Installation of 12 chromogenic prints, pedestal with men’s ties
Corruption. Apotheosis is a sardonic reflection on the condition of Moscow in the 1990s, the failures of glasnost, and the bitter ironies of the perestroika era, absurdly combining glamor with the macabre in a deadpan style as an exercise in visual contradiction. The installation is composed of twelve life-sized photographs depicting stereotypically serious businessmen and officials (including two modeled by the artists Lev Evzovich and Evgeny Svyatsky). While their number generates a subtle allusion to the twelve apostles, they nonetheless maintain their nihilistic ennui as cyphers of corrupt, amoral countenance: unmoved at even their own evisceration and the true agents of their own demise, they express the artists’ emphasis on Western man’s urge toward self-annihilation. Arranged as an open dodecagon, this installation additionally features a pedestal placed at the center supporting a ceremonious pile of neckties belonging to the figures in the images. The men each present their bowels to the viewer with relaxed facial expressions in a grotesque display inspired by detailed eighteenth-century anatomical wax sculptures.
Corruption. Apotheosis premiered in 1996 at the First International Month of Photography in Moscow (Photobiennial 96), staged at the Moscow House of Artists. Subsequently, the work was included in AES Today at Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw in 1997, in Tallin’s Eleventh Print Triennial in 1998, and finally in AES+F’s mid-career retrospective at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg in 2007.