Is digital real? And how real are things which are not communicated digitally? The perennial ambiguity of living and capturing the real runs deep through the works of St Petersburg-born artist Egor Kraft. “I look for ways to produce work which sits on the boundaries between reality and its misrepresentation, exploring reality’s perversion and its consequences,” he states on his website. Kraft’s bold artistic experiments raise questions of time, chaos and our reaction to these. In his work, the historic and the contemporary collide: such as his URL stone, where factual statements are challenged and deconstructed.
Kraft works in various genres ranging from neon text installations (the most famous of which was exhibited on the wall of Taiga, St Petersburg’s first creative cluster, recently closed down to allow room for a commercial immersive theatre) to sculpture, mural art, digital products (such as the New now app) and public interventions, such as Kickback. In Kickback, he ironises the weakness of the kind of text so often displayed carefree on billboards, clothes and walls. As part of the project he bought one of H&M’s basic white T-shirts, printed it with “Please, ignore the text here — keep on shopping”, and returned it to the H&M shop in St Petersburg the next day, with the new text not being noticed by stuff, as if it had always been there.
Another take on people’s flimsy perceptions of the real and the viral power of media is his online intervention “The New Colour” — a website for a faux American company (ACI) that announces the discovery of a new colour with fake news, interviews and videos; the stunt attracted hundreds of visitors who later tried to reach out to the company to get samples (the emails Kraft received can be found in the eponymous book printed in 2015, available at London’s Calvert 22 Bookshop). Kraft is currently living between Moscow, Berlin, St Petersburg and Vienna, where he continues to create modern artefacts exploring virtuality and what may lay beyond it.