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Kolya Saprykin: P01W8P88

In his wall collages, the young Russian artist explores his inner self while tracing a portrait of society in modern Moscow

There is a little bit of everything on the walls of young Russian artist Kolya Saprykin, from pieces of newspapers, stickers and sketches to pictures of models, of Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev and Dolce & Gabbana, assorted adverts, postcards and random notes.

The chaotic bits and pieces forming his walls - part of Saprykin’s 'P01W8P88' project showcased during a preview at the recent Cycles and Seasons event in Moscow - represent the artist’s memories and the personal chaos in his mind, but they also form a poignant portrait of modern Russia, symbolising the precarious and schizophrenic balance between luxury and poverty in which local young people have been living in the last few years.

Dazed Digital: How did this project start?
Kolya Saprykin: I started bringing home invitations to parties, photos that people gave me, booklets from exhibitions and other bits and pieces and I realised that, as time passed, they meant something to me. I felt I didn’t want to throw them away because they were part of my personal story, so I started building them into a system, into a sort of collage and used them to decorate the walls of my flat to recreate almost a timeline of my life from 2007 to 2010. When I showed them to art curators, they actually stated I had managed to delineate a portrait of a particular generation of people living in Moscow in these years.

DD: Which are the main issues your generation has been dealing with?
Kolya Saprykin: In Moscow we have a problem: things that are in your head never relate to the things that actually surround you. You may have a beautiful image in your mind, but the reality can be pretty different and this means that our generation can easily turn into a slightly schizophrenic entity, since at times you feel you have an imaginary life in your head, but you know at the same time that the reality is something else. 

DD: How did you manage to reconcile these contrasts through your project?
Kolya Saprykin: I moved to the countryside and lived in a very secluded environment for almost one year. I tried to make sense of my life and of what was happening around me. I started writing small articles to illustrate the pictures and items I had brought together to try and highlight my personal relation with that particular piece or with the people portrayed in those images or present my point of view about something.

I listed everything on a website including links to the people mentioned or to their Facebook page, so that people who come and see my installation are able to check them out and move from the exhibition space into a sort of social network. In this way, while studying my project and the website I created, visitors also find themselves in relation to other people and somehow rediscover themselves.

DD: Moscow looks like a city built on dichotomies to foreign visitors, do you feel that these contrasts actually had an impact on your project?
Kolya Saprykin: Absolutely. Through my project I also wanted to tackle those distorsions between unimaginable things, such as people eating buckets of caviar and the images you get of Moscow once you jump in your car and get out of it. I guess my project was also a way to get out of this distorted frame of mind that makes you think that caviar and champagne are normal and that make you blind to other things happening around you. It was a way to clean myself out of all this, to find a sort of catharis, get on with my life and finally move onto the next project.

Special thanks to Alex Boyarskaya-Waitt for her help in translating/facilitating the interview