18 August, 2009 - 25 August, 2009

Vika Begalska works and lives in Moscow, Maaike Leyn in Belgium but being very connected with Russian culture. In this exhibition Vika Begalska will show video work and Maaike Leyn drawings. Their work questions different subclasses in Russian society and their every day struggle to survive, to obtain dignity in a ruthless and harsh reality, a “dog-eat-dog” society in which the most powerful succeeds, regardless of ethical criteria, a society in which “The lord of the rats” rules. Vika Begalska’s video borrows this title taken from Ernst Hoffmanns fairytale “The Nutcracker and the Mouseking”. In Begalska’s video the Mouseking is a rat, acting on the Red Square.Both artists are especially interested in those classes which don’t fit in a competitive, merciless mass system. People who deviate from the desired norm are seen as a threat, especially when it comes to people with another ethnical background.In the video “Welcome” Vika Begalska presents a man investigating an intimidated woman (the artist herself) by enforcing her questions such as “How old are you?”, “Where do you live?”, “Do you believe in God?”. She feels too oppressed to fulfill his expectations. It’s a parody on the Russian state and how it welcomes people arriving from different places.Not only ethnical “others” are seen as an annoying bacterium in a society which cannot deal with diversity, but also those which are not strong enough to compete, such as elderly people. There is no place for weakness. Maaike Leyn especially shows old people, “babushki i dedushki” (grandmothers and grantfathers), who worked hard all their life, but lost the ground under their feet once the communistic system disappeared. Maaike was shocked when she arrived to Russia and saw how elderly people were selling small vegetables next to the metro in order to survive. Under forced circumstances these people have to drew off to places far away, to the countryside and disappear from the cities. Maaike Leyn draws forgotten inhabitants in the villages. Her drawings can be seen as homage to the elderly people. She draws elder women as big and strong monuments – to give them the respect and attention they deserve. Their body is marked life and hard work on the field: wrinkles well filled bodies wrapped in flower dresses. Maaike Leyn shows another kind of female beauty, a beauty of which we fear to face as it has the signs of degeneration.Concept of the exhibition by Vika Begalska and Maaike Leyn