Critics’ Picks

Anna Jermolaewa, Der Weg nach oben (The Way Up), 2008, still from a color video, 7 minutes.

Anna Jermolaewa, Der Weg nach oben (The Way Up), 2008, still from a color video, 7 minutes.

Moscow

Anna Jermolaewa

XL Gallery
4 Syromyatnicheskiy Lane, 1 Building 6
October 20–November 22, 2009

This solo exhibition by the Vienna-based Russian artist Anna Jermolaewa offers a single video projection: Der Weg nach oben (The Way Up), 2008, which shows a group of rats trapped inside a glass cage in an animal market in Mexico City. Restrained in this small space, the rodents ruthlessly try to climb upward and look for escape, one above and against the other, in desperation. By capturing this distressing and claustrophobic scene, Jermolaewa turns a seemingly commonplace aspect of everyday life into a revealing moment with multiple meanings. On the one hand, she makes the viewer a witness to cruelty. On the other, she draws attention to the rats’ physical and social structures and their similitude to those of humans. Perhaps the rats in this work are used to exalt aspects of our own identity, since we live in a modern society but are hardwired with an animal consciousness. The Way Up might be considered, then, as a choreography of survival attempts of the day-to-day variety in our not-so-human environment.