Andrea Stanislav

Artist's Statement

In my hybrid practice of sculpture, installation, video, and public art, I explore the architecture of empire. My work questions the systems built on human capital, their hegemonic structure. Strongly influenced by the rise and fall of bygone kingdoms, I am equally consumed by ideas of contemporary power—from American exceptionalism to the city of Dubai, the embodiment of the manifest destiny of global capital. Oftentimes darkly humorous, my work is ultimately a critique of the ancient symbols, the origin myths of civilization. The pastimes and playthings of power..

Formally, I exploit the motifs of authority. Using symbolic structures, such as obelisks, columns, or large, rough-hewn boulders, I invoke monumentality. But, in my manipulation of these traditional monoliths, I disrupt their signal. I want my work to upend the myths they embody, to question the reverence that the forms inspire. Sometimes I achieve this compositionally, by arranging the objects irreverently or confrontationally, as in River to Infinity. Other times, I alter their surfaces. I play with finishes that transform the usually stoic and austere into something conspicuously glossy, even ostentatious. Mirrored surfaces are of particular interest. They reflect, they implicate, they bring the viewer into the work. The mirror is the embodiment of its own allure—the trap that ensnares the viewer, indicted by his own reflection. You can not see the work of the empire without seeing yourself in it..

Materially, my work is diverse. From rhinestones and resin to sound and video, I want the viewer’s experience to be completely immersive. I enjoy the controlled environment of the gallery, but I relish the unpredictability of the public space, one where the work can be encountered incidentally, as with my public video intervention Nightmare on the Neva, in which a white horse appears to gallop unassisted on the waters of the river in St. Petersburg, Russia. Animals frequently wind their way into my work. Whether it’s a taxidermied wolf precariously balancing a Brancusi column (modernity in its very mouth); or the peacock, a creature of almost excessive beauty, symbolizing luxurious, royal diversion. It’s the animal interlocutor. The natural world puncturing the solid, modern form. A piercing of speech. An interruption of the old ways, the old modes of existence. I use both animals and objects as effigies. Sometimes they’re gilded into oblivion; other times, they’re not just burned but obliterated..

Empires rely on these symbols to embody ideals but also to signify and maintain status—they give hope and they take it away. The source of inspiration becomes a stand-in for dark knowledge. A gesture toward the sublime, invoking a terrifying beauty. In employing these modes of seduction in my work, I simultaneously erode and exploit the ideals of empire..