Anastasia Bogomolova
Multi-disciplinary artist, curator, lecturer. Works with installations, photography, performance, and sculpture. Her art projects are connected to images of separation, studies of the flexibility of memory and oblivion when applied to historical traumas, mythical archetypes, changes in the emotional and physical landscape, as well as images of traces.

Born in 1985 in Kazakhstan. Graduated from Chelyabinsk State University in 2007. In 2012–2014 studied in the educational programs in the FotoDepartament Foundation (St. Petersburg).

Winner of The Garage Museum's Grant Program (Russia, 2017, 2018). Winner of The Credit Suisse and Cosmoscow Art Prize for Young Artists (Russia, 2016). Nominee for The Kandinsky Prize ("The Young artist. Project of the Year", Russia, 2017) and The Sergey Kuryokhin Award ("Best visual art project", Russia, 2018). Participant of the PROGR Artist in Residence program (supported by Pro Helvetia, Bern, Switzerland, 2019).

Bogomolova's projects were shown at group exhibitions and festivals in Russia, Belarus, Italy, Latvia, Germany, the USA, India, China, Malaysia, including as a part of the Special project of The 4th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art, Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art, the 9th Moscow International Biennale "Fashion and Style in Photography", Savignano Immagini Festival, Bitume Photofest, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Obscura Festival, and Focus Photography Festival.

Selected personal exhibitions: "Lookbook" (Chelyabinsk Museum of Fine Arts, Chelyabinsk, Russia, 2018); "Under the Dome" (contemporary art gallery "OkNo", Chelyabinsk, Russia, 2018); "Lookbook" (Museum of Soviet Life, Ufa, Russia, 2018); "Landscape" (contemporary art gallery "OkNo", Chelyabinsk, Russia, 2016); "Lookbook" (Nizhny Tagil Museum of Fine Arts, Nizhny Tagil, Russia, 2016); "Datcha/garden" (Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia, 2014).
4 April. «Nesting syndrome»
Reading the chapter "Nest" from the "The Poetics of Space" by Gaston Bachelard. Live on Instagram of the art residence and on YouTube. Readers: artist Anastasia Bogomolova and curator Zhenya Chaika.
Additional links: broadcast recording, quote book
11 April. Presentation of the "Shishim Hill" library
Live on Zoom is hosted by curator Zhenya Chaika.
Additional links: bookshelf of art residence on Bookmate
18 April. "Place for gesture". Artist talk of Anastasia Bogomolova
Performing practices in the artist's projects – from growing photos in the garden to traveling through the Ural Europe.
25 April. "A crisis has entered my work. I am confused, perplexed and do not know what to do next"*
Hackathon for the artist.
* The title cites the work of Yuri Albert.
2 May. "Modern nature". Walk together separately

Walking at the nearby forests, parks and courtyards, uniting participants on Zoom.
9 May. "Routine maintenance"
Zoom-talk about the life of an artist during the pandemic and far after.
16 May. "Fortune-telling on a chamomile, or Do modern artists need texts"
Zoom-dialogue about texts.
23 May. FAQ, or Why residence is the best place for isolation
Presentation of the results from a two-month residence.
About the project in the artist residence
In April and May of 2020, the artist Anastasia Bogomolova was in the "Shishim Hill" art residence. The work was built in the logic of the residence as a process. In this case, the process focused not so much on the study of surroundings or specific features of the area. Anastasia's idea was to reconsider one of her projects, and by means of it, perhaps, her creative approach.

The residence took place during the pandemic, when events were prohibited, and it was not recommended to leave the residence. Due to this, all scheduled events were held on-line, versatile communication means were selected for each meeting. As a result, according to the plan, these meetings and conversations supported an important discussion about the aspects of the project itself or the features of its production.

One of the main "side effects" of this discussion among artists and curators from different cities of Russia was the urge to create not only an oral, but also a written presentation of the project. Therefore, Olga Bubich, Valentin Dyakonov and Ilmira Bolotyan made publications that contributed to the project's Archive, which was incomplete, and consisted of the artist's verbal description and work-in-progress.

During the residence sanitary restrictions were introduced, including walks, which were supposed to give birth to new material for the project. However, it would be unfair to say that regulations made it impossible for Anastasia to explore the area. Since walks to the Uktus Forest were limited, the closest flora came under closer scrutiny. Confined observation from a window of the residence focused on the swollen buds of cotoneaster and the blossoming flowers of young lilacs, there were worries about the spread of lichens on the nearby birch and a surprise at how quickly a yesterday invisible bush shook off the snow - perhaps all this enabled to fine-tune the very same language that can be spoken to plants.
Valentin Dyakonov, art critic, curator
Historians are paranoid, they claim that the now is scripted by past events. Usually the script is found somewhere in myths or, otherwise, has already been played out in the form of group therapy or tragedy somewhere in ancient Greece. When looking at Anastasia Bogomolova's Assemblage series, paranoia readily suggests the myth of Apollo and Daphne (the classic version is found in Ovid's "Metamorphoses", the classical depiction is a baroque sculpture by Bernini). Apart from showing how normal rape was in Greek culture, this episode uncovers an interesting dynamic in interaction of the fugitive and the forest. This dynamic finds several common points with Bogomolova's "Assemblage". In an article by an American scholar Yael Even on how myths were drawn and sculpted in the Renaissance, she notes that the artists were rarely interested in the sorrows of Daphne turning into a tree. She is almost never at the center of attention. "Assemblage" returns the focus to Daphne, but not in a form of a specific character from the entourage of Artemis the Huntress. Rather, she becomes a complex, like in psychoanalysis, – a recurrent obsessive state.

This state has both active and passive instances. In the passive phase, the Daphne's complex makes its carrier lose herself in the natural landscape and subordinate human physicality to the logic of a forest or bushes. The active phase takes place in an interior through the germination of branches, bark and other plant elements on the body. Anastasia uses very different languages to stage these phases. In the first case, a powerful effect of hidden presence and inner tension is built up: we focus attention on a human body, which attempts to scatter this attention as much as possible and pretend to be a complete inorganic object. At the studio shooting of the active phase, fragments of the body are captured and illuminated with bright contrasting colors not unlike Cindy Sherman's or Jimmy De Sana's. Branches and bark look like jewelry pieces or futuristic modifications of a body striving to move beyond the dichotomy of nature and culture.

The Daphne complex is not clinical, but poetic, and finds new avatars for itself in rhyme and other types of poetry. In the medieval Sufi treatise "The Order of the Lonely" Avempace celebrates a certain type of solitude which, given the right discipline of the everyday, should become a "model for a perfect state". Lonely people are plants that should be cherished for the sake of a future perfect state. Loneliness is the most difficult value to explain and protect from others. The Daphne complex in the "Assemblage" is an attempt to escape towards non-human orders from the aggressive persistence of the surrounding hominids. It is a longing for non-oedipal forests, where Kassandra's neuroses hold no power. However, success of this escape is not granted automatically. Anastasia is far from the optimism of experimenters who create hybrid families with lichens, ducks and electricity. The gender-neutral body in the photographs of the "Assemblage" serves not as a statement of binarity, but as a neurotic breakthrough into the times beyond gender and, as a result, beyond exploitation. "Assemblage" remains an evidence of the complex, and not a report of a successful mutation, because a neurotic is never sure whether the forest will accept her.
Olga Bubich, art critic, photographer, lecturer
"Then, to my infinite delight, they bombed our river. Cascades of water roared over the marsh – all the gulls came and rode the waves at the end of the field. It was, and still is, an inland sea, of such indescribable beauty, always changing, day and night, sun and rain, that I can't take my eyes off it. […] oh dear, how I love this savage medieval water moved, all floating tree trunks and flocks of birds and a man in an old punt, and myself so eliminated of human features that you might take me for a stake walking", – wrote a heroine of Virginia Wolf's story to her friend, composer Ethel Smyth. The extract, where the British compares herself with an element of the landscape that excited her, can be interpreted as a premonition of a tragedy, the writer's suicide a few months later. However, following the culturologist Olivia Laing, in this desire for anonymity I tend to see something else. A wish to be part of landscape is a sign of pure, existentially natural contact with "realness", it is the embodiment of the hypnotic "here and now" magic mantra of Walt Whitman's who was turning into every object he saw. Perhaps, the only true way of being. Perhaps, unattainable. However, despite this unattainability, no less attractive.

In the photo-performances "Assemblage", Anastasia Bogomolova continues the practice of "embedding" – as she confesses herself, through the establishment of contact with the world of groaning trees and experimentation with mimicry strategies, she is trying to turn into an "organ of nature". To grow into it. Is the artist escaping from the city? Is she returning to a more natural human state, lost among the folds of a cliff, rocky slopes or bushes? Deprived of her own body, does she still remain a human being? Through such gestures, is she trying to encounter her real "self"? Or to learn to speak with nature? Learn to listen? Or hear?

I prefer to reflect on this project not only in terms of its final "assemblage" result - crossbreeding, a merge of two realities - but as a catalog of observations, a new herbarium. The statement of facts that doesn't require conclusions, the process of Bacon's "contemplation of things as they are - without substitution or imposture, without error or confusion". As well as the Child from Whitman's poem, not interested in whether we believe that "early lilacs, [...] grass, and red morning-glories, and clover, and small phoebe-birds" became part of him (we are not a part of his universe, at all), in the series by Anastasia Bogomolova, it makes no sense to look for an interpretation of numerous "whys?". I consider "Assemblage" as an arena of impersonal reality, a formula of a new, nontemporal and non-geographic physicality, where not the person, but the world "speaks" in a proud, albeit quiet, continuous, polyphonically-saturated and deep voice.
Ilmira Bolotyan, art critic, artist, curator
The present circumstances – a panic fear of the smallest inhabitants of our planet, viruses – are urging us to reflect on the question how we will coexist further on. Surely, recurrent outbreaks of disease are associated with the fact that there are practically no places on Earth free from human presence. Having such a large and nutritious population as humans right beside, viruses eagerly spread to us from wild animals. They won't be defeated. Reach an agreement? In case you find a language. The language, which is not a system of signs, but a means that helps to feel the logic of another, to stand in their shoes – and develop a new connection with the outside world based on this knowledge and experience.

Undoubtedly, the context in which I find myself greatly influences me and my perception of the "Assemblage" project by Anastasia Bogomolova. While looking at how Nastya's naked body touches trees and stones, how spikes and gnarls grow out of her body, I see the abyss between the world of people and the world of nature. The artist herself admits that her interactions with forests are traumatic, she takes pictures not far from touristic trails and even in the studio she does not feel comfortable alone with natural materials. (In fact, a tree skeleton without a special treatment brought to a house or museum can become a source of many insects). Moreover, it doesn't matter whether it happens in the Ural forest or the Swiss one, in a forest belt or a windfall.

It is interesting that the project started with images of idyllic dissolution in the environment and resembled Ana Mendieta's "Silueta Series", with the only difference that Bogomolova's body became that very silhouette and turned into a "female sign". The project was initially? called "Periods" and was a pretty convincing story about disclosure and movement of a restrained female body towards its relaxation and satisfaction.

I still think that "Periods" was successful as a separate statement, however, the artist herself considers it to be a harbinger of the questions she asks herself now. In this sense, we can say that "Assemblage" began with a practice whose goal was to regain one's body, re-appropriate it – self-realize. Nonetheless, even then the project had two parts. In the second part, the artist's body was not disclosed, but built into natural landscapes, it mimicked them, however, it revealed itself through nakedness. A pale naked human body against the backdrop of an impenetrable forest space looks extremely vulnerable: it is attacked by insects, scratched by branches, burnt by the sun or tormented by humidity and cold – it looks like an organ removed from its protective frame made of muscles, bones and skin. This genderless "baby" expelled from its mother's womb can only press into gorges and cling to trees hoping to remain unnoticed. Albeit alive, it is forced to pretend to be dead – such a "language" agrees with the nature's logic, likewise it is logical that now we are trying to deceive the virus and pretend that the number of humans is few.

"I don't know how to talk with nature," Nastya explains – "No one knows how." And I will add for her: "I can only interact with it. " It seems to be the only way – finally, to turn off the familiar sign system and switch to the natural: pretend to be a tree, a stone, a patch of grass and hope to feel their way of "thinking".

In painting art, there is a saying "to follow your hand," which means to start a painting with a brush movement, not an idea, and see where it will lead. The same method Bogomolova applies here – only let's call it "to follow your body". It emerges at the moment of frustration, from the awareness that it is impossible to establish a contact, completely mimic, move into a plant or stone. This state can only be documented. "I lost from the outset," says Nastya. On the contrary, I think she accomplished a difficult goal – moved away from the colonialist view of nature, admitted her fear of it, let it inside, albeit metaphorically, allowed the spikes and gnarls to "grow" through the tender human flesh, as the grass grew through the body of photography in her own project "To Grow from the Grass I Love".

"Assemblage" is a fraud project: it is easy to interpret it as an invitation to talk about physicality, femininity, or, please no, about body positivity. In fact, it is talking about the experience of a non-human language, where photography is only documenting. The main thing – that is the experience between the artist and her forest companions – remains behind the scenes, as, for example, it happened in one of the artist's dreams, where she married a tree. Judging by this dream, the forest began to reply to Nastya. We look forward to the continuation of the project.