When I was thinking aboutmy performance, I realized that I have always been concerned with the fact that once you’ve done something, it is impossible to go back and undo it. For example, take a plate. Once you break it, you can’t go back and change anything. It’s already irreversibly broken. So I came up with an idea for my performance: break a plate, using fake blood; kiss the chips and glue them together. I called this work “Sorry, I won’t do it again,” and I filmed in autumn 2016. A little later, I decided to prepare a present for one of my friends. When I was at a party, I took another plate, broke it, cut my finger with a kitchen knife and glued it back together with my blood. The plate looked so good in the end that I began to make such plates for my friends. I repurposed the original form of my idea to create “Happiness” – because in Russian, this word means to be part of a whole. I believe that we can be happy only when all the pieces come together. Everyone and everything is a part of something whole.
Photographer: Igor Afriyan
Then I decided to create a persona and live as if I were this person for a couple of months – and document the process. I decided to be a daughter of Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, even though he never had children of his own, and created the myth around this personality who never existed. Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro used to perform the persona of Marilyn Monroe – and not only her – while striking for gay rights in Russia. He used his body as a canvas and painted different characters on his face. He had many likenesses but he remained himself. And he did it with lightness and joy. He was and still is a gay icon in Russia. ” Recently, she learned something that changed her life. She was brought up by her stepfather, but one year ago she found out about her biological father. He was a joyful and brave artist, but unfortunately, she couldn’t see him – because he died three years ago.”
… ”Before the realization of being an unknown daughter of a famous artist, Masha had an idle life. She didn’t study and didn’t work;, She couldn’t decide who she was. She went to parties and entertained people, impersonating to Madonna. But she was waiting for something to change her life. And when she found out about her father, she understood – that she’s an artist, too.”
In the end the project didn’t work out. However, I was inspired by Vladislav Monroe and immersed into his life. I have done a research on him and began wearing the wig everywhere and introduced me as Masha. Vlad’s mother really waited a daughter who she was going to name Masha, but as result she got a son, Vladislav.
Then I went to Brazil where Masha was re-born. She became a gay character very much like her father. She made a performance there with an amazing artist Arthur Scovino. “Yemoja” I liked the fact that I was now blonde and wearing a wig, so different from what I usually look like. At some point I realized that it was more interested to be Masha than to be myself. I was really concerned about her life, and wanted her to build a career, become a great artist, apply to academy of Art in Vienna. I would like Masha to be a part of the course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. I see it as a continuation of the story that evolves at several levels employing myself as Alina, and adopted persona that lives in Alina’s body. Study of performance as a profound long-durational act, performance itself.
But what did Alina want? Alina also wanted to go to Vienna, to do performance art. But she was missing something being in a theatre. She has always wanted more, more than being only an actress. She wants to do something independently, without any limits.
Shorty before I came up with Masha’s character, I saw Linda Montano’s work at the performance art week in Venice. It was a video performance called “Mitchell’s Death”. Mitchell’s Death mourns the death of Montano’s ex-husband. Every detail of her story, from the telephone call announcing the tragedy, to visiting the body, is chanted by Montano as her face, pierced by acupuncture needles. MThe chanting is reminiscent of Buddhist texts, while the needles signify the pain that is necessary for healing and understanding.
So Masha decided to do a similar performance about her father Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe. I wrote a detailed story about how she found out about her father and really believed in it. I repeated my story like Linda M. on the camera with acupuncture needles in my face.
Masha learned that he was her father when she was 27 years old and also at that moment she found he had already died. This fact had divided her life into before and after. She was washing dishes when her mom told her the whole story. She broke a plate and cut her fingers. She was watching the blood leaking out and tried to calm herself down.
Masha had performed this scene four times and managed to convince the audience that her story was true. In the morning of the first performance I found a dove under the graffiti of Marilyn Monroe at the ‘Mosfilm’ Studio. I fell in love with her and took her home. She was so exhausted, she couldn’t fly.
All day before the performance I felt so bad, my whole body was hurting, my stomach and my head were aching. I was sitting before the camera for hours and it all seemed like one moment. And I didn’t want it to finish. My face was numb because of the needles in my face but it was better than seeing people. I felt like the dove I found, I couldn’t fly. After the performance it took me a long time till I started feeling better.
When I came home, I saw the dove and realized it was time I said good-bye to Masha. It was clear that it was more than I could bear.
In the morning a doctor came and took Maria Bonita Chikonna Monroe (the name I gave to the dove). She was ill, she refused to eat and I hoped the doctor could rescue her. I wanted her to fight for her life.
While Bonita was in a bird’s hospital I had to prepare for the evening because 27 plates were waiting to be broken. I had to break them one by one and glue them with my blood all evening suffering from the death of a non-existing father. I was depressed. My friend asked me what the matter was but I couldn’t explain. I just knew that it all was meaningless and that I was confused. I guess I was aware of it on some level before, but made excuses for myself, pretending this was art. But these excuses made me even more confused. It was all an act but my 100% belief in a given circumstances by Stanislavsky can make everything real. And it bothered me. I was dead and empty inside. I have put too much energy into nothing. I put my heart and soul into it. But at the end it was all bullshit. My body resisted it. My nature rebelled against anything fake and I didn’t want to be a part of it.
So I set up a camera, and shouted about how I felt and filmed it. I broke the plates and cried. I broke the plates and thought about how I betrayed myself: instead of finding myself I lost myself in the concept.
But I had to finish that story. I put a wig on and continued my act. I immediately felt better and lighter. I came to Masha and she helped me to calm down and concentrate. I became Masha to become Alina again. The idea of an apology and gluing broken pieces together turned into Masha’s sobbing. People thought she is a real daughter of Vlad Monroe, they liked it because it seemed true or they just passed by and understood nothing. I don’t know what they were thinking. What I know is that art is not a game. For me.
The plates are glued.
The dove died.
I buried her at the monastery cemetery.
Now I want to begin a new performance which will I want to call “STOP WITH THE BULLSHIT YOU CALL ART” but whether I do it is still a question.