Wilde Gallery is pleased to present Russian artist Alexei Kostroma's first feathered action in Berlin, entitled ОПЕРЕННЫЙ ХАОС (feathered chaos). In this installation, Kostroma will fill the gallery with 20 kilos of feathers, transforming it into a large-scale, interactive sculpture.
Since the early 1990's, Kostroma has completed a series of complex feathered installations, entirely encasing symbolic objects -- industrial cranes, public sculptures in Moscow, bus station in the Russian village of Shiryaevo and a Second World War howitzer aimed at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, for example-- in white feathers, thereby distorting and "softening" the associations commonly attributed to the original object. The resulting sculptures are surreal and whimsical, ironic and yet genuinely optimistic.
Russian culture, not necessarily characterized by its optimism, provides a spectrum of loaded symbols underscored by tragic historical events that Kostroma reinvents with his material of choice, lightening the heavy and occasionally morose meanings that these objects imply. For his interactive installation Feathered Aggression, presented in the 2008 exhibition Russian Dreams... at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, Kostroma feathered a five-meter cannon that he re-engineered so that the barrel would break and drop when approached by the viewer. Feathered Aggression perfectly encapsulates Kostroma's artistic sensibility and his desire to transform brutal negativity into something fanciful, humorous and light-hearted.
In fact, Kostroma's ability to focus on the positive may have even saved his life, after he was brutally shot in the head point blank by his ex-wife in a fit of jealous rage.
Almost exactly one year ago, Wilde Gallery received a phone call from a journalist in Saint Petersburg, asking if we cared to comment on the developing situation with Alexei Kostroma. Having no idea what she meant, we asked her what had happened and were devastated to learn that Kostroma was in a coma in a Russian hospital with three bullet wounds in his skull. Furthermore, Kostroma's right hand, the hand that he paints with, had been shot multiple times and the bones had all been shattered. After Kostroma miraculously awoke from his coma, the doctors informed him that his hand was severely infected and may need to be amputated.
Kostroma, happy to be alive, feathered his cast and waited for his surgery date. During this time, when it was unclear if his hand would have to be amputated, Kostroma's unfaltering optimism and good humor was a testament to his personal philosophy. Thankfully, the surgery was a success and his hand did not have to be amputated. Now, one year later, Kostroma is happily remarried and has made a full recovery, which he attributes to his positive outlook.
Feathered Chaos is thus a celebration of the events in life, both good and bad, that are beyond our control, the omnipresence of poetic chaos in the everyday and a poignant reminder that in order to overcome life's unpredictable and seemingly insurmountable hardships, all we need to do is lighten up.
Alexei Kostroma (born 1962) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He has been featured in exhibitions at the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, the Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis Museum, Amsterdam, the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden, and Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne/Zurich, among others. His work is in the collections of the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, as well as numerous private and public collections world-wide.