born in Moscow, 1971


Since 1988 to 1991 studied classical paintings at art school in Moscow (diploma teacher of arts) following a two years period at the Surikov Moscow Art Academy (1993-1995). After moving to Switzerland in 1996 she attended media art studies classes at F+F Art School, Zurich. In 1998, returned in Moscow and entered Institute for Contemporary Arts. She then moved in Berlin for the next five years (2001-2005) Graduated from UdK Berlin (University of Arts), class of Prof. Rebecca Horn (diploma of multimedia artist, 2003) In 2001 received travel grant of Goethe Institute for participation to a New Media Art seminar (Karlsruhe, Saint-Augustin, Linz, Berlin, and Cologne)

In 2002, she founded theater of Homeless Youth where worked with unprofessional actors and directed experimental story-telling pieces (live shows at Berliner Festspiele, 2003)

She started a publishing intiative supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung in 2006 (Stone Milk. Urban female newspaper) Amongst her many grants and residences worldwide there are Academy Schloss Solitude, Stutgart (2002); Kuenstlerhaus Boswil, Switzerland (2004); MAK Schindler Haus, LA, USA (2005-2006); Kuenstlerhaus Schlieren, Zurich (2006); Centre Internationale des Recoletts, Paris (2007), Innovation prize, Russian state (2007); Cite Innternationale des Arts, Paris (2007)

She was the visiting professor at Lyon Art Academy and Finnish Academy of Fine Arts (2008). Of most recent, she spent two months at Analix-Forever gallery artist-in-residence in Geneve

Personal website



Elena Kovylina's newest series is dedicated to the phenomenon of modern Russian postimperial / totalitarian spirit. This is taken not only as condition of daily life that spread allover but that remains elusive, although one could recognize it's massive impact on politics and even on artistic circle condition.

In the era of political censorship (which one in succession?) when terrible things of injustice are often to happen in life, Kovylina would rather appeal to kind of allegory language than to that one of direct assertions. According to her, aesthetics of geometrical abstraction contains violence and links towards totalitarianism of a sort.


Hundred years back, in the age of chaos, Otto Dix documented life of deformed by means of figurative paintings, whereas Wassily Kandinsky created abstract compositions naming them alike Premonition of civil war. This is extremely important to be able to find this gesture of premonition in abstractionism.

A series of abstract compositions consisting of colored bars of wood (Russia is certainly known an immense timber resource) under subtitle Russia 1, Russia 2, and the like will be presented.


Elena Kovylina’s Equlaity video piece is a brutal satire on democracy in Russian society today. The video-installation “Egalite” creates a clear image of the many double standards in post-Soviet society, developing the idea of the “Procrustean bed,” that is, a norm that will cause the individual unavoidable pain when he or she tries to fit in. The real difference is that today, you don’t “try to fit in:” instead, participation in contemporary society is an inevitability that has become impossible to avoid. Deliberate social security, the declaration of rights and freedoms, and other slogans and formulas characteristic of Russian society are expressed with visual simplicity, and one might even say that they have gained a human face. But if “egalite” is a century-long project that has continued in Europe since the Enlightenment, its Russian version is very different after the fall of the Soviet Union. Illusory financial equality has been replaced with a so-called civic equality that has become no less utopian than its Soviet counterpart.

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artists/elena_kovylina.txt · Last modified: 17. 05 2013 16:11:55 (external edit)
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