On March 23, the ZARYA Center for Contemporary Art will launch “Sum of its Parts,” an exhibition by the Vladivostok-based photographer Denis Korobov. The show is conceived of as an installation of 60 photographs of varying size and scale, reflecting the everyday life of Vladivostok. The exhibition will remain on view through April 22. Admission is free of charge.
“I started taking my first shots of the city back in 2014,” Denis Korobov recalls. “These compositions were caught by chance in the camera’s viewfinder, but each wielded a mystical aesthetic, whether it was the specific geometry of a building, the rainbow-tinged film of gasoline in a puddle, or a dead pigeon. As time passed, I came to understand that I was not interested so much by photographs of people, as by images of what they leave behind. These collisions of ideas, textures, geometries – this is what I look around for as I cut circles through the city’s residential districts.”
Over the past three years, Korobov has documented the daily life of the city in short but numerous series, including “garage façades,” “the art of advertising,” “car parks,” “under a blue tarp,” “food and the body,” and “playgrounds.” His images provide a fresh and unusual perspective on moments that we might otherwise consider random or invisible to the normal eye, and thus capable of slipping by without notice.
Through the artist’s interpretation, the portrait of the city comes together as a combination of images, the sum of individual parts bound by the light irony of the observer, a compositional ingenuity, a refined sense of color and a poetic use of rhythm, all while producing a documentary record of the light, character and texture of a given place. And while several of the images may suggest partial staging, they still preserve the elusive quality of the moment.
As the curator of the exhibition, Larisa Grinberg, explains, “In the case of Denis Korobov, what we are seeing is his search for the genius loci, exploring the environment around him. His method of research – conducted through scouring minute, almost unidentifiable segments – is entirely logical. On the other hand, close attention to non-obvious details is not exactly a novel technique for any generation of photographers. However, this is precisely where a new round of young photographers picks up: just because ‘everything has already been said,’ it doesn’t mean that someone has already lived our lives, and everything we are experiencing in the here and now, we are experiencing for the first time. It’s like with a declaration of love; every second, thousands of people all over the planet are making them, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t still express one’s sincerity through this act of confession. In the same way, these ‘parts of the city’ that Korobov is documenting are each meaningful in their own way. And the search for the whole, the genius loci, through these barely-legible fragments stands alone as an exploration of what’s happened not ‘before our time,’ but rather ‘never before our time.’”
For the exhibition “Sum of its Parts,” the photographs are presented without frames and directly mounted on the wall in a manner that downplays their individual significance in favor of emphasizing their role within the greater context, allowing the viewer to forge their own associations.
For Reference: Denis Korobov is a photographer born in 1991 in the Primorsky Krai settlement of Terney. He currently lives and works in Vladivostok. Among his solo exhibitions are “No Parking No Parking,” at the ZARYA Art Residency in 2017, as well as an exhibition at Ogurtsy (“Cucumbers”) space in Vladivostok in 2015. He has participated in the apartment exhibitions of the Vladivostok School of Contemporary Art (VSCA) and the auction preview exhibitions at ZARYA CCA in 2016 and 2017. Korobov was included in VSCA’s 2016 project “New Poverty,” created in collaboration with Moscow’s Krasnyi Center and the St. Petersburg-based collective Chto Delat.
Larisa Grinberg is a gallerist, curator, and chief specialist in regional development for ROSIZO/NCCA, as well as the chair of the Masters program in “Art-Management and Gallery Business” in the department of “The History of Film and Contemporary Art” at the Russian State University for the Humanities. Since 2007, she has been the co-founder and art-director of the photography gallery Grinberg (formerly known as “Photographer.ru”) and she also co-founded the Moscow-based photography agency, Photographer.ru (2004-2014). From 2014-2017, she was the curator of three municipal exhibition halls: Na Shabolovke, Peresvetov Pereulok and Gallery Nagornaya.