Steppes of Dreamers

Life is like a film. The many things that happen and the many forms that life takes on - are of an ephemeral nature. They are all fleeting. Things, events, situations, thoughts, emotions, desires, ambitions, fears, drama...they all come, pretend to be all-important, and before youknow it they are gone, dissolved into the nothingness out of which they came. Were they ever real? Were they ever more than a dream?

This is the basis for the collaborative effort between Illya Chichkan and Mihara Yasuhiro. Working together in the uncharted boundary where art and fashion meet, they will examine the past, present and future of the Eurasian landscape through various cinema metaphors - inspired by the great Ukrainian film director, Kira Muratova. Their four large-scale art installations, inside and outside of the Palazzo Papadopoli is an ambitious project for a Biennale. Both Illya Chichkan and Mihara Yasuhiro will demonstrate a single, unique vision about identity, travel and consciousness.

The focus of the installations at the Palazzo Papadopoli and the large billboard at Academic Bridge are based on a fictional story created by the artists and influenced by the surreal cinema work of Kira Muratova. In their story, Nicolo Papadopoli - the mid-19th Century owner of the palazzo - travels to Ukraine, Mongolia and China, finally reaching the Sea of Japan, retracing Marco Polo's journey. The exhibition is in essence a film set, containing all of the components of a film - script, props, lights and music. But, there will be no film.

At first glance, Chichkan's (Ukrainian) and Yasuhiro's (Japanese) installations appear to be well-packaged trans-cultural events. But their rhetoric has an underhanded virtuosity, capable of producing unexpected effects with a bit of black humour tossed in discreetly. As the film director, Kira Muratova once remarked, the purpose of cinema is to move us. So too, the work of Chichkan and Yasuhiro consistently realizes cinema's highest aim: they create artworks whose extraordinary power lies not only in how deeply they make us feel, but also in how they let us see the complexity of our consciousness in meaningful environments, which help us to live in dreams.

Illya Chichkan at one point in his life was a fashion designer and then later became an artist. Mihara Yasuhiro started out as an artist and then became a fashion designer. Their backgrounds and current perspectives raise a number of questions. Who is an artist and who is a fashion designer? What is the role of the curator? Does a person need a title or a role? When are you just yourself?

Using various techniques, Illya Chichkan and Mihara Yasuhiro put the spectator in the position of realizing the transitory nature of perception by emphasizing the process of consciousness. We enter these physical spaces. We recognize the elements around us. We take for granted certain situations. To awaken within the dream is our purpose now. When we are awake within the dream, life dramas come to an end and a more wondrous dream arises.

Peter Doroshenko