Daria Irincheeva talks about her exhibition in New York

Lenfest Center for the Arts, New York

30 April 2018 - 20 May 2018

Curated by Deborah Cullen-Morales

During my 2 years as a student within the Columbia University Masters of Fine Arts program, my goal was to expand my understanding of various techniques and media, and apply that new understanding towards the creation of works which have culminated in the selection I presented in my thesis exhibition at the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Fundamental to the conceptual aspect of the presented works is my interest in exploring avenues that lead to the ‘de-colonization of the imagination’, which is the term I use to describe the effect of cultural imprinting on our thought processes, whether as individuals, social groups, or nationalities. This ‘colonization’ is ultimately inseparable from the actual colonizations perpetrated repeatedly and throughout history by imperially-minded ethnic, national, or political entities. Moreover, the contemplation and analysis of this actual colonization cannot be limited to simply the global endeavors of the great colonizing nations of Europe or Asia, but also to the conquests and colonizations of indigenous peoples by other indigenous peoples within localized regions, as well as the colonization through such ‘soft power’ forces as literature, music and film. Last, but certainly not least, the overwhelming power of religion and the myriad tools of proselytization, strongly punctate this selection of ways in which my aforementioned ‘colonization of the imagination’ occurs.


We each as individuals live in what could be described as ‘our own worlds’, defined by the criteria which we each assign as the parameters to what we consider our chosen reality. This ‘reality’ consists of the choices we make that manifest as the ‘media bubbles’, ‘echo chambers’ and ‘feedback loops’ which prevent us from accurately perceiving the world around us. Simultaneously, we exist in a common reality defined by the attempts to record histories of moments in time that are revised and re-written as new discoveries are made, there are changes in political leadership, and undesirable elements of past realities are eliminated. This leads to the dilemma of only grasping fragments of the events around oneself, rather than clearly understanding a whole ‘picture’. Meanwhile, each culture, society, or similar subdivision of peoples make attempts towards the ‘unification of reality’ through the publication of journals, the collation of information in encyclopedias and at present through the myriad forums made possible by the internet. These attempts fuel our desire for future prognostication, which is, in actuality, our desire for an understanding of who we are, where we are, and where we’re going.


In addition to that which I discuss above about the ‘colonization’ and ultimately the ‘de-colonization’ of the imagination, my work touches upon concepts of the ‘fossilization’ of information, various means of communication and their obsolescence, attempts to decipher and understand a made-up language, and glimpses towards evolutionary forms of human non-verbal communications. My work attempts to not only illustrate the fragmented nature of reality, but to offer a thought-provoking path towards understanding through the juxtaposition and superimposition of empirically-based, rationalist methodologies with intuitive, shamanistic-alchemical representations.


With direct regard to the works in my thesis presentation, and my stated purpose of exploring the ‘de-colonization of the imagination’, my intention was to create visually striking works that tap into and stimulate some of the ‘least evolved’ parts of our being, primarily those parts of us directly relating to our sub-conscious, our collective memory and our intuition. Among the works in my presentation, there exists a unifying element which is the reference to, and inspiration from the manifestation of various culture’s and era’s tools and devices of communication, as well as my imagined conglomerations of such, none of which include actual nor accurate uses of the language, symbolism, and technology as was originally intended.


My “Quipu” for example, made of molded crystal resin, is a representation of a pre-Columbian, primarily Andean device, originally made of ropes and knots, used as an informational documentation instrument for such purposes as recording the details of a harvest, a population census, financial accounting and even the writing of poetry. I do not know the specific meanings of the various combinations of rope lengths and knots used in actual Inca or Aymara Quipu, and therefore cannot decipher the Quipu of my own creation. “Post-refraction” renders the present as fossil through the destructive transformation of a critical, internal, physical element of a contemporary LED television screen, bent and cracked and embedded in a crystal-resin base resulting in the actual calcification of perhaps the most prolific communication device of the mid to late 20th and early 21st centuries. The 29 oil on canvas paintings I present as “Syntax Hollow” (or "Empty knowledge"), are based upon actual works of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, wherein elements of their original graphic design have been excluded thus rendering them incapable of being easily recognized. The front and sides of the canvases (of various dimensions, but all approximately book-sized) are painted to resemble books, with only the backside revealing the actual nature of the works as paintings, and are shown both on the wall and on a shelf. The piece titled “Portal #12” is the representation of an imagined inter-dimensional device made of fired, unglazed ceramic, which combines elements of a made-up hieroglyphic language, re-interpreted sacred geometry, alchemical materials such as crystal and gold (substituted in the piece by crystal resin and gold leaf), resting on a painted wooden pedestal made to appear as if it is carefully balanced on the ground. Two additional ceramic pieces are mounted on the wall, titled “Forecast” and “Locus”, which contain similar elements to that of “Portal #12” such as astronomical and planetary representations and coordinates using an entirely made-up symbolism, and resemble archaeological artifacts from an alternate reality to our own.


Among these works is a piece which includes 2 banksia seed pods, one suspended from a metal rod attached to wall which hangs into the exhibition space, and the other mounted at the top of a matching metal rod which stands on the floor beside it. The banksia is an Australian wildflower, commonly used in garden arrangements that is known for its characteristic spiky cones or pods which when dried are used for woodworking and other decorative purposes. Interestingly, there exists a condition called trypophobia which is best described as an irrational and persistent fear of holes, and people suffering from trypophobia report an extreme aversion when encountering these dried flower parts. My piece in the thesis exhibition which includes these seed pods is titled, “Trypophobic?” and addresses the paradox of how these dried flowers can in one person stimulate pleasant childhood memories of spending time in one’s grandmother’s garden, and in others, pathological discomfort and disgust, thus illustrating the slippery slope that exists between that which is perceived as familiar and that which is perceived as the ‘other’.


In conclusion, these works are ultimately the result of my own attempt at the de-colonization of my own imagination, the paleo-analysis of the fossilization of my own memory, and the personal devices I have created as proxies for my own communication with the world. I nonetheless found through the opportunity and within the context of the Columbia MFA program to lay a fresh layer of sediment to my development as an artist that I hope adds to a larger, ongoing conversation, as these processes are inevitably continuous and evolving with each step forward, each new discovery, each new work.



There are two works of Daria Irincheeva in the corporate collection of Gazprombank - installation from the series "Empty knowledge" (2011-2012) and object “Quipu #8115” (2017)

Daria Irincheeva. “Quipu #8115”. 2017