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Scholarship Residency

Olga Abeleva Scholarship Residency

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Olga Abeleva is a student at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and was recently on exchange at the Universitat der Kunst, Berlin. She works in printmaking and painting, and much of her work explores historical and personal narratives, frequently blending fact and fiction.

During her scholarship residency, Abeleva crafted an imaginary future world where cultural traditions are no longer preserved through tangible artefacts. This world was realized in two parts: in a newspaper entitled WORLD LEGEND and a set of instructional drawings that set out to resurrect rituals and traditions that have dissolved in a global state of cultural amnesia.

Taking place almost a thousand years from now, Abeleva imagines a future in which material objects are no longer used as a crutch for memory. The extinction of these objects is due to a handful of speculative events— mass destruction, post-capitalist disappointment in commodities, disassociation between objects and their ideological worth or perhaps the transferring of all information into digital format. As a result, a kind of monoculture takes over, rooted in the desire to forget the past and expedited by the erasure of physical artefacts. A group of librarians, romantics and materialists begin WORLD LEGEND, attempting to resurrect the ephemeral rituals of behavior encoded in the lost material objects.

WORLD LEGEND marks a return to oral histories— facts transformed into legends, resurrecting traditions of the past. Legends are the only way to glue the digital, fragmented artefacts back together and function doubly as a deciphering mechanism for a map. The newspaper acts as a legend to decode the signs uncovered by these digital archaeologists.

The second part of the project is a set of instructional drawings akin to Ikea manuals. Made by members of WORLD LEGEND, they revive the intimacy of interpersonal relationships. Film stills— the only fragments that slipped through the cracks of erasure— are used to develop a theory of how people loved each other one thousand years ago. The instructional drawings are derivative of the newspaper and function as a behavioral guide.

The dialogues within printmaking mark the return to an ancient tradition within the context of Abeleva’s post-apocalyptic narrative. The project assesses museological practices and their relationship to the de/construction of narratives via these printmaking processes. Imperfections, translations and layering within printmaking serve as metaphors for the evolution of storytelling, where listener and narrator roles are interchangeable, fact and fiction transmutate and details deteriorate. Through the nature of their immediacy and revision, oral histories can be seen as always contemporary. The project questions the acts of institutional taxidermy which render artefacts as static, innocuous objects. WORLD LEGEND faces the dilemma of how to love objects again without entrapping them within the museological cemetery.