions, like: "I am with the state", "I am against the state", and "I am digging tunnels". Our position is to dig tunnels.
Under the ground, there is a bit of air, a little light, a few other resources, but it is this system of underground communications that gives rise to true complexity and meaningfulness. Our potential community could be like lone diggers in helmets with flashlights. But remembering Roald Dahl and his magnificent Mr. Fox, strength is in complex underground communications and when we get to the bottom of each other and unite into a network, then probably the realization of a single field will come, unity field which exists in itself, exists outside the system of the state, and this field is real Russia.
In the meantime, the real Russia is underground and we must continue to dig with flashlights on our foreheads.
CF: What do you mean when in the description of your way of proceeding you say you want to eliminate boundaries and artificial structures, and what are these barriers for you to eliminate?
ZHENYA: “Eliminate” is not the right word. It is more about effective rethinking, in the conventional art, there are established systems of relationships, between the artist and the state, between the artist and the customer (which is often the same thing), between the artist and an artist, (there is a long list), and so, all these systems already exist and have proven their (sorry) efficiency many thousand times, but the world does not stand still, which means it requires more and more new systems, sometimes they cancel old ones, and sometimes they confirm their correctness, everything is in progress.
CF: How does your research develop? Where do you collect your inspiration from?
POLINA: Due to the lockdown, we have suspended our activities and are developing new projects, for example, MYK Theater is a multi-part online project in which we go on an expedition to a specific point in the city, record sounds and videos unique to this place and create in the future, the audiovisual work of our feelings and words from this place on the map of the city, and now a video project Temple of Noise is being prepared.
We placed the art object The Spirit of Noise in the 107-year-old tunnel-overpass, and through this gesture, we created the space of the mythical city temple. In November, we plan to open an exhibition for bacteria colonized by us named "Contact", for each colony of bacteria, a picture will be painted and its own sound environment will be created.
CF: MYK conceives the work in space at 360 degrees. Is there, in your performances, an intention of involvement and participation by the audience, or does it remain a theatrical representation where you operate as if on a stage aimed at an observant audience? What is the relationship with the viewer, the spectator?
VOVA: We thought the viewer as a full participant and co-creator of our works. However, this is true only in the case the viewer shows active sensual and intellectual attention and is not just an observer.
The total participation and the immersion of the viewer and the public in our performances and works is our goal.
We want the viewer to be free to choose whether to get involved or not. For example, in the "Limit project", we provided the viewer with the opportunity to physically join the process, to become direct accomplices of what is happening. However, we didn't call for this directly, so as not to control the behavior of the viewer, but only provided him with space for his own discoveries, we want the spectator to make personal decisions.
CF: What importance does sound have in your works?
ZHENYA: Art and artists play the same role as always, they create media entities, invent names for new phenomena or reinterpret old ones, connect concepts, mix colors and postulate forms, put scattered sounds into structures, expand the boundaries of harmonies. But the new artists also faced a new challenge - interdisciplinarity, we must look at Leonardo da Vinci as a reference and be artists in the broadest sense of the word. Therefore, music for us is literally everything: it is color, it is formed, it is construction, it is meaning and, of course, sound.
VOVA: Sound, as the most non-linear and flexible instrument of influence, is indeed one of the cornerstones in our works.
DENIS: No sound may be heard, but that doesn't mean that nothing sounds. Sound paints in the air and permeates everything around. Sometimes the sound shows you the way, sometimes you show the way for the sound.
CF: Let’s talk about Open Field. What inspired this work? What do the elements inside the installation represent?
POLINA: The main theme of the Open Field exhibition is crampedness. In the art space LAB4DRAM we liked the many narrow passages and openings, so we, starting from the space, decided to take two locations far from each other and fully master them.
It was then that the idea appeared to create an environment for works and objects, not placing them in the context of an exhibition hall, but letting them live in their microcosm, with their own laws.
The audience moved from one room to another several time to add and complete their meanings, someone left after two approaches, and someone remained to wander until closing time. In the first White Room location, the center of the exposition was a cube into which one could enter, each face of the cube meant different parts of the cramped: art/relationship/self/society. Inside the cube, there were texts written by automatic writing associated with themes, and there was also a sound environment in which all these texts were crumbled and mixed.
The room inside the White Room was called The Soul in it the walls were covered with automatic text, lines from books, songs, phrases, films, and from this stream of texts there are feet came out onto a single wooden ledge and walked into another opening - Behind the soul there the work with the basic states within itself slowly revolved and the water from the aquarium glittered.
The second location of the exhibition was about the artist's crampedness but without the personal “I”.
There a stooped giant was painted on the entire wall, empty one tone painted canvases, surrounded by a huge number of sketches all around with sitting, standing, and lying characters of Zhenya's sketches. It was the artist's crampedness, who is unable to fit any of the sketches into the canvas. There was a foil glued to the entire wall, like a molten mirror, and on the floor, there were jars in which the broken mirror was preserved. There was a portal In the center of the exposition in which the character from the sketches seemed to leave the cramped space, but in fact, stood still and behind it, all watched by a giant who never escaped from the box.
The Open Field exhibition, as the first joint work of the group, allowed us to define the basic principles of creating works:
1. Not forced participation of the viewer in the space (those who interesting allow themselves to go inside, touch, sound, but we don't leave any prompts for this, the viewer himself must discover the border of the entrance).
2. To comprehend the space, not to create works outside the context of the place in which we are doing the project.
3. Due to the co-participation of the viewer and the artist, dramaturgy, theme, and over theme are arising and all this begins to work according to the principle of theater. As an art group, we create not a complete thought, but emptiness, into which the viewer can place his meanings, plots, and experiences as if he examines the Rorschach Inkblot.
CF: What role do art and artists play in society nowadays? How has that changed as the scope of what art is and what it looks like has also changed?
ZHENYA: The twentieth century, in fact, is only engaged in what expands the boundaries of the narrative, breaks linearity, and opens isolation. The twenty-first century continues to work on these glorious tasks.
SEREZHA: In my view, today we live in a completely new world in this sense, because, one way or another, now we can call almost every second person in the world an artist, if not more. The ubiquitous availability of technology, new ways of communication and self-presentation have given each of us the tools for placing ourselves in a public space, for constant interaction with each other and with the world around us, through the independent creation of forms of this interaction,
through the creation of this or that content, and so on... And to be true, from my point of view, in reality, we have no objective criteria for attributing: art and non-art. And it turns out that there is no longer any "society of the spectacle", but now there is some kind of society of performance and endless participation. And in this regard, a completely new level of our confusion arises, because what then is the role of the artist, if everyone around is artists.
What then is our necessity and the nature of the activity. And in this spread, of course, it is simply necessary to reassemble oneself, to discover not just new formats, but a fundamentally different philosophy of interaction with those whom we used to call spectators, and indeed, with the surrounding reality.