Polina Medvedeva explores practices and ways of being often considered ‘informal’ or ‘non-conformist’, such as shadow economies and subcultural/communal care practices. Yet, at close sight, the protagonists Medvedeva portrays, and who in turn become involved with her artistic process, complicate the prescriptive narratives attached to their livelihoods. Instead, their stories elaborate on how lived experience does not fit into rigid categories of inside/outside, belonging/exclusion, formality/informality. Improvised, passed through generations as oral histories, smuggled in through migration, these everyday support mechanisms, survival techniques, and tactics of civil disobedience are revealed as situated at the core of today’s global economy. Her work merges documentary filmmaking, AV performance, and installation, inviting the viewer to become immersed into her observations. Medvedeva’s pieces embrace the very contradictions she encountered while growing up between Russia and the Netherlands, between two distinct political and economic systems. Her body of work speaks of the sensibilities one has to develop when finding a way in-between and the (im)possibilities of existing within while being against systems of oppression.
Medvedeva was brought up on Latin-American telenovelas dubbed in Russian.
Medvedeva’s work was selected for de Gouden Kalf competition of the Nederlands Film Festival, screened at VPRO, Eye on Palestine festival, IDFA Docs for Sale and exhibited at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels; Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem; Art Brussels; Rotterdam City Theatre; De Nieuwe Vide, Haarlem and CBK Groningen. Performances include Sonic Acts festival, Amsterdam; Lofoten International Art Festival, Svolvær; Brighton Festival, Brighton; Inversia Festival, Murmansk and A4, Bratislava. Medvedeva has been a guest tutor at Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam, ArtEZ Zwolle, Gerrit Rietveld Academie and is a tutor and lecturer at the Utrecht University of the Arts.
Text by Michaela Büsse