Monday, April 29, 2013

Veruschka. Self Portraits at the MAMM Moscow

Performance: Vera Lehndorff
Photographer: Andreas Hubertus Ilse

Veruschka is a name that, without exaggeration, determined the course of world fashion in the mid-20th century. Tall, imposing, with Nordic restraint, she was entirely different from models of the previous generation who resembled 'dressed-up housewives'. It was as if time and fashion adapted to her , accepted her will and her concept of true beauty, which bestowed extraordinary freedom of action. Thank to Veruschka, the whole structure of internal relations within the fashion world was turned upside-down: between photographer, model, editor and stylist. At one time or another they all followed Vera's creative energy, yielded to and captured the images she invented, and the scale of those fashion shoots from the Diana Vreeland era of American Vogue were reminiscent of a world recreated and reimagined, with a single heroine who constantly metamorphosed, assuming diverse images, transforming her surroundings and on each occasion the shoot became a serious artistic expermiment rather than expenditure of advertising budgets. Consistently destroyinh the notion of the model as a mute and detached mannequin, she infiltrated the essence of fashion to such an extent that both she and her epoch became legendary.

After departing from the world of fashion in the late a970s, which by that time seemed weary of the radical experiments and fruit of sexual and intellectual emancipation, Vera Lehndroff found herself in the artistic context most congenial to her, and naturally continued with the series of transformations and experiments with her own capacity for plastic movement, like the organism of a superhuman or ideal being which could inexplicably overcome gravity and bipedalism, whose proportions were ostensibly destined for another, more perfect space. (...)

In the Self-Portraits series exhibited at MAMM Lehndorff complicates her task while maintaining her former, hypersensitive relations with space. It is no coincidence that the series is sub-headed 'New York' : this is not a conditionally designated dot on the world map, but an actual city that Lehndorff knows, feeling its energy and the whole complex character structure - where there are fictional and real heroes - is united by topos. This appears to be the first series by Vera Lehndroff in which we have such a distinct feeling of the thirst for a storyline, or more precisely, a special kind of narration - lehndorff tells stories, hints at their beginning and continuation, often interrupting then, leading to the tultimate absurdity; she makes an irony of the spectator's expectations, leads us down a blond alley, meanwhile revealing the ineffectuality of stereotypes created by glossy magazines, public opinion, good taste, etc. These Self-Portraits were collected not by an artist, but by a competent artistic director who controls numerous storylines and the geometric structure of the shot. Metamorphosing into Garbo, Marlene, a space alien, a doug outside the White House, a zebra in Central park, a punk, a fashion victim - it seems that Vera Lehndroff achieves complete physical and plastic perfection in matery of her own body, an artistic medium, as in her model-epoch, remains as sensuous as ever, close to our concept of an ideal being. Ekaterina Inozemtseva

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