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The Black zone

The Black Zone project is a series of ceramic objects in the shape of white dumplings covered with Gzhel-style prison tattoos on a bed of barbed wire.


The ceramic series is a visual figurative metaphor about the split in society that escalated during the period of isolation of the USSR. The title of the work "Black Zone" refers to the Soviet correctional facilities, in which everything is built on the concepts of thieves and prison laws. Here, for many decades, there has been a strict classification of convicts into peculiar groups (as they say in the zone, suits), it is considered “zapadlo” to cooperate with the administration of such a colony. 


The modern international political context, in which everything related to Russia, including Russian culture (traditional Russian dish and  folk craft of blue and white ceramics) is positioned as a malicious violator of world order, imprisoned in a correctional colony. The “black” zone, where its own system of social self-identification functions. 


Body painting was used by the criminal world as a means of communication and a carrier of information. According to the tattoos, the prisoners divided the world into "us" and "them". Similarly, each sculpture from the series is made with a characteristic set of tattoos and symbolizes a representative of the suit in the zone: "godfather", "man", "goat" and "rooster". Suits differ from each other by prison status, rights and concepts. 


The body of prisoners covered with tattoos is primarily a linguistic object. Tattoo is a symbolic narrative that conveys, according to oral tradition, the rules for reading them. The folklore of convicts uses at first glance familiar allegorical images (a naked woman, stars, eyes, a snake, abbreviations, and so on) to convey a secret symbolic meaning.


Thus, the visual arts of the criminal world become a sign of social reflection and collective memory, which presents a whole code of laws that gives their bearer the rules of his behavior for the future and the rules for interpreting his past. The work "The Black Zone" invites viewers, with the curiosity of an attentive observer, to speculate about the system of relationships characteristic of the thieves' world, which have become a model of society as a whole.

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