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Katja Novitskova

The Estonian artist bringing cute online animals and post-human dystopia to The Venice Biennale

There was a time when Katja Novitskova’s installations were populated with adorable animals sharing intimate moments. Images found online of cats, dolphins and exotic birds would be blown up into larger-than-life cutouts. For the Estonia Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, her work has taken an altogether darker turn, plunging the audience into a dystopian world, devoid of humans and ruled instead by a new species of animal-machine hybrids resembling Frankenstein’s creatures. 

Yet the artist has always been driven by a speculation about the future, particularly regarding technology and the environment. Having started her career as a curator, and in 2010 releasing the Post-Internet Survival Guide, her work also revolves around the longevity not only of animals but their afterlives in the digital sphere. In a past interview, Novitskova revealed that she would spend anywhere from four to six hours searching the web. The images she finds go through a series of incarnations but eventually find their way back online in the form of installation photos. Existence, whether IRL or online, is precarious. The title of Novitskova’s showcase at Venice, If Only You Could See What I’ve Seen with Your Eyes, a homage to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), suggests that reality is in the eye of the beholder.

Text: Liza Premiyak

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