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  • Source: Dazed Magazine
  • Author: Ashleigh Kane
  • Date: January 16, 2015
  • Format: DIGITAL

Kon Trubkovich on mining memory

The Russian-born artist on re-appropriating footage from Ronald Reagan’s infamous 1987 Brandenburg Gate speech for his latest exhibition

Kon Trubkovich, Eye of a Man Going Blind Smaller, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and the gallery.

Russian-born artist Kon Trubkovich attributes the influence behind his artworks not to his native upbringing but instead to the immigration process he went through when he was just a child – moving to America from the USSR in 1990, at just 11 years old; “That immigration obviously made a huge impact on me – more than my Russian background. I think that this event in my life influences a lot of the work that I make now. It made me very aware of the nature of memory.” That awareness has – for over a decade – posited itself in an almost-obsessive act of collating found footage taken from the internet alongside his own candid home movies – “in order to mine a way into the elusive nature of memory”. The footage is then tranferred onto 35mm film, on which Trubovich makes markings on the celluloid itself; “That connected the films to my painting practice in a way that was not there before.” Explaining this process in more detail, he says, “I really like the authenticity and a kind of intimate texture of it [the footage]. That is what I am looking for right now, so it does not make sense to film my own. I am sure that as my intentions shift with time I will begin to film again. For now, I see the films I make as sculptures.”

Kon Trubkovich, A Lump of Grief Smaller, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and the gallery.

In Trubkovich’s latest exhibition at L.A’s OHWOW Gallery, the artist has created six new pieces of work – part of his “Reagan” series – from footage re-appropriated from the ex-President’s 1987 Brandenburg Gate speech where he asked Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. The paintings are made by, Trubkovich explains; “pausing various VCRs and photographing the television screen. Those images are then manipulated in the computer and repainted on canvas.” The show also features a five-channel film called “House of the Rising Sun,” a project sparked by Trubkovich’s ongoing interest in searching for footage online – on this occasion, Russian speakers singing American songs. He describes; “I felt a kinship with this negation of language”. As with the “Reagan” series, coupled with his previous works featuring his mother, the artist hopes that that the viewer can transcend the static and the noise of a foreign language and reach into their own conciousness, ultimately pulling something much more personal from it.

House of the Rising Sun will be on show from 17 January until 14 February, 2015.