Alyona Shapovalova & Alisa Smorodina: Testing the Ability to Deanthropocentralise. Insect

, Gallery

TAD.I (Testing the Ability to Deanthropocentralize. Insect), 2021. Brochures with test assignments, nine desk and chair sets, plexiglass shields, disinfection lamp, UV-protection glasses, black boxes, Petri dishes, clear and tinted glass jars, honey, ethanol, formic acid, empty praying mantis oothecas, empty wasp nests, galls, test tubes and holders, ballpoint pens. All images courtesy of the artists and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

Testing the Ability to Deanthropocentralise. Insect—is a project by artists Alyona Shapovalova and Alisa Smorodina. It is part of the exhibition Assuming Distance: Speculations, Fakes, and Predictions in the Age of the Coronacene at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.

The project challenges the common procedure of international language testing (IELTS and TOEFL) as symbolic manifestations and tools of migrational and biopolitical control. Further, it looks to contest corporate apparatuses of control through psychological and vocational guidance tests for determining intelligence or personality characteristics.

A testing desk

One of the pages of the test

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Participants taking the test

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The test can be taken as part of the installation and contains sensorial ways of knowledge acquisition: test-takers immerse themselves in the non-human experience and atmosphere of the world of insects. The reference to eusocial insects—such as ants and bees—points towards their successful ecological strategies which allow them to adapt to the environment and exist as a single, harmonious superorganism.

A certificate received by the participants

One of the samples of the "Sensing" part of the test

The artists are placing emphasis on the more easily “tested” senses that humans and insects share. Upon passing the test, each participant receives a certificate containing an individually composed graphic image with a set of characteristics usually inherent to eusocial insects. The artists do not obtain any numerical values. Instead, they seek to emphasize the impossibility of human beings to completely de-anthropomorphize into insects.

Assuming Distance: Speculations, Fakes, and Predictions in the Age of the Coronacene is on display until August 1, 2021.

Alyona Shapovalova

(b. 1986, Kurchatov, Kursk Oblast) is a Moscow-based artist whose work encompasses video art, research, and performance. She graduated from the Video Art Studio at Rodchenko Art School (Moscow) in 2018 and studied on The New Normal program at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design (Moscow). She has shown her work at Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (2016), ISSMAG Gallery, Moscow (2017), Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow (2018), and Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow (2019).

Alisa Smorodina

(b. 1983, Frunze, Kirghiz SSR) is a Moscow-based computational systems engineer, artist, creator of performances and participatory projects, and teacher. She studied at the British Higher School of Art and Design (Moscow), Rodchenko Art School (Moscow), and Central Saint Martins College of Art And Design (London). Group exhibitions include: Pro ShR: The 10th Anniversary of Rodchenko Art School, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (2016); Test Group, Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, Moscow (2018); Going Unconscious / Trembling / With Eyes Open / I See You / Surrender, HSE Art Gallery, Moscow (2018); Dismorphophobia, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2019); and Animal Internet, Khodynka Gallery, Moscow (2019).

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