My dear curator...
9 March - 1 April 2006
Wednesday-Friday 12-6, Saturday 12-4
Masha Shubina is a young Ukrainian artist whose paintings and internet adventures explore the lacuna between traditional art practice and modern technology.
It is frequently suggested that the decisive influence on art in the 21st century will be global communications. On the other hand, no-one expects the traditional media - painting for example - to disappear. In the work of Masha Shubina the disparity between these two modes of intercourse - the one instant/virtual, the other leisurely/physical - provokes a to-ing and fro-ing in a sense, a series of negotiations. The outcome is a hybrid art, encompassing both the conventional object-in-space within the gallery and the virtual world of the internet and telecommunications.
Shubina photographs herself in a variety of poses and contexts: standing/lying, alone/with a friend, overdressed/underdressed, straight or with surreal accoutrements. She uses the photographs as the source imagery to make paintings. These paintings she then digitises and exhibits on dating sites on the internet.
The paintings are not photo-realistic, but they are close enough to the photographic source for small versions to be taken for photographs and for surfers to respond to them as such. What takes place, essentially, is a game with popular notions of unmediated reality (represented by the snapshot) and of art and its inherent ‘ideality’ (the painting). The images can pass as standard automated representations of a young woman looking to make contacts - the sort of grungy-yet-self-glamourising snaps that fill the virtual meat-market of sites such as myspace.com - but they are in fact meditated and hand-crafted objects in oil on canvas destined for the gallery space.
Implicit in Shubina’s procedures is the endless evolutionary potential of the image, which metamorphoses from digital snap to print to painting to virtual internet image to ink-jet-on-paper, each iteration or incarnation having its own specific role and authenticity.
The irony implicit in these works is sustained by Shubina’s dating project. Her web ads set out to make the acquaintance not of new friends or lovers but, specifically, of a curator who might advance her career. The failure of this project - Shubina’s exhibitions at Matthew Bown Gallery and also at Bertesca-Masnata, Genoa, are the outcome not of internet meetings but of visits to her gallerist in Moscow - suggests at the very least the limited scope of the internet as a social or business tool and the resilience of traditional forms of interaction.