The Weed Grass Memory


An exhibition by Daria Neretina at Vyksa AiR
In her practice, Vyksa AiR resident Daria Neretina addresses the subjects of the local memory of things and her own memory archives, with each of her projects built around a specific subject, whether it is a 1987 school herbarium discovered by the artist at a flea market, a collection of weeds put together by Neretina herself, or a book on the USSR flora by Czech botanist František Antonín Novák.

Daria Neretina came to Vyksa with the idea of working with weed plants, having chosen the technique of her future work in advance, including selecting paper and fabrics, as well as coming up with a way to put them all together. In Vyksa, the project became technically more complicated than the initial concept implied and received an addition of soft sculptures made from fabric and transparent plastic sheeting with appliqué comprising real herbariums and found botanical artefacts.

'What's important to me, even given the conventionality of the mediums I employ, is the transition from plane to volume. In a way, I try to get closer to the three-dimensionality of the object and let the viewer see both the front and the inside of the work. Besides, the plastic sheeting is a direct reference to gardening and plant cultivation, an allusion to the past of this place that was famous for its pineapples throughout Russia. I think that weeds (any plants and trees not cultivated by man) are quite worthy of a place in history, worthy of my time and, perhaps, the audience’s time too,' explains the artist.

Her walking route in Vyksa was quite compelling, 'I spotted traces of the past showing through the modern landscape of the town. In the Posadka park, after the grass had been mowed, the difference in soil levels became visible to the naked eye. It turned out that the bizarre lunar terrain had been caused by the extraction of ore. The so-called 'pipes' - boreholes, into which prospectors descended one at a time, were later covered with earth, but the soil sagged, and small craters have remained. The pines were planted by order of one of the metallurgical plant directors at the former prospecting site.

The history of the ponds which are now part of an official conservation area is similar — they were initially dug out to provide water for mining. Today the ponds are the main recreational spot for citizens and an integral part of the landscape, which does not look man-made at all. The Batashev orangeries' history is much in the same vein: there are neither orangeries nor theatre on the premises these days but there is a moat that encircles the territory of the former menagerie and manor park, which became part of the main urban park.'

The exhibition will feature an assortment of the artist’s impressions of Vyksa relayed through plants and the attitude of the locals towards them. In her works, Neretina uses found natural objects and their representation created using artistic media. The display will feature works on paper incorporating embroidery on top of watercolours depicting weed plants and medicinal herbs found by the artist during her walks, as well as soft sculptures made from several layers of fabrics and covered in watercolour and acrylic stains, embroidery and garden plastic with inclusions of found herbariums and fragments of the natural environment.