Anastasia Zhikhartseva, Göteborg

I'm an artist from Russia. I graduated from Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts and continue my artistic practice mostly as a painter including printing, sculpture and performance.

I've arrived in Björkö on 14th of April 2022

from Saint Petersburg – directly from the big city to the birch island, from the paranoid atmosphere of repressed protests to the calm solitude of swan lakes. I couldn't get rid of the tension which has resulted in the total installation after a month in Björkö.

The window with a red curtain moved by the wind was surrounded by two 3 meters long paintings on fabric: "Smoke" (as if it comes from the window) – is dedicated to Russian invasion in Ukraine as we know it from social media – endless images of burning houses. "Omon" (Russian riot police in action) from the other side. On the opposite wall a performance "Reddening/ Работа красным" was projected. On the 1th of May I made this with a local birch, used as an innocent symbol of Russia which I rubbed with a disgusting substance made of ground beetroot. Then I tried to wash it off with a sap taken from the same birch. The sap became the essence of the symbol – the cleansing spirit of Russian culture and nature. But, during the process of reddening the birch, the sap has also turned red. Finally it wasn't able to wash anything. It is a bitter and terrifying metaphor: not only to wash the innocence in somebody's blood, but also to wash it in its own spirit which got mixed with the blood.

I feel this performance as a very literal solitude cry about my own identity which was challenged during Putin's speech who tried to justify the invasion in Ukraine on the 21th of February. I have always felt a deep connection to my country. I'm Russian against the war. I can not doubt my sense of national belonging which stays with me in another country with another birch. This performance due to its place of origin can not be interpreted as a protest action – just a muted scream in the void. I feel deprived – temporarily in safety, outside of my country which I don't perceive the same as before, seeing the war planes over Björkö - presumably paving their way to NATO two weeks after my performance.

I showed the installation at BKN on the 17th of May.

Now I live and continue my artistic practice in Gothenburg, Sweden working with metal, printmaking and painting. I return to Björkö as my mother residency from time to time to meet people and make some new work.

Title: Redding (Работа красным)

Media: performance, video

Artist: Anastasia Zhikhartseva