Nataliya Chernakova in conversation with Maud Greppi

On the occasion of the artist’s solo show in Milan, Nataliya Chernakova talked to Maud Greppi about her latest exhibition.

Milano Art Guide

On the occasion of the artist’s solo show in Milan, Nataliya Chernakova talked to curator Maud Greppi about her latest exhibition.

Maud Greppi: So, it’s about time we talk about how it all began and where we are now.

Nataliya Chernakova: Oh yes! I remember that friend of mine calling me at about 9pm telling you were at his place and that we knew each other and that we must have an ice cream and champagne dinner that evening. Therefore we had that dinner at his and that’s pretty much it!

MG: Wasn’t it the first time we spoke about SIDERA too?

NC: Exactly! You told about the idea of having a travelling project space to collaborate with emergent artists and the connection was immediate.

MG: Yes! And then we went to your place to look at the works you had there at the time.

NC: Wasn’t too many as I had yet to move my studio from Venice to Milan.

MG: And I think we have already looked at the watercolors then, haven’t we?

NC: Oh true! As these works I started few months before leaving Milan back in 2018, so I had them here. And I kind of like this coincidence of those works being in my first show here as I am back in town.

Installation view of the exhibition at Podbielski Contemporary, the first of the Sidera project by Maud Greppi.

MG: Hence both the writings and the kiss watercolors?

NC: Exactly, I started both parts of the series on the same night in April 2018, after meeting someone, or better after looking at someone I already knew differently.  So, one part is a sort of a diary – where I wrote down every thought I had regarding this person and the situation. Then I would cancel it so it deformed the pigment, still leaving the trace of the initial writing, so that only the vague shades remain obscuring the reading. Interestingly these are very connected with timing – just like that whole situation in general. I had to give it just enough time to absorb yet to be able to wash it and blur it. 

MG: And the other part? The one that gave the title to the show?

NC: Oh that one is the graphic interpretation of the kiss: there are two profiles: noses, then lips that then become one and unveil what’s going on inside: the tongues that are melted together and then become the chins, going to the outside again. 

MG: It feels like it’s a lot of room for a chance in these works?

NC: It is an amalgamation of loosing the control over it and trying to get the control back. Hence the gesture is perfectly decided by me, but then the amount of water I pour makes it go wild, again very much mimicking the situation I was going through. I think I like the idea my friend recently shared about it: it gives you an idea of the kiss without actually representing it. 

MG: This is actually true to most of your works!

NC: Yes, right? As if there was always a question mark in them. 

MG: So true… And now we have the neon!…

NC: I guess that the works in the second room are kind of more explicit – they are slightly later stage of the development of the project and of the emotion. 

MG: The neon with all it’s sensuality and the bright red and the light itself gives that impression of a deep desire. Besides, in the neon the line is very pure, almost ascetic. 

NC: Interesting…

MG: Now the ready-made…

(both laughing)

NC: The work is from this year. I basically welded two silencer parts of the KTM motorcycle and crowned both end pipes with octopus tentacle shaped dildos. The movement of the silencer is exactly the same as in the drawings… which is fun and mysterious. Moreover, the motorcycle is fast thus sexy, yet dangerous with makes it even more attractive. 

MG: I love the blue of the dildos! 

NC: Haha! Thank you, I guess it’s less revealing of the purpose as pink would’ve been, for example. 

MG: True.

NC: We had fun here after all! Now, how about your future projects and SIDERA? What’s on your mind? 

MG: Oh we are preparing something interesting for the future months. The nice thing is that I want to unite the territory with the people involved in the project. As in A plus B gives you a sum which is more than just that. What I want to create is the community around the spaces we are going to work with and seeing how the process shapes itself in the environment it encounters. It is always a surprise!  


The Kiss We Didn’t Have (2021) part of the first Sidera exhibition at the Podbielski Gallery.

NC: Guess it also opens the whole world of collaboration with people from that place and seeing it from also their perspective.

MG: Yes! 

NC: What about the name? The sound is beautiful! 

MG: Oh that’s another story. Sidera to me has a few points of interest. First, it’s literal meaning in Latin is stars. Second, it has the same root connected to the word desire. Desire instead comes from an idea of something which is missing, therefore rises the need to cover this lack, this emptiness. Desire is not about a single star, but about a collection of stars. Why? The ancients ideally connected the stars in the sky to form many constellations. And these, for instance, were necessary not only for orientation in the sea, but also on an existential level. In this project we want to find ways to fill what’s missing through art. Another interesting aspect that arises from the word sidera is the constantly evolving path that is built by the constellations, which aim to form a map of collaborations, passions and the desire to build and unite.

NC: Oh such a great metaphor for the present…

MG: The roots are now pretty much absent, and being replaced by a constant fluidity. All is in flux. And I want to navigate this flux, going deeper, yet with the flow.

NC: So not inserting obstacles but rather using the power of the flow?

MG: Yes, this going with it rather than against will multiply powers.