Bratkov

Collecti@n 

Torch Gallery is pleased to present “Collection”, a new photography series by Ukrainian artist Sergey Bratkov (b. 1960).

Since the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War, the western world has been renegotiating its identity and the former Soviet Union started her long journey towards civilised economy – economy according to the sacrosanct order of late capitalism. For the last twenty years, trained engineer Sergey Bratkov has been dedicated to video art, performance and photography. In 1994 he joined the Fast Reaction Group (1993-1997) and what had started as witty self-empowerment in the face of an estrangement of the individual from the realm of politics turned into a dedication to critically document the social changes in East-European countries. Most of the results constitute series of photographs, each of which appears to have its own particular theme and aesthetics. Still, most of times, they do depict East-European social types whose fragmented identities transparent in compositions that play on allying visual -art historical- references and documentary style. Since a few years, these have come in the guise of a critique of mass culture and western cultural stereotypes. Hereby Sergey Bratkov simultaneously unveils East-Europeans ambiguous relation to their recent past, their desire for the capitalist Other and elaborate a critique of the prevailing order of this later. With his new show at the Torch Gallery to be seen from the 5th of November, Sergey Bratkov goes a step further in blurring the limits between art and life, private and public realms as he radically challenges traditional notions of art and creativity. His new show “Collecti@n” presents different series of pictures entitled according to different heroic European avant-gardes. Though one would suppose that these pictures have been set-up by Bratkov himself, they constitute the result of a search and selection work of web material. Once up-loaded on the web, these documents become public. And once selected and gathered by Bratkov, these mises en scène of private fantasies seem to cross section broader issues concerning for instance the status of art history and national identities as they exhibit an  uncanny formal and ideological unity in the different stereotypes that seem to recur.
While challenging some of modernism’s Great Narratives, Sergey Bratkov’s new photo series will surely inscribe itself in its best tradition – generating surprise and controversy.
Catherine Somzé, Amsterdam 2005

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