Press & review

Gianluca Marziani


There is no need to be afraid nor to hope, one must look for new weapons.
Gilles Deleuze

The political question is an aesthetic question, just as, vice verse, the aesthetic question is a political question.
Bernard Stiegler

Vlad Ogay poses moral dilemmas in a neurotic and depressive present.
He uses the archaic language of symbols with a high optical and cultural pervasiveness.
He favours materials that are readily available in the consumer circuit beyond the Anthropocene.
It exploits immediate and evocative semantic codes, hiding complexity under the skin of aesthetic impact.
According to the late Mark Fisher, Capitalism " a monstrous entity, plastic and infinite, capable of metabolising and absorbing any object... .... shapeless dough of everything that has already been..." Capitalism analysed by Fisher " what remains when every ideal has collapsed to the stage of symbolic or ritual processing. The result is a consumer-viewer trudging through the ruins and decays...". A radically fitting vision that certifies the state of things, that is, that there is currently no viable alternative to Capitalism, which is why we dive into the daze of the present in the absence of any evocation of the future.

Ogay acts on the fragile line of a present that does not free itself from a neo-liberal capitalism without alternatives. Fisher's thesis that we live immersed in a Capitalist Realism that closes its eyes on the future in order to strand us in an eternal present, is captured by the artists who combine the earthly fragility of the materials with the symbolic contents of an iconographic and conceptual resistance. Here is revealed the semantic relevance of Ogay's broken fragments, partial works, insistent errors as confirmation of an exercise on the unstable form of the present. If ecology and society shake, if the old certainties of a now insecure world tremble, why should not the aesthetic constructions of the visual artist shake? Why should an author aware of the present, a mirroring child of the epochal syntagma, purify himself in a neutrally digital source code, without tangible and material sensuality?

Working on the present means calibrating physical waste and electronic processes, scraps from the consumerist chain and evolutions of the digital meta-world. A 'Fisherian' artist responds to the double noise of the Planet: the metallic and plastic noise of collective hardware, of the multiple fragments of a Babel now in vertical collapse; the subliminal and silent noise of collective software, of that system between silicon and Bluetooth that governs the generational ecosystem. The artist as a melting bridge, a liminal bridge that mixes abrasive and rubbery, elastic and rigid, blinding and dark, material and spiritual. Fisher writes: "Capitalist realism implies that we subject ourselves to an infinitely plastic reality, capable of reconfiguring itself as and when it wishes." The 'new' artist, without bearing the burden of the impossible novelty, creates mobile and unstable forms, incoherent by reborn coherence, elusive of binary logics; an artist, to be clear, who is reborn from the inhabitable ashes of this incoherent but inescapable today, therefore 'new' by necessary choice, adapted to a society that must decrease production to increase virtuous recycling, so as to propose universal seeds and roots with a form that has the genetics and fetishism of the new millennium.

Announcing (without predicting) tomorrow can only be done with one method: recovering the archetypes with the greatest ideological, social and cultural significance, fishing in the territory of the past that looms in the formulas of the present. This means being able to act from a certain landing place, rich in memory and simplifications, theoretical frameworks and practical examples. At the same time, the retromaniac retrieval of certain cadavre exquis supports our reflection on an uncertain tomorrow that arises within the form of the nostalgic present. Ogay acts in the filtering network of the consumerist present, between lateral and insubstantial objects that draw new figurations, an overturning of the functional logic that animated a barbed wire, a bar of soap, a cardboard box, disposable containers, some cutlery and utensils... Now the forms of waste are transformed into the shining souls of a technoprimitive vision, where the téchne reformulates manual skill in a today that seemed to forget the slow craftsmanship, seminal traits, generative anthropologies.

The seed and the roots contain the mnemonic marrow of humanity, a compressed mass that Ogay uses to trace his secular stories, his perceptive souls, his meagre and essential icons, synthetic as if they were vital skeletons that pronounce warnings and directions. Let it be clear that this is not a nostalgic quotation from Ogay, if anything, it is a reasonable awareness of the impassable boundaries of capitalist realism. Instead, I would speak of post-traumatic activation of the symbolic sign, a new pulsation within the archetype, an adaptation of the ancient symbol to the psychosphere of the new collective unconscious. The artist acts on the territory that philosopher Franco Bifo Berardi calls the 'third unconscious'. This is the present world in which the infosphere takes on the burden of terrestrial extinction, starting from a definitive awareness (consciousness) that the pandemic collapse has (pre)announced to us in a mild form. "When I speak of the third age of the unconscious," says Bifo, "I am referring to an open future that will be shaped by our awareness, our poetic imagination and the therapeutic and political action that we will be able to perform as we find ourselves in transition, on the threshold."

The Cross becomes the pulsating heart of Vlad Ogay's form/look. I used the term crucifixion to bring the discourse to the ground of the present, avoiding rhetoric around the dramas hidden behind certain crosses. The geometric theme of the cross thus enters the walled border of the Fisherian present, within an infographic system that has transcended ideologies and dogmatisms but without alternatives to capital. Within a ubiquitous and liquefied system, even the cross frees itself from its rigid stylistic features, its atavistic and esoteric meanings. It thus becomes a cross in continuous flexion, a soft subject that does not break but changes skin and skeleton, adapting itself to social cracks, to antagonistic interstices, to the borders of nomadism. An object of reconquest of the symbolic, to be inhabited with fluid and non-binary cultures, to be fed with resilient ideas and resistant actions.

Ogay's view of other sensitive archetypes begins from the cross. The madonnas of Russian icons, the matrioshka dolls with their chain parthenogenesis, the auras of shining sanctity, the domes of Orthodox churches: these are some of the cultural forms that are processed in a ubiquitous and slippery system, where materials of fragile simplicity simulate the semantic perimeters of the objects in question, recalling memory with a process of empty and full, closed and unfinished, attractive and repelling. Each work embodies a merciless view of social injustice, of the abuses of all regimes, of the prevarication that destroys civic communities; at the same time, the hardness of the vision leaves room for compassion, for a sort of Franciscan relevance that distances all aesthetic cosmetics, bringing the discourse onto the level of iconographic symbols, of magnets of meaning that attract equations for an ethical present.

Vlad Ogay crosses capitalist realism with a particular anagraphic relevance: his Korean origin is mixed with his Russian existence, producing a cultural bridge that shapes a generational code of (possible) historical change. It is precisely the 'bridge' artists who enact that dialogue that overcomes geographical customs to generate a language of transit and displacement, mobilising old and new archetypes, stitching together the plots broken by History. The result speaks to us of a militant and silent language, in constant dialogue with the speaking voids that the white wall recreates, a language that is alive and flowing, crudely stripped bare yet luminous from within, proof of a soul that guides the works in their system of adaptive arrangements.

In a world where Francis Fukuyama has declared the end of History, Ogay's anthropological value is that of a ferryman moving sediments and treasures on the bridge between past and future. If History reaches its climax today, the 'new' artist acts as a philosophical child of Noam Chomsky, producing new linguistics (hence new works) with the alphabets of millenary consistency.