Frozen Conflict, 2014
Oil on linen
72 x 60 in.
182.9 x 152.4 cm
House of the Rising Sun
The true way is along a rope that is not spanned high in the air, but only just above the ground. It seems intended more to cause stumbling than to be walked upon. – Franz Kafka
In 2012, I began using a second of footage of my mother for material in order to mine a way into the elusive nature of memory. This second of footage, manifested as 24 paintings, was an objective path to a mnemonic interior world that I could not otherwise articulate. Our departure from the USSR in 1990, having been the pivot that hinged the before and after of my life, obscured the contours of memory in my mind, leaving everything in motion. What I have been painting is this motion of memory, degrading and disappearing over time.
The six paintings in this show, part of the Reagan series, are a continuation of this body of work. The difference being that while the Mother paintings are, at their core, a maze of personal memory, the Reagans manifest the exterior/collective memory, something akin to Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious. All the paintings in this exhibition derive from footage of Reagan’s 1987 Brandenburg Gate speech. These two seconds of video, the Mother and Reagan, distilled into binary form, can be seen as the collective and the personal, or the interior and exterior sum of my experience.
Reagan’s image is repeatedly distorted by an electromagnetic signal; his likeness is intentionally obscured. The works slowly acquire form on the canvas with painting’s metaphysical plane colliding with flatness and space. This conflict is central to the work’s intention – a representation of the physicality of memory. This is how the “images” transform into paintings.
The other work in this show is a 5-channel video, called House of the Rising Sun. For a number of years I had been searching on YouTube for Russians singing American songs. I was interested in the way songs lost their meaning when sung phonetically, becoming screens for internal projections. I felt a kinship with this negation of language. Here, form supplanted language as the universal way of communication. For some reason, “House of the Rising Sun” was the song that came up significantly more than any other. It is a strange song, so old that it has no author, passed on as part of an oral tradition. These videos, where most of the people make up their own lyrics in Russian (although, some do sing it phonetically in English), seemed to me a continuation of this tradition.
This song, as with the images of my mother and of Reagan, is an avatar for interior thoughts. The lyrics are obscured by language, just as the images are obscured by static, so my hope is that the viewer can move beyond symbol and language, into their own consciousness. Ultimately, the works in the show are about things coming together and coming apart. My history, the Cold War, migration, assimilation, loss, the abstract and the figurative, the personal and the collective, the formal and the metaphysical, are the elements that bind these works.
– Kon Trubkovich, 2015
Kon Trubkovich (b. 1979, Moscow, Russia) has exhibited nationally at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY; Zabludowicz Collection, New York, NY; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL. His work has shown internationally at Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland; the Athens Biennial of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece; The Garage Center for Contemporary Sculpture, Moscow, Russia; and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel. Leap Second, a 160 page monograph of his work, was recently published by OSMOS. Kon Trubkovich lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, and this is his second solo exhibition with OHWOW Gallery in Los Angeles.