Nikolay is from Odesa. He is currently walking down the streets of Brussels, the capital of Europe, and tells me about an exhibition he is planning for Prague. I'm in the historically cosmopolitan city of Palermo, where cultures have always mixed. I don’t hear him very well, but looking at the Norman-Arab penetration of the local architecture, I fully understand cultural appropriation, which Nikolay tries to outline to me through his works. Although against the background of our phone call, a little more to the east, there is a war, we can continue to move freely across the European area. Sometimes the hand on the imaginary geopolitical weights of polarity shifts a little further east, sometimes more to west. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine where the East begins and where the West ends, whether the Orient still exists and, standing in opposition to it, the Occident. Or whether it is better to see it through the concept of ‘nesting orientalism’ introduced in the 90s by Serbian theorist Milica Bakic-Hayden about possible fluid ‘orientations’, as each culture considers its neighboring regions to the east and south to be more primitive, and therefore there are gradations of ‘East’. So we are currently in Prague, in the middle of Central Europe (Wikipedia actually defines Central Europe as consisting of nine nation states with Prague as its center), which we could at least for this exhibition consider as an oasis, a mobile laboratory in which to experiment with colonial perspectives.
One of the objects exhibited is a lightbox ‘advertising’ Estern Union and which gives the name to the exhibition. It does not refer so much to the political organization of the EU as to Western Union, the company which is a hundred years older. WU does not engage in the transfer of ideas or cultural capital, but in international money transactions. Trans moments, moments undergoing a transformation, can often be found in the work of Nikolay Karabinovych - in the form of transits, transcultural exchanges and translations. In a similar way as the art group Slavs and Tatars who focus on Eurasia, Nikolay works with language and cultural references to create new connections between seemingly disparate concepts. He freely deconstructs known structures and leaves space for play and error. He uses the exhibition space as a laboratory in which he engages spectators to reconsider their views, to alter how they see things, whether it is through ready-made objects or direct references drawn from Western-established art history, appropriated and newly interpreted. An important component of most of Nikolay’s projects is also music. Cover versions of well-known songs defining historical eras are a functional artistic tool to stimulate the senses of the audience and through their own musical interpretations allow them to see deeper structures conditioning the origin of the composition or its cultural references.
4k video, sound, color, 8’16’’