Tablets i-Vii  

Brutal Dreams
Shtager Sh, London
July 2023 - August 2023

Jesmonite and Steel 

Concrete Whispers, Brutal Dreams:Kirill Chelushkin & Emma Papworth

The longing for certainty and control over one’s fate and future has accompanied societies for millennia, and the twentieth century marked a new chapter in this longing through the advent of the roaming new technologies, materials, and deterministic beliefs in the total knowability of the world by the power of men’s mind. From ancient prediction rituals to contemporary foresight reports, the traditions of materializing the tomorrow in the form of a sketch’ is ubiquitous in cultures worldwide. Popperian logical positivism in science and humanities solidified quasi-religious beliefs in cultural and political identities as static ‘facts’ to be reflected in the concrete on the streets and the multiannual plans for development and control of the future on paper.

But all these dreams of certainty soon crashed under the weight of evolving adaptive complexity of the world. Plans dissolved, architectures abandoned, ideologies forgotten, and dreams dissipated. But the aesthetics of longing for structural vision, certainty, and signification of the larger purpose and meaning did not disappear. Instead, it shattered into pieces which migrated into the subconscious and started to penetrate reality on the micro level. Just like the society of the late, these dreams are atomized and individualized.

Against the backdrop of the impossible archive of visions about deterministic control and planning, the material dialogue between Kirill Chelushkin and Emma Papworth creates a somewhat uncanny synergy. Chelushkin’s monochromatic paintings, ranging in theme from architectural sketches to everyday life and office scenes, masterfully capture the eerie feeling of personal and collective ruination of the imaginary. Papworth’s sculptural and installation practice animates the aesthetic essence of the ancient totemism in the brutalist architecture and design of the last century: the feeling of calm assertion and a static impression of contra-temporality.

Their works present a multidimensional material and mental landscape of a deterministic vision of civilization and its recurring discontents. From the ruins of the unrealized futures, which promise static ‘stability’ and unchanging ‘normality,’ the exhibition presents itself as an entombed garden of visionary desires. But among that cenotaphic context, in the cracks of the building, on the corners of the sketches and beneath the foundation of the maquettes, there is a complex ecology of possible, a possible promise of renewal and a profound lesson about the impossibility to encapsulate the life and its richness within the containments of human’s limited mental landscape.

Text by Denis Maksimov-Gupta