Critics’ Picks

Daniil Revkovskiy and Andriy Rachinskiy, Noses (detail), 2021, coffee on collage, 47 x 59".

Daniil Revkovskiy and Andriy Rachinskiy, Noses (detail), 2021, coffee on collage, 47 x 59".

Kyiv

Daniil Revkovskiy and Andriy Rachinskiy

Voloshyn Gallery
Tereshchenkivska str. 13,
September 17–October 15, 2021

For “Tailings Dam. Engineer,” the Kharkiv-based duo of Daniil Revkovskiy and Andriy Rachinskiy build on the investigation of the history and heritage of the industrial cities in Eastern Ukraine’s Kryvbas region, which they had embarked on earlier this year in an exhibition at the PinchukArtCentre. In this chapter, the artists take up the partially fictionalized story of an engineer who descended into paranoia after being declared an enemy of the people. As the tale goes, from 1937 to 1944, he hid together with his family in a metallurgical plant on what is now a tailings dam—a kind of man-made reservoir for hazardous mining waste—in Kryvyi Rih. Revkovskyi and Rachinskiy explore the inner workings of the engineer’s mind through a series of five large-scale drawings of the factories made using coffee stains on a collage of pages from found engineering books from the 1920s and ’30s. The title of each imag—Eyes, Hair, Hands, Mouths, and Noses (all works 2021)—derives from an overlaid chart, which compiles a typology of the eponymous body parts, as depicted in Boris Efimov’s caricatures of enemies of the people. These cartoons were originally published in the late 1930s in the Izvestia propaganda newspaper and circulated as a kind of informal phrenology of dissent.

Revkovskyi and Rachinskiy emphasize the fact that the first metallurgical plants in the region were designed in collaboration with American engineers, based upon their drawings or using their equipment. The artists suggest that this might have been sufficient reason for the regime to repress those who had had direct contact with its future opponents in the Cold War. While setting their work in Stalinist times, Revkovskyi and Rachinskiy test the possibilities for protest within the contemporary political landscape, daring viewers to imagine the paranoiac feelings and obsessions such a character might harbor today.