Critics’ Picks

Marina Alekseeva, Kucha Mala (detail), 2010–21, 7-channel video installation.

Marina Alekseeva, Kucha Mala (detail), 2010–21, 7-channel video installation.

Moscow

Marina Alekseeva

Ground Solyanka
Solyanka ulitsa, dom 1/2, str 2 Entrance from Zabelina ulitsa
February 11–March 3, 2022

Kucha Mala,” the idiomatic Russian title of Marina Alekseeva’s new installation of video projects produced between 2010 and 2021, roughly translates into English as “free-for-all,” “pile-on,” or “jumble.” Combining forty works in total—some with a soundtrack, some without one—the installation, uses only seven monitors, whose close proximity renders the origins of the videos’ respective voices impossible to attribute. A jumble is, indeed, what the cacophony of the pieces’ competing sounds, visuals, and narratives quickly coalesces into.

In one of the included videos, a two-person dance party imperceptibly blurs into a flurry of sketched pencil lines. These, in turn, amalgamate into a scene of a man in a doctor’s robe swallowing a hand-drawn flower sprouted by his patient, before transforming into a glass of wine and then merging with his companion into a cartoon-bird shape. Accompanying his metamorphosis are sightings of a crocodile man, pant-seat lizards, and rockets launched from the head. This is the kind of darkly madcap, surrealist un-logic that runs throughout all of the works on view.

The videos are displayed on tablets propped on music stands akin to those used by classical orchestras, emphasizing both the heteroglossia of the manic commingling of sounds and images and the portable, private nature of digital video. And yet, like music, which is assumed to be the most abstract, immediate, and cerebral of all artistic experiences, the proposed analogy here also hints at digital video’s capacity as a medium to dismantle the controlling narrative sequencing characteristic of its celluloid analog, and at its potential to transpose messages into the viewer’s own domain of composition. If at times that may feel like a free-for-all, all the more fun for it.