Vienna based artist Iv Toshain has been invited by international curator Stephan Stoyanov to stage her first Museum solo exhibition at MOMA – Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art in Tbilisi, Georgia from 10.7 – 10. 9. 2021.

The exhibition titled “NULLITY IS THE ONLY REVOLT” will showcase a new 4,3 x 6 x 20 meters long site-specific installation by the artist, who dwelled on her personal history during the pandemic between Austria, Bulgaria and the European Union. 

The sculpture points out issues as freedom, pandemic, democracy, death, life, oppression and equality today.

The site-specific main exhibit consists of three kilometers of closely spaced aluminum chains with guillotines at the end and is at once reminiscent a wall, a curtain (the Iron Curtain), a wave, a carpet and flags.  

Flags are symbolic tools that reflect the essential foundations of state ideology, doctrines, concepts, ideals, values and components of the political system. They are usually made of textile and always stand proud and steady. But when the flags made of chains reach the floor of the exhibition hall, they immediately turn into an allegory of a carpet measuring 6 x 15 meters, woven from aluminium shackles, their colours fading towards the end. Thus, the rug these chains form on the floor becomes a symbolic instrument of constraint and liberation. The cutting flag installation not only criticizes the violation of democratic rights veiled behind the thick curtains of the state apparatus. but also involves in feministic comment about the role of the typical female practices of past and present today.

Iv Toshain spent significant part of the pandemic lockdown of 2020 in her native country Bulgaria and commented:

“I experienced the “lockdown” in my former home country Bulgaria…. Now I am going to exhibit the Bulgarian flag, the Austrian and the EU flag (all part of my history) consisting of chains. At the end of each flag there is a high-glossy, sharp guillotine made of stainless steel. Both the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on fundamental human rights by the state constitute a profound questioning of the liberal subject – the individual.”

Further works on display in the exhibition will include another giant metal sculpture whose shape resembles the shape of a corona virus and raises questions of power shifts, democracy and the Pandemia. It is a morning star symbolising the globe with its continents pierced by 21 spikes. “NOMOS BASILEUS” (the law is the king) is written in neon letters. Here the artist refers to a text on the deeds of Hercules by the poet Pindar (518-446 BC). The words NOMOS, greek for “law” and BASILEUS – “the king”, point to the law and violence, the historical and present constant of war. These words constitute a formula for the very focal point bequeathed to Western political thinking – in democracy the law rules. However, if one walks around the morning star, NOMOS BASILEUS becomes BASILEUS NOMOS , hence “the king is the law”. This particular work has already been exhibited in Belvedere Museum in Vienna in 2015 and in Lentos Museum in Linz in 2017. This will be the first time the sculpture will be exhibited abroad.

Along with the above mentioned works, the exhibition will include two major video works as well a brand new neon piece. The two channel-video installation depict military parades in different countries. Despite the latitude and nationality of each parade both point out to the passionate and hypnotic propaganda of war while wrapped behind beautiful clothes and young people with rhythmic, abstract-mechanical movements. This hyper realism brings them closer to Pop culture than to the real meaning they are meant to evoke.

Iv Toshain has named the exhibition after her newest slogan “NULLITY IS THE ONLY REVOLT”, as writing holds an important role in her work. 

Her neon signs are haiku statements and represent the artist’s abstract idea of the world. As a guiding star, another large neon slogan flicker uncertainly, trying to stay and not to fade away. It states: “I’m taking out my own freedom for the art to live it like it’s own”.

Iv Toshain’s artistic practice spans different media: performance, film, installation, sculpture, painting and drawing and investigates the relationship between power, gender, space, control, surveillance, language and architecture. Mornings stars, patterns, soldiers, weapons, text – these are all subjects oh her inspiration and work. This is the very first comprehensive survey of Iv Toshain complex and yet very rich artistic ouevre presented at a major institution abroad.

Stephan Stoyanov, Curator

Mit freundlicher Unterstützung des