Business as Usual: Oakland/Moscow
in collaboration with Salomeya Sobko. Two channel video installation.
Worth Ryder Gallery, UC Berkeley. September 2016.
A two channel video installation presents a visual record of a joint, binational intervention in "public" spaces of capitalist consumption. The artists, Moscow-born siblings, perform unsolicited cleaning services in grocery stores. On the left (Moscow, Russia), staff suspect that the gesture is an "advertising campaign" and expel the artist from the grocery store, relegating her gesture to the street. Meanwhile, on the right (Oakland, CA), five hours of uninterrupted cleaning on Labor Day brings the artist deep into the bowels of the store.
Beyond negotiating the distance and displacement the artists themselves experience as re-diasporized subjects and sisters, the joint gesture also serves as a dialectic between two historically contentious capitalist contexts. In the U.S., the racialized nature of capitalism reveals itself as the artist's whiteness grants her access and safety. In Russia, deviance is immediately shut down.
The symbolism of the act hints at the vanity of neoliberal “philanthropic” interventions (e.g. volunteering, buy x and save the earth), while looking toward the radical capacity of labor, performed outside of capitalist modes of production, to symbolically and/or materially interrupt capitalist logics.