Visual Artist 

My artistic practice is based on curiosity for history and power relationships in a developing imaginary world where fiction and non-fiction meet.  The female gaze on the male body of power is a recurring theme. The works are shaped in a multi media manner which helps me to explore ideas in various forms. 

Little My
/ drawing series / pencil & paper / 2017

 

 

This series was commissioned by the residency program of Asematila (Helsinki) and curated by Oceane Bruel, Sanna Ritvanen, Sandra Lindblom, Alli Mattila and Johanna Kalberg. In the context of the project, I was asked to choose a Finish artist and draw a parallel between mine and her/his work. I chose to explore the work and persona of Tove Jansson. It was a challenge because Jansson is a national treasure of Finland. What could I show which is surprising what can I further unveil?
With this work, I wanted to place in the centre aspects of Jansson's life which she was not able to openly speak and express in her lifetime due to social and political norms. Through this work, I formed a bond with a female artist which I began to admire and relate to.

The work is two-fold on one hand it studies Jansson's fine artwork which was never well received, unlike her illustrations and comics. At the time, women were still not accepted as equals in the male-dominated high art world. Jansson's female love partners whom she needed to previously hide are given a central position. Despite the secrecy of their relationships  Tuulikki Pietilä and Vivica Bandler had a major role in Jansson's formation as a person and an artist. 

On the other hand a parallel is drawn with the fantasy world of Jansson and my own. Where both of us explore in a playful way political and social issues of our different times and generations.

Het Aanzien Van // The Face Of 
/ drawing series / paper & pencil and charcoal / 2016 - 2019

While scouting for interesting materials in my local second-hand store I found a book titled Het Aanzien Van 45-50 (The Face Of 45-50). The book in my hands was an overview of global and Dutch news which happened between 1945 to 1950. From its cover, a colour image of the first atomic bomb attack over Hiroshima was staring at me. Later I understood this book is part of a series published by Amsterdam Boek and Het Spectrum. Besides the years during WWI and WW2 which have been presented in three books altogether, the following books are published annually showcasing the most important Dutch and world events from 1950 until today.

My obsession with history, fear of reoccurring disasters and wish to learn from the past intrigued me to collect and archive the full series of Het Aanzien Van. Even though not yet complete this collection is rich in images and stories positive and negative which are uncannily similar to the news of today. When an event from the book matches to contemporary news, I make a drawing of it. These drawings combine the realities of past and present. They reflect the personal contemplation of what actions to take in order to be an active citizen in historical happenings which are often ungraspable for an individual.

This type of working method relates to Marlene Dumas according to her (and I very much agree) 'Second-hand images, can generate first-hand emotions.' Het Aanzien Van plays with the emotions of the viewer and their own experiences of historical events, news, as well as memories, which all part take in the formation of a narrative.

Dictator Nia Wants You
Mixed media installation and performance / Praediniussingel Groningen Museum / 100m2 / 2014 - 2015

This work was made just before the right wing parties rose globally. Following political developments, I recognized radical and antisemitic tendencies. In order to comprehend the political landscape, I dove into researching causes and behaviours of Bulgarian dictator regime, USSR, as well as, cold war fear in Germany. Usually, people are hesitant to speak about politics with strangers. With this work, I wanted to create a space which provokes and opens up a conversation. 

 

When time passes by, what is left by a certain era is the architecture and monuments with which we continue to live. The big sculptures resemble the once celebrating the Soviet regime. But my sculptures are made out of papier mache. Despite their big and scary look, these sculptures are also fragile. These sculptures are prototypes for my GMO army. These are my HYPER humans! They serve the regime of Niaism!

++++Faces of power ++++
artist book /collage / paper / ink / 2015

Anthropometry is a pseudo-science that refers to the measurement of the human individual.
In the past anthropometry has been practised by Europeans to measure the features of 'new races' conquered during the ‘Age of Discovery’. Essentially in the 19th Century, scientific power and legitimacy were granted to male individuals with a European background. Anthropometry was a tool used to suppress different ethnicities and women, by relating their physical appearance to animals (e.g. monkeys) thus further consolidating European male dominance as natural.  In the publication Faces of Power, I play with anthropometry and take it into my own hands. Turn it 180 degrees and instead of being suppressed, measured and controlled by the males in power, I measure and investigate them.

SisterHOOD
drawing series / paper / pencil / ink / 2018

Sisterhood is location-based drawing series made for Rotterdam intiative HUIS. I got to know the space of HUIS through my friendship with musician and curator Jo Alexander. In HUIS our girl gang gathers to share happiness, sorrow, and hard work. These experiences naturally evolved into artworks dealing with the themes of sisterhood, female friendship, and the search of body positivity. 

For me HUIS is a strong project because it focuses on the sense of community and everyday life; this lens brings inclusion and warmth into the art world which is often too institutionalized and unreachable.

© 2019 Nia Konstantinova