Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov

Preservation instinct

The main motif of Fedotov-Fedorov’s art is the use of natural scientific knowledge. The artist adopts its main characteristics: the depiction of biological processes and forms from the cell to the habitat, linguistic features and ways of presenting knowledge (formulas, drawings, and so on), methodological principles and types of representation (entomological collections, card catalogues). With their help, he reveals the subjective nature of the acquisition of knowledge and its dependence on individual experience. He shows that we perceive and describe the surrounding world in accordance with the language that we use.

To develop this theme, Fedotov-Fedorov’s project Preservation Instinct makes use of archival elements and the museum format. Several exhibition rooms are chock-full of things: objects that are neither human nor natural in form but resemble exoskeletons of extinct beings, models, samples, test tubes and laboratory flasks with unknown substances, as well as sketches, drawings, maps, and blueprints that seem, at first, to organize the “collection” and put it in order. These objects are strange and mysterious, they seem to suggest the appearance of a “post-human” world in which differences between organic nature and non-organic matter have been effaced and animals and plant species have mutated, adapted or changed so much that they have become unrecognizable. These artifacts and relics may well be the remains of the diversity of the world, bringing life to a barren apocalyptic landscape.

Fedotov-Fedorov strives to pose the question of the utility of preserving and describing these things literally a second before the collapse takes place. Perhaps, in a hostile environment at a moment of catastrophic danger, they seem like incredibly fragile and vulnerable individual lives, even if this is not actually the case? They are fragments and parts of a person’s worldview. This is why the artist tries so hard to save it by creating an archival space resembling a time capsule and filling it with everything that he can find.

Thus the archive gives rise to a distorted order and a disruption of the objective worldview, whose assemblage point is the individual perception of the surrounding world. The only thing that can reconstruct the archival space is the structure of thinking and the language codes that, among the mysterious indicators of future scenarios, make it possible to recreate the world as seen by a person living out his last days.

«Preservation instinct» was presented in Fragment Gallery from the 5th of September till the 20th of October 2017, was included in the Main program of the 7th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, was shown within the program of International Association of galleries Vacation NYC in July 2018. The project was nominated for the State Award «Innovation-2018» in the «New generation» category (received a special prize in this category).