Moscow Museum of Modern Art and 11.12 Gallery present a personal exhibition of Slava Ptrk “Not Needed There. Not Needed Here”. The project is part of the program to support the young art of MOMA. The exhibition is an attempt to create a universal portrait of the generation of the 90s through the history of one person. The artist paints a picture of the world of his childhood, using personal and subjective experience, which, however, largely coincides with the childhood memories of most people born at the time.
The main idea of the project was born out of the author’s desire to understand the present itself, regathering all that surrounded him in childhood, and prove to himself and the viewer that his generation is not the “lost generation of the dashing nineties,” and thinking, feeling and help people who have something to say to the world.
In the works presented at the exhibition, numerous images of mass culture of the 90s and early 2000s are used, instantly recognizable by those whose childhood and youth took place in Russia during that period and resurrecting in memory the fading recollections of the past. The artist says he was inspired by his favorite characters and hobbies, such as skateboarding, “vpiski,” watching “Duck stories” and “Rambo,” songs Linkin Park, “ICQ,” web chats, and nightly MTV in the world without mobile phones, without the Internet and without social networks.
Because of the using all these easily readable and close-to-everyone images in artworks, the viewer is involved in the project on an emotional level, feels that he speaks with the artist in a common language, and he becomes part of this open to all and sincere exhibition.
My text on exhibition:
My name is Slava; I am 28 years old. I was born in the small town of Shadrinsk, Kurgan Oblast. It is located to the east of the Urals, about 250 km from Yekaterinburg – our region is called the “Transural region,” and it is said that “it is rich in people.” It is true; in nothing else, our region is rich. It is worth noting that the most famous people from Shadrinsk are artists: the sculptor Shadr with his sculpture “The Cobblestone Is the Weapon of the Proletariat” and the painter Fyodor Bronnikov, whose paintings you can find in museums across the world. As a child, having chosen an art school instead of a sports school, a karate class, or any other sports activities, I studied at the art school named after Fyodor Bronnikov.
I have never dreamed of becoming an artist, and my drawing skills are still very average. I was only a bairn when I enrolled in the art school. It was often difficult for me to force myself to paint one of these boring still lifes instead of playing football (or, to be more precise, the game of “square” – a variation of football with four players on the field), the Dendy video game or watching cartoons on television. I showed no enthusiasm for my studies both in the art school and in the general education school, taking it rather as a duty and a period in life that I should live through. Also, I had no passion for books, any books. But I could easily immerse myself in the world of video games, cartoons, and movies. My parents coddled me (my father then worked as an investigator and later as a judge), and at an early age, I received a Dendy video game console (“Ninja Turtles,” “Contra,” “Frogs,” “Tanchiki,” “Duck Hunt”) and then a computer (“DOOM, “DUKE NUKEM, “BLOOD, “Heroes of Magic and Sword,” “Cossacks”). I also had lots of Lego blocks and toys from Kinder Surprise. Perhaps it was Lego and other construction toys that formed my mindset and contributed to developing my imagination skills, but I am not sure about this.
So I grew up moving between the TV screen and the monitor, pausing occasionally only to play war in the forest near the house. I began to make graffiti after graduating from art school – at the age of 14, my friends drew me into making writings such as “rap-yo” and “rock sucks” with automotive spray paint. I didn’t feel comfortable writing this since myself I rather preferred Queen, The Beatles, Nautilus Pompilius, and Linkin Park to Eminem, Detsl, and Casta. While pretty quickly, all my friends lost interest in it, I developed an enthusiasm for it, and up to the age of 17, I would paint “fragments” – graffiti writings – all over the city. At the same time, a friend of mine from Perm introduced me to skateboarding, and this became my second great passion for the next 7-8 years. I entered my teenage years as a skater with a paint can in my hand and marks below the average at school. I would spend time in computer clubs playing GTA III and Need for Speed Underground, joined a Counter-Strike team under the nickname “P @ + Riot” (which was reduced to Patrick, and then it was decided to get rid of the vowels), and began to get involved in the then trendy “alternative/non-mainstream/emo” movement. This allowed me not only to make new friends but also to experience my first encounters with the thuggish youth groups “gopota.”
At 16, I dyed my hair black, I bought my first skate shoes (they cost a lot, and I had to go to Yekaterinburg to buy them), and I was trying to figure out what I would do after graduating the school. There was no clear answer. Thinking about the “best of a bad lot” and that “it may be interesting to become a journalist,” I applied to the Journalism Department of the Ural State University named after A.M.Gorky and was barely admitted as a self-funded student. At the age of 17, I found myself in a new yet so familiar and beloved megalopolis called Yekaterinburg. Graffiti and skating were set aside — the time had come for new impressions, loves, adventures, and other joys of student life (in a rented apartment, not in the dorm). As it turned out, during my first year at the university, I was capable of being a good journalist – I wrote articles about leaking roofs and rutted roads, was paid peanuts, and lived, like any other student, not being bothered about anything. At times I would skate, but I was not good at it – I did my first kickflip during the fourth or fifth skating season, which, of course, was a failure. Graffiti seemed meaningless to me. Nevertheless, I continued to draw doodles in a sketchbook during classes at the university. Looking through these sketchbooks now, one can see how my interest gradually shifted from fonts to pictures and even to some conceptual statements.
In 2009, my best friend and graffiti artist Ilya Mosgi (Brains) began to make graffiti on the streets using his sense of humor and complex multi-layered stencils. At that moment, I thought – maybe I should try to do something similar. Drawing skills were not necessary; you could get the result fast; if you did everything right, quality was guaranteed; and you could produce the same image several times. But what should I draw? It should be something meaningful – then, in my third year at the Journalism Department, I turned to the answer to my education – “look around, and you will understand what you should talk about with your audience.” One of my first works in Yekaterinburg was “Kirill Moneybox,” featuring Patriarch Kirill with a hand throwing a coin in his headdress as if it were a moneybox. This is how it all started, and it could have ended if it were in 2018. But back then, in 2010, there were no laws against offending religious feelings or other absurd legal initiatives of our government. So everything went smoothly, and “Kirill-Moneybox,” along with “Sexy- Gadget Hackwrench” and “Chip and Dale – Madonna with a Child,” became the starting point of my career as a street artist. The time when I was torn between skateboarding, music, journalism, and graffiti was over (later, I graduated from the Journalism Department). My life began to take shape, my legs carried me forward, and my hands produced new works.
So what happened next? Then many things happened, and now, in the eighth year of my career, I want to look back and understand – who I am. What made me who I am? This subjective approach makes this exhibition very personal and selfish in a way, but I am sure that people of my age will find something that will resonate with them and maybe even ask themselves the same questions I asked myself (and I would like them to do this).