Nura Petrov, Conceptual Artist and Sculptor

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Gift (and Three Gifts)
From a current day perspective Dada might be seen as a specialized form of conceptual art; one that seeks to undermine belief in existing systems through the use of humor and absurdity.

Taking a cue from Duchamp's LHOOQ, a.k.a. "Mona Lisa with moustache", some of my objects refer to more recent art historical icons such as Man Ray's Gift (Cadeau) and Manet's Picnic in the Grass. My Gift is an updated version of the Man Ray. Perhaps its humor is blacker, in that its danger is greater. I've encased an electric iron in a seemingly cuddly bundle whose fabric consists of the found material of men's shirts including collars and front buttons. The pale pastel tonality and rounded, soft shape ironically belie the fact that the iron's plug stands ready to be inserted in a wall outlet at which time the object can begin to sizzle and smoke. In the process of its self-destruction the gallery and or museum/exhibition space in which it's placed would be under attack along with the many systems that support artificial definitions of art as a pretty, decorative commodity.

A picnic hamper and its contents: plates,cups, utensils, wine glasses etc. are bound and tied in torn sheeting in such a way that the interior is inaccessible, its food unattainable and satisfaction unavailable. This object makes fun of the cliched parodies of Manet's excellent painting along with the cultural norm and market place's encouragement of instant gradification.

Three gifts carries its metaphor further by referring to the religious establishment's myth of wise, generous, kings bestowing gifts on a child of special potential: a myth that helped systematize and make brittle some of man's best feelings. Their gifts and finding of the child are both suspect because of the hypocrisy, wars and cruelity that accured over the centuries following their discovery. Three Gifts is also something of a shell game: only one of the two short "packages" contains an iron and the tall one encases a lamp. (The light of the world smothered? The lamp of Diogenes,the world's first well known Dadaist, who was thwarted in his continuing search for an honest man?) These are pretty packages containing dire messages. All authority and its hidden harmful agendas should be constantly challenged.

Kitchen Bundle is seated on a familiar, seemingly comfortable chair in a style that reminds us of another era perhaps grandma's kitchen? It is the size of a bag of groceries or a toddler, either of which might be placed there as a temporary condition before the pleasurable activity to follow. Although the implied setting is congenial the bundle itself is somewhat sinister and mysterious. We are given no clue as to its contents. What venom lies within?

Assemblage's humor resides in being absolutely literal. Unlike  Robert Rauschenberg, Max Ernst and other earlier practitioners (of what has become an official art genre) who used disparate objects and images as parts of a unified artistic statement I attempt to parody the genre itself. Here the component parts of the assembling process: the clamps, rough unfinished pieces of wood and glue are themselves the sculpture. Space and volume and the variable juxtapositions of materials such as wood and metal partake of traditional sculptural values. But they deliberately lack the propriety of traditional sculpture. Assemblage is an impolite but truthful presence...someone who crashed the party.

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Picnic in the Grass

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Kitchen Bundle

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