Text from catalogue "b-meetings", 2012

Aljoscha's Objects Travel Around the World

Sometimes they appear to be living beings, even though it is more than clear that they are actually sculptures made of silicone, the form of which is determined by an inner structure, that is to say by a kind of skeleton. Yet with this choice of words, one automatically thinks of living creatures, because, of course, animals and human beings have skeletons that support their bodies. Aljoscha's objects are derived from painting; originally (and in some cases even today, with the very small works), it was dried oil paint on the artist's palette, which grew into the first sculptures, two to three centimetres high at the most.

The viewer quickly associates the 'growth' of the sculptures with that of lower plants, such as lichens,  or sees them as being the result of synthetic biology. Such associations are, of course, possible; and they are not completely false, but they do somehow miss the point behind the creative processes, within which art is created. Aljoscha's objects are subject to a structural design; they are complex forms, which are modelled according to a pre-existing concept, and are thus the fruit of artistic decisions and not the result of natural growth processes influenced by environmental conditions. The premeditated harmony and the technical execution lead to a unique character for each sculpture. The artist himself speaks of “the invention of form as being”, as though the objects led lives of their own. And to all intents and purposes, they do; this is easy to understand when they go on journeys – but more on this later.

Paint and silicone have neither the rigidity nor the stability to allow filigree forms of a certain size to overcome the force of gravity. This is why the modelling of the inner support structure is the decisive phase for the eventual final form of the object. In most cases, we are dealing here with bent steel wire or – as with the 'travelling beings' that participate in artistic actions – lighter aluminium structures that can be screwed together. Silicone is applied to these skeletons layer for layer –  in a certain sense like flesh on bones, to keep within the metaphor of nature. The dabbing of the precisely pigmented silicone by all means corresponds with the process of painting, including the phases of pausing to allow the material to dry.

Aljoscha also draws, highly detailed (he studied mathematics and statistics in the Ukraine), but always only when the sculptures are already finished; the results are, in a certain sense, portraits of his three-dimensional works. In the planning stage, he requires no sketches, and the fleeting nature of such preparatory sketches does not correspond with his extremely slow, but therefore secure working process. Each detail, each stage of the ongoing process, is only realised when it is clear that the respective next step is indeed the right one. Thus, in the artist's studio, several objects always evolve simultaneously – the analogies to nature, called into question above, remain irrefutably present, because the game of deception between culture and nature is a vital element within Aljoscha's oeuvre.

In this book, one sees Aljoscha's sculptures in many everyday situations: they simply stand there as though someone forgot them; adults are astonished by the presence or children play with them. The objects confront the real world, which is only possible when art, as here, is taken out of the studio, out of the gallery or the museum and brought into the much heralded “public space”. Today, art is generally viewed within the tradition of modernity as something autonomous that takes place outside normal life, that is to say within a kind of protection zone, which however simultaneously minimises the relevance of art within daily life.  This protection zone, both in the positive and negative sense, no longer exists when works of art are literally placed on the street. The photographs in this book document these encounters; they are, however, not works of art in and of themselves. The actions, on the other hand, with which Aljoscha stages his objects in public spaces and provokes reactions among the passers-by, belong to the art historical tradition of performances, which were especially important in the 1960s and 1970s and are currently experiencing a renaissance.  When a group of white objects are placed on the bank of the Rhine in Düsseldorf between trees uprooted by a storm, then a few promenaders and their dogs might might be amused, but presumably very little else happens. But the situation with fishermen in India or the white robed Santería followers in Cuba is very different: the reactions range from anxious to curious, indifference and even aggressive. In these situations, Aljoscha's objects summon up their complete potential, since, in addition to their sculptural attributes, their communicative qualities are also revealed. It is a time-honoured desire on the part of artists to achieve something special with their works of art, to be truly perceived in life and to radiate even beyond the exhibition space – in this book, the viewer can see how this can indeed be achieved.

Georg Elben