Rostan Tavasiev – It’s Complicated (2013 –Current)
“Hidden Hikkimori is an eccentric character of an uneven temper. Even being almost completely hidden inside the box, he has a very strong voice and tends to manifest his opinions in a very peculiar way. He is controversial: on the one hand, he seems to be frustrated being surrounded by people and other art-objects, on the other, he suffers when he doesn’t get the attention he feels he deserves. Hidden is a grumpy intellectual who likes to play cool and sometimes seems even arrogant, but in reality, the effect is caused by Hidden’s insecurity and his character’s extreme sensibility.”
Does an artwork speak? Does it have a personality? And if so, would it have a gender? Where would its political affiliations lie? Questions on the make-up of the individual self is something artist Rostan Tavasiev has been investigating through his project It’s Complicated (2013 – Current). In this series of seven sculptures, Tavasiev created a Facebook profile for each artwork, complete with names, personalities, and individual ambitions. And through this gesture the artist has created a project which interrogates the spatial dimension an artwork inhabits. This presents a different understanding of space as ‘time and space,’ and begins to incorporate the idea of distance into its fold. Take the example Hidden Hikkimori, the artwork Tavasiev provided for “PILproject 2.0: Russia. Be blinded by an inner light,” who inhabits the Visual Research Centre’s (Scotland) exhibition space, the Facebook platform and its 5 global data centres, and finally the PILproject website. moreover, this spatial manipulation becomes even more amplified when taking into account the location of the artist’s team responsible for the animation of Hidden Hikkimori’s character on Facebook, which ranges from Moscow (Russia) all the way to Mexico City (Mexico).
In this sense, Hidden Hikkimori’s character on Facebook becomes the main nexus for the dissemination of art – instigating users and audiences to explore art through dimensions online and offline. In Addition, the artwork’s verbal articulations present a new mode of distribution for the artist’s voice, which is a key tool in the political spectrum we live in today. Yet in the particular case of Russia, communities both online and offline have found their access to the electronic superhighway restricted on various accounts. Understandably, Russia and various ex-Soviet Block areas in Eastern Europe have a suspicious view of the Internet, because of its American military origins (ARPANET) and the consumerist ideology attached to it (Greene, 2004: 52), which is a point of friction particularly for Russia. And here in lies the question: how has the artist’s voice been affected by the subtle increase of legislation restricting Internet content, by watchdog Roskomnadzor?
Greene, R. (2004) Internet Art. London: Thames & Hudson.