Agnė Jokšė and Anastasia Sosunova’s Queer Eastern European Futurism, Alice Bucknell, δημοσίευση στο ArtReview [15/2/2023]Marilena Pateraki
In Dance As You Wrestle at Cell Project Space, London, paradox becomes a productive rift
In the Eastern Orthodox calendar, 19 January marks Epiphany: believers across Russia and Eastern Europe plunge themselves into frigid oceans, lakes and rivers. They bottle and consume this often-polluted water, ostensibly rendered ‘holy’ on this day, sometimes becoming ill from its ‘healing’ properties. Lithuanian artists Anastasia Sosunova and Agnė Jokšė take this paradoxical ritual as the framework for Dance As You Wrestle, which explores queer love as a counter-relic to the imperial residue of a religious practice followed primarily by ethnic Russians, with all the cultural tensions that implies.
Across videos, etchings and sculptural installations that span both gallery floors and spawn synthetic puddles on its rooftop, the artists create personal reliquaries that host unsettled histories. In Sosunova’s Express Method (2022), crushed cans and warped cardboard legs prop up an ever-greenifying plastic husk filled with water from the River Lea, one of the UK’s most polluted waterways. The tangled copper belts and burnt styrene mass of The Visitation (2022), meanwhile, cradles a cellphone that streams Sosunova’s video surveying ghosts of Russian colonial monuments. On the other side of the sculpture, a copper plate etching of two embracing saints emerges coated in temporary tattoo stickers. Conflicts between personal and familial love and the political ideologies embedded in religion abound, peaking in the collaborative sculpture Dance As You Wrestle (2022). A pile of sandbags becomes a barricade against painful family conflict: letters from Sosunova’s mother condemning her queer relationship appear here too, encased in a block of resin that humorously props up a pink sandal.