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Andrey Kuzkin was born in Moscow in 1979.
In 2001 he graduated from the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, the department of graphic arts.
Kuzkin started participating in exhibitions since 2006.
For the first time Kuzkin draw attention of critics and curators in 2008 in the art-camp “Veretevo” during the Youth Biennale “Stop! Who Goes There?”, where he demonstrated several works at a time, including installation “Place, Where No One Disturbs” and performance “Circle-wise”, which became a sensation.
For several hours Kuzkin walked in a circle of a pool filled with liquid concrete being roped to a stick in the centre. The performance lasted till the artist could no longer knead the concrete which started to solidify. Kuzkin himself described the performance as an act of solidarity with people, who are forced to carry on their shoulders the hardness of everyday life so unbearably difficult in his country. Using the video documentation of the performance the artist produced a film, which was later used by the Russian and European curators for various exhibition projects.
In 2008 Kuzkin also produced the performance “Time-Space Continuum” at the Stella Art Foundation, where for 7 hours 43 minutes he drew the line on the wall using a pencil and without disengaging his hand from the wall. This is an experiment in extreme concentration, commitment and total fusion with the process of “drawing a line”, which does not have a functional aim. The artist considers this experience extremely important and is planning to repeat it once again at a certain point.
First solo exhibition “Andrey Kuzkin. JZN. All I Wanted to Say but Couldn’t”. Moscow, Art-Strelka.
“Russian Letterism”. Central House of the Artists (curator Andrey Erofeev).
Shiryaevo Biennale. “America, between Europe and Asia”, Samara, Shiryaevo village.
Krasnoyarsk Biennale “Distance”. Krasnoyarsk Museum (former Lenin Museum). Installation and performance “Undeniable Ghosts”.
Exhibition of the participants of the premium “Innovation 2009”. Moscow. State Centre of Contemporary Art. Kuzkin received the “Innovation” and “Associate” prizes.
Started to work with the Open Gallery: exhibitions “Identity Crisis” (“Self-portrait”), “Temptation”, “The City”, “Male Principle” (“Painting by Request”), “Memories and Dreams”.
Video of the performance “Resistance” from the exhibition “Temptation”, where Kuzkin in a gas mask washed away with rigour the pictures in glamorous magazines. The piece was chosen to participate in the Berlin Biennale.
“Levitation Heroes”. In the exhibition hall of Stella Art Foundation in the awkward poses sat and stood three naked four-meters high human figures modelled out of bread. The soaked bread mixed with salt is a traditional material for modelling used by zeks. Kuzkin finds certain relation between this “prison clay” and the bodily substance: bread is a living product, it was born from earth and is not an everlasting as it is opened for deformations with time; it “grows old” and decays as we all do (that is the reason why Kuzkin’s “bread people” cannot be described as sculptural objects – there is too much human to them). Kuzkin says: “I like simple people, hard workers, all those people living next door. The differences between us are irrelevant. I speak of death, of the fact that we are all equal before it and it arouses similar emotions in everyone. How my heroes look has nothing to do with social criticism: such interpretations would be much too simplistic. One wants to find the things all people share: the undeniable, indisputable things. They are just people. Simple mortals. All of us are. And our problem, our shared problem, still wouldn’t be solved, however hard you try. And of course, it is also an exhibition about the people living in this country. The people who drink, beat each other up, scream and shout but are still people. They grow old and they die. These are my heroes, and I am among them, one of them, and I feel this energy of destruction that is, at the same time, an energy of flight”. (quoted from Stella Art Foundation website)
VI Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. Video of the performance “Resistance” and live performance “What-ever is Over There”
On the verge of Berlin Biennale the assistants guided by the medical workers covered the artist’s body – shaving off in advance all hair-covering, including eyebrows – with Latin names of all possible illnesses, which threaten people. On the opening night Kuzkin, all covered with diagnosis of different kind, laid motionless for four hours on a white podium in a glass sarcophagus. To make such an experiment the artist need to have certain courage: it is evident whose role he has played. Kuzkin’s skill for smoothly sliding over time (sometimes he dives into childhood, another time he runs 29 years ahead) now it allows him to cross the final frontier: he literally anticipates death, using his body in a way it would be used in an anatomy theatre, which is the place for demonstration of manifestations of illnesses on those, who can no longer be harmed by that. The contrast between the young, not yet decayed body of the artist and the bunch of illnesses, evidently not belonging to him, which were nevertheless allowed to appear and to be presented to the viewers exactly where they should appear in case of a real illness, made one think that the artist was ready to share not only the diagnosis of others but also their pain; that there was an element of all-human compassion in his actions. It is not by chance that the motionless pose of his figure evoked in the intelligent viewers the famous painting by Mantegna.
The artist himself commented on the works: “There is nothing physically complex here – well, I got shaved, then got undressed. It is much more difficult psychologically. It is as if I took those illness on myself. It only appears that the common expression “do not show on yourself” means nothing – it is actually frightening. And for me to make this was as if I had to get over my personal fear of death because the fear of death is the only thing which restrains human freedom. And art in that way or the other searches for freedom”.
“Russian Utopias”. Audio-visual object “Alone or Secret Life”. Garage Centre. Inside the iron cube (2х2 meters) one could hear the sound of steps, whisper, murmur, shouting and knocking, claims and invocations.
“Levitation Heroes” were exhibited in Turin and Venice as part of exhibition “Modernikon” (organised by Victoria Art Foundation and Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation).
Solo project “All Ahead of You!”. Open Gallery, Moscow.
9th of March 2011 Kuzkin with an active help of the Open Gallery started to realise his project. Each step was protocoled and certified by signatures of the participants. Since 09. 02 till 14. 02 all Kuzkin’s property, which was in his studio – his paintings, objects, installations, hundreds of graphic works, as well as his bed, furniture, utensil, books, brushes, paint, computer, shoes, clothes and everything else – was put into boxes which were then transported to the Open Gallery. The large furniture was thrown away. The artist’s studio was left bare-walled. Special boxes were ordered in the metalworking department and delivered to the gallery. All the belongings were packed into 58 steel boxes of various sizes, which were welt afterwards. The last box, 59th, was sealed in front of the public on the 15th of March. Before that last moment Kuzkin put inside his camera, having made the last shot, his mobile phone, passport, clothes, which he was wearing on that day, a list of all enclosed things, which he read loud to the public in advance and his hair which were cut during his reading of the list. The “relieved” Kuzkin washed himself in a basin and dressed into a newly bought t-shirt, jeans and shoes.
This project has several specific features. First of all, it is stretched in time: according to the protocol it commenced on the 9th of February 2011 and reached its culmination (private view and performance) on the 15th of March 2011; its continuation (or consequence) happens in the present, its final is planned for the year 2040: 15th of March 2040 the boxes can be opened no matter who is going to be their owner by that moment. Thus, the duration of the project, according to the artist, is going to be 29 years.
Secondly, it erases the demarcation line between the territory of art and territory of life. It does not just “make art” but entrenches the destiny itself trying to subordinate it to its (artistic?) scenario.
Thirdly, it involves undetermined amount of participants. Along with workers, ferrymen, hairdresser, secretary, who are documented in protocol notes or depicted in the video, all those who witnessed the performance on the 15th of March should be included (because the project, as has been mentioned above, was related to life in as much as to art and thus turned ordinary viewers into witnesses of a fateful event) as well as all potential owners and other unknown individuals, who will at any point in the future make any kind of action to the enclosed “heritage” of the artist.
Finally, the project filled the artist’s future works with special meaning, making the artistic community dwell in tense expectation of the new Kuzkin.
As the art critic Valentin Dyakonov wrote in the newspaper “Kommersant”, this performance provoked envy and scepsis simultaneously. Envy because most of us feel at a certain point the desire to start everything from scratch but try to suppress it as something impossible. Scepsis – because as Dyakonov wrote “risk of disappointment is extremely high – both personal and that of the audience – but this is precisely where the brevity is demonstrated, which has no rivalry in Russia art world today”. (newspaper “Kommersant”, №48 (4589), 22/03/2011)
“Looking For a Masterpiece”. Open Gallery. Installation “Mother’s Portrait” and performance on the closing night “Natural Phenomena”
Autumn 2011 – For the third time Andrey Kuzkin received the “Associate” prize.
“A Close Look Changes the Object” exhibition in the Open Gallery, “Casual people” were shown – so called by Kuzkin “performative” paintings.
In this work there happened an inversion: you see “reality” through art. If previously there was an opportunity of viewing a model against its portrait, today the artist offers us a chance to contemplate a portrait against the living model which “stuffs” the portrait and stares at you fixedly: eye to eye.
Performance “Natural Phenomena” when Kuzkin alone or with a group of his friends stand naked upside down among the grass and the trees, burying their heads in the ground, can be repeated in any location and with any group of people. By this moment it has been performed in the courtyard of the Open Gallery near Arbat, in the forest near the art-camp “Veretevo”, at the “Factory” and in Krasnoyarsk. It is evident that the artist repeats the experiment not for the public but for himself, considering it to be a certain way of “purification”; a psychological practice, which the artist finds useful for himself.
“The idea of the project is extremely clear – to remind that a human being is a natural being, as natural as a tree. Humans are a biological being which we start to forget living in metropolises and surrounded by various gadgets...I would like to keep repeating this performance, to involve more participants, in different weather conditions and in different places as I feel I enjoy it a lot. It is my motto in a way – from culture to nature. At the Venice Biennale I felt overfilled with various special effects in art. This makes me feel depressed. I just want to get undressed and stand on my head”.
“Unstoppable Action”, Open Gallery.
“I've Been Here!”, Open Gallery.
“Where it's at”, Open Gallery.