Six questions for
Nikolay Karabinovych

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Nikolay Karabinovych.

Artist Nikolay Karabinovych
Lives in Brussels and Kyiv

How do you describe your own art practice?

Sometimes I imagine my works as a necklace, encircling and taming the neck. A kind of chopper with a small diamond. Think of it as a treasure for festivals and special occasions, not for the everyday. It can easily choke you. They say that you can’t give chains as a gift. This is nonsense.

I am often thrown from side to side – habitual simple movements, simple things, a rough sunset – as an interpreter, who later became a buffoon, once sang.

I like to peer into perjury. I am fascinated by breaking the laws of genres, turning the steering wheel as far left or right as possible, to one side. In these anxious days, it is difficult to say anything remotely intelligible.

It can happen that something big and boring grows out of my practice, and sometimes just something tiny and funny. Sometimes it’s only a series of misunderstandings.

In general, this is about Roman names, Faith (Вера), Love (Любовь) and Hope (Надежда) and their mother Sophia. Imitating birdsong, revelling in Mustafa Kandilari’s extended clarinet, it should be said.

My practice is a clumsy space that becomes a labyrinth. Periodically I meet people who turn into a pillar of salt when they observe my works.

Ominous tourism, whatever that means. History of Balaklava. I have a feeling that the valleys of Balaklava are not simple places; Ottoman, French, English and Russian ships already met there once. My practice is about strange premonitions. I’m here and elsewhere, like Jean-Luc Godard, looking to the Lac Léman, and remembering the desert.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

Under conditions of the devolution of words, I am still fascinated by language, tongues, and pagans (языки и язычники).
I like the untranslatable word Негодование (indignation). It is about time, there is a piece of “not” – Не – that denies this time.
I’m interested in accents. I love and often amplify my Slavic accent.
I’m interested in unleavened things. The magical transformation of unleavened into salty, or bitter, or sweet. I am interested in parody, the so-called low-brow. I cannot forget that I am from one of those places where a person who is engaged in comedy fights for the freedom of his country and the security of Europe, or so he has declared.
I have a dream that Fassbinder will resurrect and come to visit my opening.
I drive myself into poetry, the text literally surrounds me.

What was your first experience with art?

The first experience … when I start thinking about this question, I cannot rid myself of the slight eroticism of this phrase. Plunging into the depths of my memories, I look for a suitable story.
Practically speaking, in my parent’s apartment in Odesa, I was surrounded by copies of paintings that my great-grandfather created. These were very skillfully made reproductions, mostly of the Peredvizhniki, and a few more copies of Aivazovsky. At that moment, as a child, it was difficult for me to separate these paintings from the wallpaper and carpets. But they beckoned me. I wanted to break inside these paintings.
A bit later, when I was, at primary school, a poster from a major Chagall retrospective in Stuttgart hung above my working desk. It excited my young, immature consciousness. It was a lithograph of a man in a clown hat, holding a small book with one hand, and with the other hugging a naked woman with fiery red hair. In her hands, she was holding a bouquet on which a bird was sitting, and at her feet some anthropomorphic creature (at that time I identified it as a pitbull) was handing her a violin. Chagall arranged the audience around figures in such a way that it seemed as if all this was happening in the arena of some kind of circus or variety show. Ever since then, my breathing quickens only when I see something that reminds me of this Chagall piece.
I think these my most vivid first experiences with art.
Once I remember going to Paris for the first time. My plan was, of course, to visit The Pompidou Centre. Not the Louvre and not even The Musée D’Orsay. It was important for me to look into these pipes and connections erected by Renzo Piano. A young man from the Ukrainian shtetl on the coast of the Black Sea, wanders around the 4th district. Intoxicated by the fog of cheap Parisian hashish, I spent the whole day in this temple. At the time it seemed immense and majestic to me. Now I peer into the dust in the corners of this palazzo.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

This I want to answer simply – music.
The places I find myself in, the people who fill these places.
But we should resist the temptation to overcomplicate things, so I’ll try to list them:
Explosions of bridges, crossings, disappearance of flags, conspiracies.
Disappointment and delight with cymbals.
A feeble mind, a compromised past.
Bills, stiffs, guilders and francs.
This is an ornament (not the best word, but still) from which I weave my web.
I am drawn to market squares and shores. Confusing coasts (берега попутать) is an important part of my practice, which spills over beyond art.
Blasphemous dancing on bones, without the possibility of resurrection.
I’m inspired by all sorts of obscenities.
The Solstice is approaching, although I prefer the Moon.
I love hugs and curses.
Seasons and overcoming them.

In every serious text, you need to quote Preciado, Arendt, Guatari, Gramsci, Fischer, or, at least, Marx, I won’t get around to it, and I, as Karl said, In his Introduction to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, “We must make these petrified, reified relations dance by chanting before them their own melody”

What do you need in order to create your work?

I love talking to strangers, asking probingly about their places.
I need to wake up at special places, in shady parts of the town, Seefhoek, for example.
Nice area. I’m thankful for the noise around.
Lately I have begun to think about gigantism.
So I’m very lazily looking for a big studio in Antwerp.

On the one hand, my video works require the involvement of a large number of professionals. I can do collages and works on paper on my knees, but the studio is important to me as a place where all ideas, lines and plots can be assembled – as a laboratory and proto-museum.
Of course, I need the Internet and financial autonomy.

But I must be in a certain exalted state. This is euphoria and lack of confidence, the shaky swamp soil under my feet carries me forward as far as possible.
Although Armageddon is just around the corner.
I love when you can dance over your work.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I don’t want to sound too pathetic, but I’m too biased towards art.
I am very attentive to the works of colleagues and acquaintances, but I am truly surprised by things that are not yet art. I’m attracted to amateurism. Idiocy.

Seriously speaking, works that surprise me are not so rare.
There are many artists and friends in my orbit that I follow.
Issy Wood, Lucy McKenzie, Laure Prouvost, Emilija Škarnulytė – to name a few.
In general, I would like dead artists to also continue to do something, somehow, in principle they should continue.

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