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Complaints & Roads at BIFE bar

Solo exhibition project “Complaints & Roads” at BIFE bar, Belgrade, Serbia.

One more attempt to explore themes of emigration, wandering and searching for home, rebuilding yourself, existence in the situation of the uncertain future and the flickering present. And a bar is an excellent place for self-reflection, thinking and discussions.

Photo by Michelle Leng.


Combining two well-known memes from modern Russian culture. A stock image of a bowing penguin and a sarcastic inscription “Oh fuck, thanks a lot” are superimposed over the inscription “Thanks, Grandpa” referring to the popular slogan in Russia “Thanks, Grandpa, for the Victory” (referring to the victory in 1945). Additionally, in contemporary Russia, “Grandpa” is a nickname for Vladimir Putin. Obviously, the waves of the recent Russian emigration are the result of decisions made by him.

In the mirror.

Rearview mirror from a Yugoslav Zastava car, complemented by an image of either a wolf or a large dog’s jaws. A straightforward and simple metaphor for the danger that has been left behind.

No regrets.

Reference to a famous Russian meme, featuring a cheerful Mickey Mouse accompanied by the caption “Just fuck it.” Rejection of regrets and a positive outlook on the future.

For What.

Author’s interpretation of a scene with Mickey Mouse and the meme with “Just fuck it.” In this case, it represents a complete contrast in mood and message. Instead of absence of regrets and a positive outlook, there’s a sad Mickey, eternal doubts, and worries.


A new version of an old work from the “Childhood in Front of the TV” series. The original depicts Sultan from the Disney movie “Aladdin” portraying former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, dancing on stage during the 1996 presidential campaign. In the new version, instead of Yeltsin and the girls, there are skeletons from medieval Swiss murals performing their “macabre” – the dance of death.


A menu found in the abandoned NIS hotel in the seaside town of Čanj (Montenegro), used in the canteen of this Yugoslav hotel. On top of the menu grid, there is an image of a Soviet canteen worker from an archival photograph, as well as text – a list of things that Russian emigrants miss while away from their homeland (the list was compiled after a survey on Instagram).

Only one path.

The author’s last photograph taken in Russia – the Moscow/St. Petersburg highway in the fog. Overlaying it is a line from the song “I’ll Jump from the Cliff” by the Russian rock band “Korol i Shut”: “I know I can’t get anything back in life.” The next line in the text: “And now I have only one path left.”

The stone of madness.

A close-up of the eyes of the main character in Jan van Hemessen’s painting “The Extraction of the Stone of Madness” (1555), printed on “Deal with it” glasses, signifying a show of composure and “coolness.” The removal of the stone of madness or folly is a popular theme among Dutch painters of the 15th-17th centuries. In Dutch, the expression “cutting out the stone” means “to deceive.”


Cardboard, handmade beer coasters featuring images of stacks from the bar’s collection. On the back of each coaster is a message, one of the things that currently worry the author and his acquaintances in emigration, causing them anxiety or irritation, dissatisfaction.

A special liqueur was made specifically for the exhibition – a tincture of mountain herbs with added pepper and ginger.

Price List.

For the exhibition, price menus were prepared featuring all the works from the exhibition along with detailed descriptions in English. These price menus were placed on the same surfaces and in the same locations as the regular bar menus.

Réalité Réalité Réalité.

Hanging at the bar exit, banners shaped like red pills with the repeated inscription in French “R.alit.” (reality). Emigration as an exit to reality, akin to what Neo did in “The Matrix” by choosing the red pill.


At the very exit of the exhibition, there is a round sticker featuring a photograph of a fragment from the 2016 work “Land of Advice,” created in collaboration with the poet Alexander Vavilov, as part of Marat Guelman’s art residency in Kotor, Montenegro.

The plot of the poem revolves around time reversing, causing historical events to repeat in reverse order. The full quatrain reads:

“Not far away, war blooms again. The Alliance army bombs Belgrade. The entire Balkans burn with white fire… In short, nothing changes at all.”

In the new version, using composition in a graphic editor, only the words “Not far away, war blooms again / in short, nothing changes at all” remain.

The show was on the display in April-May 2024  at BIFE bar, 2-4 Marshal Birjuzova Street, 2nd floor of the corner building (Belgrade, Serbia).