Anna Jermolaewa

Anna Jermolaewa (born  1970): Russian video artist. Graduated from the Faculty of Art History at Vienna University (1988) and Peter Kogler’s new media class at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (2002). Professor at the Faculty of Media Art of Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (2005–11). Contributed to the 48th Venice Biennale (1999).
Born: 1970, Leningrad
Video Art

Anna Jermolaewa was born in Leningrad in 1970. She graduated from the Faculty of Art History at Vienna University in 1988 and Peter Kogler’s new media class at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 2002. From 2005 to 2011, she was a professor at the Faculty of Media Art of Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in Germany. She lives and works in Karlsruhe.

Anna Jermolaewa received a classical artistic education in St Petersburg, before going to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In Austria, she abandoned painting in a now legendary event. After her professor criticised her paintings, Jermolaewa cut them up and brought them to class the next day in the form of confetti.

Anna Jermolaewa’s videos are very brief, exact and simple. The most important elements are the repetitiveness and the very nature of the video image. The artist’s videos are not cinema – the visual merit of her brief looped clips, which last as little as a dozen seconds, lies in their shortness.

Anna Jermolaewa develops many of the creative methods and devices of Pop Art, such as endless repetition or hyper-magnification of an individual fragment. The process of change or deformation is the natural state of an object, no longer inseparable from it. The artist shows a thing in its authentic form, making an important contribution to the development of the Pop Art tradition in contemporary art.

While Pop Art is slightly different from what it looked like when it first appeared fifty years ago, the main themes with which Anna Jermolaewa works are still the key to an analysis of the consumer society – brand fetishism, exploitation of consumer lust and the loneliness and helplessness of the individual. The fine line between an advertising image and the everyday existence of an object is lost: a thing no longer enjoys the opportunity to be “itself” – no right to authenticity or a real existence.

Anna Jermolaewa created the Chicken Triptych video installation in 1998, during her first year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Lasting between three and four minutes, Chicken Triptych was specially chosen by Swiss curator Harald Szeemann for the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 – making Jermolaewa the first Russian artist after Ilya Kabakov to be shown at Venice.

Anna Jermolaewa explains: “Many of my works address the problem of manipulation, although what (or who?) is doing the manipulating often remains off-screen.” This approach can be seen in two works created by the artist at the start of the twenty-first century – a one-minute video installation called Shooting (2001) and a three-minute video called Monkeytheater (2002).

In Shooting, the instrument employed by the manipulator (the cameraman) can be seen. This is the camera itself, which is, logically, not normally seen in films. On two screens, a duel is fought between the artist and the camera. Anna holds a pistol, which she points at us (or, rather, at the camera). This becomes clear when we look at the other screen, showing the side-view of a camera on a stand, which is shaken by a gunshot.

Monkeytheater shows the grimacing face of a rubber glove puppet. The title of the work is a play on words, because it is not the monkey itself that performs: it is being controlled by the off-screen puppeteer. We often forget that the majority of video materials have a director and a scriptwriter. Towards the end of this video, the director becomes increasingly visible. The puppet loses all resemblance to a monkey: the hand inside moves more and more vigorously, crumpling up the monkey’s face, transforming it into a possessed monster.

Random articles