Freefall

Varvara Keidan Shavrova, Inna’s Dream. 2019 Hand tufted Axminster wool carpet objects, digital embroidery on velvet, acrylic and emulsion on wall. 7 m x 5.5 m x 4 m. In 1930 my great uncle, Vadim Borisovitch Shavrov, a well-known Soviet engineer and author, designed and built the first Soviet amphibious plane Sh-2 in his apartment in Petrograd. Between 1934 and 1964 the Sh-2 flying boat was used by the agricultural, medical and military sectors, as well as in exploration of the Arctic. In my recent installation Inna’s Dream, I reinterpret the Sh-2 by rendering it in carpet and textiles. This demilitarized and domesticized version of a deflated military machine echoes the collapsed Soviet dreamworld, while the materials I use comment on women’s labour.

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

We have no control. Our days are filled with motion for which we often take credit, actions we believe to have defined and executed of our own free will. And yet there is, at the very base of things, nothing but chaos that we have learned to deftly navigate. The neat lines of each day spin out of control more often than we may care to admit. However frustrating or frightening this may feel, the ability to allow each moment to wash over us, free of expectations and open to the unexpected, is the stuff of a rich, fulfilling life.

Varvara Keiden Shavrova spoke to us from Berlin in late August. She reported improvement from the time she arrived in early April of this year during the height of the lockdown. Whereas the city was closed off and deserted and people seemed scared, now, she says, the city has opened up with admission to museums and galleries once more allowed and cafes and restaurants brimming with guests once more. In terms of her artistic practice, the lockdown slowed her pace considerably. Despite having ample time to work, there was a void that she – like many artists – did not find conducive to creating art. In the month before we spoke, things had just begun to pick up with some shows coming up and she has begun working again in some small ways, examining surveillance as it relates to flight. To hear more about her work, including a knitted parachute she’s collaborating on, listen to the complete interview.

Nathan Hoks is a poet whose most recent book, Nests in Air, was published in 2021 by Black Ocean Press. Living in Chicago, he reports a mixed landscape when it came to the lockdown period. While some didn’t enjoy this time, Hoks found the ability to stay home to be a refreshing change from his usual commute. The pandemic exacerbated some of the themes of his recent book – namely the compressions of homelife. The parent of small children, his experience of lockdown was strongly infused with the daily labor of parenting. This coupled with learning how to teach online proved a steep curve in the beginning of lockdown. To hear more about this, his published works and live readings of poems from Nests in Air, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Perhaps learning to give in more easily is a better way to make our way along the path of life.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. When we spoke, Varvara Keiden Shavrova was reading a Russian translation of Rainer Maria Rilke poems. Books by Nathan Hoks can be found here.

Deadlines:

The 19th annual Smithsonian Photo Contest is accepting submissions in multiple categories. Eight prizes will be awarded in spring 2022, including a grand prize of $2,500, six category prizes of $500 each and a reader’s choice prize of $500. For full details and to submit your work, visit the website. Deadline for submissions is November 30.

From 24 June to 20 August 2021, Marian Goodman Gallery and Holt/Smithson Foundation will present the first exhibition of Robert Smithson’s work in the gallery’s New York space. The exhibition, Abstract Cartography, will focus on a crucial five-year period in Smithson’s development: 1966 to 1971, a time when his “inklings of earthworks” began. This careful selection of artworks will trace Smithson’s radical rethinking of what art could be and where it could be found.

Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius, and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius. His book, Making it in the Art World, is available now with bonus content here.

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