Vladimir Levashov. A few words about the exhibition
Sergey Sapozhnikov’s House and Garden exhibition is about the most important thing in art: the relations between the artist and the world. Sapozhnikov first conceived of the exhibition in 2020, when Covid restrictions were at their most draconian. We all found our living spaces reduced to the sizes of our own homes and immediate surroundings. Sapozhnikov’s little world became his apartment, stairwell, and the square where he walked his dog. He began to create three connected series of photographs, to which he later gave the overarching title House and Garden. This title has two contrasting intonations: one ironic, the other romantic. The image of the ideal house surrounded by an Edenic garden refers both to the ideals of art of the nineteenth century and to the renowned luxury lifestyle magazine House & Garden. This, however, is all only rather tenuously related to the life of a contemporary photo artist in Rostov-on-Don.
At any rate, the series of photographs taken by Sapozhnikov form a convincing picture of his individual world: at once hermetically sealed and, paradoxically, universal. By illuminating the interior of his apartment with coloured lamps and photographing it from unexpected perspectives, Sapozhnikov turns an ordinary home into a stage set. The windows of the stairwells in his photographs look like the promise of a tempting future. The black and white photographs seem to transform the local square into an Edenic garden.
And then came the time of the exhibition.
Photographs, as we know, conserve movement and stop time, encasing the world in a flat depiction and preserving remote moments of an uncertain past. The exhibition installation returns space and real time to reality, restoring it in a new form constructed entirely by the artist. Sapozhnikov’s reality is a triple world, set inside a single architectural exhibition object. We perceive this object as a closed universe within
Inside is a concentrically arranged structure. The Threshold is a space of entry and exit, containing the zone of the apartment interior, while the very heart of this world house is the Garden sphere. The Garden is transformed from an external space into the innermost, most secret part of the House, as though it were the House’s soul.
Architecture and photography are not the only tools used by Sapozhnikov to construct his personal world. They form the basis for the exhibition, its space and its structure, while video, sound, and theatrical narrative enrich them with air and dynamics, providing the shell with plot and substance and raising its degree of emotionality. This was achieved through Sapozhnikov’s collaboration with the composer and performer Alexey Khevelev, and with the theatre director Dmitriy Tsupko, who, after long discussions with Sapozhnikov, created a series of rich video and audio sequences which immerse the viewer in an “internal Odyssey” of the artist and his lyrical hero.
Animated in this way, the shell of the exhibition is prepared for another performance, in which the main participants are the viewers themselves. We, the viewers, are the final, absolutely necessary element that completes the organism of the exhibition, that gives life to the House and Garden.