Market, secret


Maxim Trulov and Ksyusha Lastochka
CURE-ALL, 2021

Wood, acrylic, lamps, paper, twine
Van: 240×160×310 cm, figure: 170×50×140 cm
Courtesy of the artists

Nizhny-Novgorod-based street artist duo Maxim Trulov and Ksyusha Lastochka are best known for their black-and-white cut- outs, murals, and ceramics. Like comic books, their works tell stories of imaginary worlds populated with knights, Vikings, giants, skateboarders, and fantastical creatures. In these vaguely familiar images, largely borrowed from western mass culture, there are memories of the scare stories and urban legends of 1990s Russia, such as tales about three-headed fish and other mutants living in the sewers.

During the spring months of the pandemic, Trulov and Lastochka occupied themselves with the development of a new universe, the inhabitants of which had been forced to move into individual wheeled homes. Due to the pressure of epidemiological regulations, cities turned into car parks, with trailer schools, trailer cafés, and trailer noodle shops. Their artistic forecast was partly correct: during Russia’s hybrid quarantine in fall, many people realized that a private car was a sanitary stronghold. The work featured in the exhibition presents a new development of this phantasmagoria: a mysterious food truck has appeared in Trulov and Lastochka’s universe, selling paper that cures all ills and creating a black market for bottles of this “medicine.” The meaning of the “message in a bottle” is simple: the cure-all paper points to the fact that health and longevity are directly connected to the ability to pay.

The prophetic power of jest in Trulov and Lastochka’s work brings to mind philosopher and literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin’s studies on the culture of popular laughter, only the “rites and shows” of the Middle Ages and “town squares filled with laughing people” have been replaced by contemporary art in museums and galleries. This art can transport the viewer into the world of carnival and utopia, temporarily liberating them from everyday life and the power of authoritarian social institutions. Another recent work by the duo imbued with “an understanding of the joyful relativity of the dominating truths and powers” is Liberty Will Never Perish (2020), the title of which is borrowed from Charlie Chaplin’s final speech in The Great Dictator (1940). Interestingly, The Great Dictator was released in the same year Bakhtin published the first edition of his book Rabelais and His World

Trulov and Lastochka’s trailer-dystopia enters in a curious relationship with another work in the exhibition, Khochesh Group’s mockumentary about the garage city of Tuapse.