2006 – 2013
In this series Kadyrova yet again employs her signature material – tile, using it to fill receptacles that are usually meant for liquid. The artist cuts out layers of colored tile that correspond to the diameter of various kinds of enamel kitchenware. From the side, the gloss of the tile, which appears doubly strong due to the glossiness of the enamel containers, looks like a mirrored film that forms on the surface of any oily liquid, misleading viewers through a visual illusion. And so the artist turns a typical chain of events inside out, constructing a magical transformation of the external container (tile) into its internal contents (liquid).
However, this artistic transformation is not total: Filling includes details that do not allow one to completely plunge into the constructed illusion. Color becomes the factor that creates artistic tension between the form and its signifier. At a glance the liquid in the cooking pots and jugs elicits associations with food. Various shades of red could be jam, for example, while the thick white could signify milk. But could the bright blue or green liquid be something edible? And why is the oily black film, resembling fuel oil, poured into mugs and cups for drinking? The viewer is quickly drawn into this game of guessing form and content, which ultimately leads to reflections on the theme of the ecology of food and forces us to think about what we drink and with what we fill the containers of our bodies.
In addition, the enamel dishes and household containers also become the symbolic anchor tying the various iterations of Filling that have been exhibited by the artist in several countries to the historical and social context of a given culture. Thus, for the installation Filling in the Le Moulin Gallery in Paris in autumn 2012, the kitchenware and other enamel containers were bought at
antique stands scattered about the Paris suburbs. This connection to the local context shifted the installation from the sphere of artistic play of forms into a cultural-historical dimension.
An art-historical subtext can be added to the interpretations of Filling. When viewed from a certain angle or height, the containers with their tile insertions flatten and resemble abstract compositions, similar to the Suprematist gestures of the early-20th-century Russian avant-garde. Kadyrova’s Filling, like the artist’s many other tile sculptures and installations, balances on the edge of aesthetic and social, thus remaining open to multiple interpretations.
Part of the project extends beyond the space of the gallery, conceptually echoing the series Shots, Fractures and Maps, which work with the idea of the city as the impact of civilization on nature. Kadyrova seeks out cracks, grooves, unexpected openings in the city space that appeared either through intensive and often violent human activity or as a result of urban entropy, which looks like a sign of human non-intervention, in other words, a passive-aggressive relationship with the city. The artist fills these fractures and recesses with colored tile layers, making the viewer think about how they appeared in the urban landscape and about his/her own attitude toward urban development.
Yet another offshoot of the idea of Filling is Banquet – a modest satellite installation (Kadyrova sometimes shows it at her openings), composed of a set of paper or plastic cups with round pieces of tile inside that look like cups filled with wine. Thus the artist metaphorically invites viewers to “have a taste” of art.
Enamel dishware and household containers, ceramic tile
Production of Izolyatsia. Platform for Cultural Initiatives
Photo: Oak Taylor-Smith