The three-dimensional space as both container and carrier of the message has always been a key factor in Irina Nakhova’s art. In the first half of the 1980s, well before the wind of change of perestroika when contemporary art practices in Russia were still forcibly kept away from the wider public and confined to the underground semi-clandestinity, Nakhova emptied her studio and turned it into temporary Rooms for free thinking and new visual perspectives.
“Choice” is a three-dimensional silk-print diptych consisting of one space – a prison cell – seen according two opposite perspectives: that of the prison guard and that of the prisoner. It is a straightforward (candid and honest) answer to the question “what is the most important message that an artist can send to his/her viewers today?”:
Having a choice is what characterizes people living in a free world. How one lives his/her own life within and outside the rules of today’s society is a personal choice. One can choose if he/she wants to be the prison guard or the prisoner. Or maybe, often we are both at the same time. In the work, as a reminder of the complexities of the self, the artist wears the masks of both roles. She looks straight at the opening in the iron door inviting the viewer to enter her game of presence/absence, but, most importantly, to find an answer to the question: who is looking at whom?