Before viewing the show please carefully read and follow these instructions

 You are about to see the work of an artist whose name is Zhanna Gladko.
 Respect the artworks.
 Keep in mind they are not protected from external impacts.
 Be careful when watching them at close range.
 Pay attention to the fact that you are seeing these works for the first time.
 Think of this new encounter.
 Be informed that the exhibited works were produced at different times in different places.
 Do not treat the images you are about to see simply as photographs.
 Consider them as art objects.
 Take time to thoroughly observe the artworks.
 Do not hasten to make judgments on what you see.
 Note that the image you look at may not be a self-portrait but something else or something beyond a self-portrait.
 Feel free to leave comments when leaving the show.
 Keep in mind that it was not the artist’s intention to produce extraordinary images.
 Capture the feeling emerging when you recognize something familiar behind the image you are viewing.
 Meditate on what that familiarity suggests.
 Make a connection between the image and the art object.
 Imagine that the work of art may have its own intentions.
 Contemplate the subject of art.
 Note that instructions informed some of the works in this show.
 Note that most of the instructions herewith are applicable to viewing any work of art.
 Recognize the necessity for these kinds of instructions.
 Start to view the show.
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Untitled Self-Portraits
2011 – 2016

Janna Gladko started this ever-extending series in 2011. An outstanding exercise on decoding and transcoding famous cultural icons this imagery suggests portraits of the Self rather than self-portraits. Produced at different times in different contexts the images play around the ambiguity of various cultural icons. By decoding and transcoding the artist renders them uncanny simulacra. Strange and alien they yet convey something very familiar. This familiarity makes the imagery vulnerable for it infuses even more aggression into the gaze of the viewer. The captured, however, is a new creation that emerges in projecting a familiar character, narrative or iconic image through the prism of particular artistic criticality. Hence the images appear not as interpretations but rather a tool that makes an interpretation possible, a tool that is inciting force.

Printed on stainless steel plates the images are subject and at the same time reflective to the environment. Any insignificant variation of the light or temperature or humidity and even a slight motion of air may bring on a substantial change in their appearance. This delicacy of the photographic plate as an object echoes the fragility of the image now reconstituted and manifested in the sensible. The fragility and exposure seem to support the incitation element of the work.

Due to their mirroring surface the plates reflect the confronting face of an intent viewer who may appear a part of this interplay between reflections and projections, between the Self and Image. This reflectivity of the plates suggests yet another possibility for remediation of the image, a strategy which the artist repeatedly deploys.

Fragment from the project “Inciting Force”,
Solo show, Dalan art gallery,
Yerevan, 2016

The Dismantled Piano
2015

In the autumn of 2014 Zhanna Gladko’s father destroyed the piano which as a child she would use to learn playing music. She was not in Minsk when her father started destroying the musical instrument, however, upon her return she witnessed the last stage of its destruction. She managed to record on a video (shown in the first hall) how her father was dismantling the piano consistently, piece by piece, into tiny details. Maybe, he was feeling guilty for what he did and that is why he did not forbid the artist to film this process, hence, he became an “actor” of his own “performance.” In the exhibition of 2014 Zhanna Gladko destroyed her father’s hunting bandolier and by destruction tried to reach a creative reconciliation. The same happened when the musical instrument was destroyed – he did not just destroy the piano, in his opinion he left the most valuable parts of it, pedals and strings, to her and also created a table with few of the details.

Zhanna Gladko is presenting an installation consisting of the objects “created” by her father – strings that were saved, two pedals of the piano, the table and the video documentation of her father’s “action,” accompanied by the sound of destructing the musical instrument. She is intensifying the representation and conceptual codes of the “found objects” by making the strings as the symbol of the relationship in time and the pedals – as metaphors for a dialogue. The artist tried to overcome the documental character of the collected material. The installation is enriched with a sound recording, where we hear how young Zhanna is learning Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Children’s Album” piano miniatures: “The Sick Doll,” “The Doll’s Funeral,” “The New Doll.”

Fragment from the project “Inciting Force”,
exhibition Social Grille (Социальная решетка)
Contemporary art gallery Ў,
Minsk, 2015

Father’s Museum
2011-2012

In 2012, at the contemporary art gallery Ў in Minsk the artist presented a collection of objects from her family archive. This way the exhibition became a quasi-museum exposition dedicated to her relationship with her father, an artistic research of the power category. It was the first presentation of the project “Inciting Force.”

The exhibition was telling about the artist’s conflict with her father: from the childhood when she was a doppelganger of her father, who would teach driving, hunting and fishing to Zhanna; to the time when they started to part, when according to him she started to be a stranger and became the other. Specifically for this project, the artist took gunpowder out of the bullets and mixed it with the dust she had collected in her parents’ apartment, hence, destroyed her father’s bandolier. According to the research that says that in texts men use more verbs, while women use more adjectives, Zhanna Gladko “destroyed” every verb in the instructions left by her father (shte sewed the clothes and muted audio recordings).

A fragment from the project “Inciting Force”,
solo show, contemporary art gallery Ў,
Minsk, 2012

Double Self-Portrait
2015

The installation consisting of Zhanna Gladko’s two self-portraits included a projection of the quote as a part:

“Simon Peter said to Him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.”
Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” The Gospel of Thomas

As she quotes “The Gospel of Thomas” highlighting the incompleteness and the innate sin of women, the artist works around her own body and opens many stereotypes and cliches that dominate in the patriarchal society. For three months she did special exercises for arm muscles. The self-portrait shows her before and after working out.

Fragment from the project “Inciting Force”,
Exhibition All that is Solid Dissolves in the Air (Всё, что твердое, растворяется в воздухе),
Maxim Bogdanovich Literature Museum,
Minsk, 2015


Zhanna Gladko is a representative of young generation of Belarusian artists. Through different media she works on the topics that concern gender in the context of current feminist theory, among others. She lives and works in Minsk (Belarus). During 2002-2009 she studied at Belarusian State Academy of Arts.

Through constructing ambivalent images, all of her works are aimed at rethinking/deconstructing large notions like gender politics and patriarchy, religion and culture, art system and society. Moreover, by researching topics from her personal experience, Zhanna Gladko simultaneously highlights the urgency of these topics. In order to criticize the patriarchal system in Belarus, she creates the series of self-portraits which give actuality to many painful topics or create personal collection of objects and documentation of actions. Through these Zhanna Gladko’s relationship and conflict with her father is being re-evaluated.

“Inciting Force” is her key work. Experts of “Kalektar” – the Platform for Researching Contemporary Art of Belarus, have nominated this work among the 40 most influential works within the last 50 years of art in Belarus.

The current show includes only four major works from “Inciting Force” which besides the historical connection appear in an aesthetic interplay with different features of the force.

Special thanks to Dalan art gallery, Eva Khachatryan, and Nvard Yerkanian for supporting the organization of the show.

The show is sponsored by Lucie Abdalian.
Curator: Harutyun Alpetyan
Yerevan, June 2016

Contact Zhanna Gladko

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