Notes to the ideal sweetheart
Country: Russia Year: 1996 Duration: 4 min 21 sec
The Factory of Found Clothing (FFС) is a union of two Petersburg artists, Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya and Olga Egorova, also known by the pseudonyms of Gluklya and Tsaplya. Founded in 1995, FFС soon became one of the most striking and productive groups on the Russian art scene.
FFС is a feminist art group which used clothing as a tool to study relations between people, the person and the body, and the person and society. The group mainly worked in the genres of performance and installations, including objects and video and audio works. FFС not only realized their works at exhibitions, but also in urban and social spaces, where various groups of people were involved (school pupils, students, pensioners, the artists’ friends, divers, navy sailors etc.).
One of FFC’s best-known early works was the performance “Memory of Poor Liza” (1996). Gluklya and Tsaplya, wearing white dresses, jumped off the bridge over the Winter Canal, holding a black dress by the sleeves. The black dress floated off into oblivion, while the women emerged from the water unharmed, asserting the victory of love over death. But over time, this romantic aspect of the group’s work transformed into social research projects, where Gluklya and Tsaplya developed an innovative style of social performance with elements of art therapy.
Important participants of these performances were the “Whites”. The Whites are characters who appeared when Gluklya and Tsaplya put on white chemical suits, which completely hid their bodies and deprived them of any individuality. Nameless and sexless, as if they had borrowed the material for their clothing from Freud’s “blank screen”, as a place to project the unconscious, they invited the viewers to transfer all their doubts and fears to their bodies. The most important performances featuring the Whites were the “Whites’ Psychoanalyst Offices”, which were held in Graz, Austria in 2002, and in Moscow at the XL gallery in 2003.
In 2002, Gluklya and Tsaplya created the “FFС Manifesto”, where they stated that “art’s place is on the side of the weak”.
In 2003, they were among the founders of the collective “Chto Delat” (What is to be Done?) – a workgroup with the mission of creatively combining politics, activism and art.
The group’s work was always based on reinterpreting personal experience and giving it a socially significant form. For example, Gluklya’s pregnancy was reinterpreted in the performance “Pythia” (Helsinki, 2000), when Gluklya foretold the future to the audience, and Tsaplya acted as her psychoanalyst assistant. Tsaplya’s and Gluklya’s experience of maternity was also reflected in a film (video installation), “Three Mothers and a Chorus”, where three mothers told their stories one after another on one screen, while on another screen, a chorus representing public opinion, (an Ideal Mother, Careerist, Grandmother, Anarchist, Orthodox Believe and a boy called Vasya) commented on their stories. The film was based on real stories of real mothers.
On 25 January 2014, at the Moscow museum of modern art, Gluklya and Tsaplya held their last performance, “Final Cut”, which marked the end of their collaboration.
After they stopped working together, Glyuklya and Tsaplya turned to new projects which in many ways continued the traditions of FFС.
Tsaplya devotes herself to working at the “Chto Delat” ( What is to be Done?) group (director of films and performances) and teaching at the School of Involved Art (St. Petersburg).
Glyuklya remains a member of Chto Delat (What is to be Done?) at long-distance, dividing her time between Amsterdam and Petersburg; she develops her projects and teaches at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (Master Photography and Society), and at the ArtEZ University in Arnhem (International Master Artist Educator, iMAE).