The Fourth Height and Urs Bigler: The Crown at Erarta Galleries, London

Founded in Moscow in 1992, The Fourth Height (Dina Kim, Katya Kameneva and Gala Smirnskaya) are best known for their performative work that reflects mass culture through irony and fantasy and address post-war feminist issues. The collective’s latest exhibition The Crown, which opens this Friday at Erarta Galleries, London, sees the group working alongside renowned Swiss photographer Urs Bigler, to create a series of unique photographic images that question and examine 21st century geopolitics within the context of the Soviet past the Capitalist present.

The Crown continues Petr Iakovlevich Chaadaev and Nikolai Berdyaev’s questioning of the East-West dilemma. Using the iconography of fashion photography and referencing Russia’s rich folkloric tradition, The Fourth Height’s witty and sophisticated photographs reflect a reluctance to depict Russia as a hybrid of the West and, yet equally uncomfortable presenting Russia as simply the middle ground between these two great powers. However, the artists are not simply engaged in a geopolitical debate, they are equally on a quest to define a new identity for Russia. Although this quest for national identity is by no means a uniquely contemporary pursuit, as evidenced by the works of Berdyaev and Chaadaev before him, The Fourth Height position their images in what is definitely a post-Soviet reality. With irony and political correctness in tenuous balance, the photographs in The Crown present a clear message and calling for Russia: Bigger than both West and East, but culturally and historically closer to the West, yet with a communist connection to the East.

The Fourth Height & Urs Bigler: The Crown, 20 July until 31 August. Erarta Galleries, 8 Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8DN.

1. Teatime
2. Song of Homeland
3. Vegan
4. Trinity
Courtesy Erarta Galleries