WeArt gallery, Nikolina gora, Russia
The separation of social spaces in Russia often receives a quite physical realization: the fence. In the local tradition, it most often not only denied entry to a closed territory to the body of an outsider, but is also tight to the observation. The roads near Moscow go not through fields and hills, but between high fences, in their classic incarnation - green, made of profiled sheets.

Aleksey Shchigalev's exhibition shows how in the actions with the material landscape of the village the fears of the inhabitants of Nikolina Gora, historically belonging to the privileged classes of the often loyal intelligentsia and nomenklatura, before the change of the social landscape and the prospect of disruption of habitual lifestyles are expressed. To the south, Nikolina Gora is approached by the Odintsovsky District with its anthills of residential apartment buildings and land belonging to the Kuntsevo district of Moscow, the transfer of which to the latter was accompanied by rumors of the construction of elite housing there. To the east, there is an incessant invasion of Muscovites, who go to Gora to admire the pine forest and relax on the beach on the Moskva River.

In contemporary sociology, which has moved from considering supposedly purely "social" relations between people and their groups, to including material (but not necessarily tangible) objects and technology as such in the structures and cases of social interaction, the latter is considered to perform, among other things, the so-called functions of coupling and decoupling. One might say that the actions of the Nicologians, who enclose their plots with tall, sight-stopping fences, are opposed to the coupling functions of roads and bridges. According to Georg Simmel, in the case of a bridge, "the human desire for connection encounters not merely a passive separation of space [as in the case of the road], but a specifically active configuration of it. Only in this case it is a configuration not only ostensibly natural space, but also social, conditioned historically.

Is it possible that on the opposite bank of the Moskva River they will build a residential area of ugly high-rise buildings and throw in a bridge to Nikolina Gora? In his painting, Shchigalev makes assumptions about the fears and desires of the residents of Nikolaya Gora: a row of bedroom communities has grown on the other bank, and a dubious Pyatoyrochka was opened on the spot of The DIP club. The locals are definitely not ready for the prospect of such a neighborhood. As geographer Dmitry Zamyatin writes, in the modern not even a city, but a post-town, "instead of a single space, a single time (co-temporality), there appears "co-spatiality" - the proximity of very different territories and communities.

The erection of a fence at Nikolina Gora is read as a rejection of this co-spatiality, an attempt to preserve unified time and space at least within the fenced area. But even within this fenced area there are divisions. Shchigalev's exhibition opens with a wall image of a cadastral map of the village. The translation of this map into a graphic work emphasizes the connection that the legal space of the cadastre has with the space and time of the real. The cadastre records both the past, the history of the space in its relation to political and economic conditions, and the future - on the border of the cadastral plot it is likely that a fence will be erected when the owners of one plot decide to partition it. Shchigalev's cadastre becomes a portrait of property relations in the space of Nikolina Gora, a legally certified image of its history and future.

Shchigalev uses framing and blurring in his paintings based on vernacular photographs and collages made from them. In this way he abandons the fullness that indexes everything captured in the frame, and gradually clears the depicted real and fantasy spaces, thus controlling the viewer's gaze and setting him on a certain critical stance. The artist analyzes his own gaze in this way, fixing the real events he has witnessed in his memory and the fantasies that emerged as a result of processing someone else's neurosis.

One of the works shown at the exhibition is a sketch that Shchigalev developed together with the customer for a commercial fence painting job. As such, the fence not only stops the view from the outside, but also from the inside, and in some cases becomes a screen on which the fantasies of the owner of the territory are projected. The sketch shown at the exhibition is symptomatic: in it the owner asked Alexei to depict on the fence what it covers. The painted fence creates a new division, more complex: between reality and the desired. A similar division is created by the cottage built as a naive replica of a feudal castle, which Shchigalev depicts in one of his paintings. Here the architectural signs express a direct demand of the owner of the "castle" to create vertical divisions.

Text: Sergey Babkin