Elena Kovylina’s new project:
“Carotte culturelle”

Danilovsky market, Moscow

22 May 2018 - 27 May 2018

Elena Kovylina. Performance “Carotte culturelle” . 2017. Central market. Vyksa.

The artist, ten of whose video performances are in Gazprombank’s corporate collection, speaks about her new project.

The “Carotte culturelle” (“Cultured Carrot”) project is an attempt to provide contemporary art with the opportunity to assert itself in a situation of “cultural isolation”, to meet viewers halfway, inviting them to look on familiar everyday images as objects of so-called “high culture”.

The title of the project plays upon the multiple meanings of the term “culture” itself, since not only in Russian, but also in other European languages, it can apply to both the spiritual and the material spheres, to both artistic creativity and the tilling of the soil.

Due to the particular way civilization has developed in Russia, contemporary art as a phenomenon of the post-industrial world is having difficulty growing in our country. After a long and active life in some of the cultural capitals of the world – Moscow, Berlin, Zurich, Paris and Los Angeles, seven years ago I moved permanently to a village outside Moscow…

Elena Kovylina. Performance “Carotte culturelle” . 2017. Central market. Vyksa.

My observations over those years indicate that the minimum subsistence level for the majority of the population does not include elements of a cultural life or any need for culture as such – except in the “agrarian” meaning of the word, relating to berries, fruit and vegetables. Cultivating those things on their little private plots of land is the main occupation for the bulk of the people. Planting seeds or seedlings, weeding and harvesting – that is the unvarying rotation of the display in Russia’s “cultural” landscape.

The aim of the project is to establish a dialogue between the populace and art, to create an interaction of cultures, agrarian and artistic, contemporary informational (the culture of the new media) and traditional agricultural, and also to overcome the isolation of the general population in Russia from current artistic processes.

Elena Kovylina. Performance “Carotte culturelle” . 2017. Central market. Vyksa.

The project presents a series of painted depictions of agrarian cultures in a botanical style (the plants are presented on a white background, conceptually, as an object) and small original pictures featuring vegetables, fruit and berries in a botanical style.

They were first exhibited at the Central Market in the town of Vyksa one Sunday in 2017 (with support of the Art-Ovrag residency). Images close to heart of an ordinary person – beetroot, dill, gooseberries, etc. – were displayed immediately alongside their prototypes.

Now I have again chosen not museum, but a market for the exhibition of a new series in the work “Carotte culturelle”.


Elena Kovylina


The Gazprombank corporate art collection includes ten video performances by Elena Kovylina, “one of the most striking female artists of the 2000s, virtually the only one on the Moscow art scene continuing the radical performance tradition of the 1990s” (I. Kulik, Kommersant). They include Égalité (“Equality”) (2010), in the course of which the artist arranged men and women of different ages, ethnicities and professions in a row on stools whose legs were cut down so as to make the people equal in height and similar to each other. Red Pomegranates (2010) and Green Apples are also connected with the products of the soil, patriarchal traditions and with the fruits of civilization.