Roman Korovin’s exhibition at Hippolyte consists of two separate parts, divided into two exhibition rooms. In the main gallery, the titular series Lives and Deaths, utilises a measure of absurdity in approaching the existential topic of life and death and their cyclical processes as framed by those “first” and “last” events. The second part, My Family Photo Album, in Hippolyte Studio, presents images that remind us of the snapshots from the, previously, commonly made family albums—where the important and precious moments were recorded over the course of one’s life.
The Lives and Deaths part of the exhibition deals with storylines of protagonists who go about their daily lives, and occasionally also their deaths. One of the main storylines is about a man named Kaspars, who, after committing suicide, ends up on “the other side”. However, that side turns out to be not that different from “this side”, maybe just a little more magical, but still quite the same. As Korovin’s other characters, Zane, Zinaida, Olga, and Pekka, go about their ordinary tasks with backaches, with cars stolen and found, raking leaves in the autumn, and gathering birch sap in the spring, their lives and deaths revolve around mundane things and events. They have distinct identities and personal histories, but simultaneously the characters might be anyone and vice versa.
In My Family Photo Album, the fictional photo album contains images from an imaginary child’s standpoint, who recounts birth, love, loss, and death. For the child, pre-life, life, and afterlife are not distinctive segments, but a singular journey all worthy of recording into the album. However, the images do not feature human protagonists but challenge the viewer with a further leap of imaginings. In this family album, a pillow may as well be a child, the light pole – a father, the cardboard box – a car, and chunks of snow in the bushes – distant relatives that have arrived for a visit.
Photography as a medium plays a crucial role in Roman Korovin’s exhibition at Hippolyte. His works ask us to, for a moment, put aside the usual way of reading photography as a narrative tool. He uses the medium’s ability to shift between the real and the constructed to create fictional worlds and enables them to be perceived as real. In the Lives and Deaths part, amongst the symmetry and linear readings from left to right or from beginning to end, a change of direction can alter the meaning, enabling one thing to turn into another—creating new imagery, allegories, and symbolism. With My Family Photo Album, Korovin builds a set of characters with inanimate objects, suggesting a new system and relation towards objects that tell different stories and evoke fluctuating emotions about what we as humans are conditioned to feel particular about. With these works, Korovin’s exhibition suggests that the world around us is indeed magical, and the things we imagine may as well be real.
Roman Korovin is a visual artist currently based in Riga, Latvia. He uses various media in his practice, including painting, photography, video, in-situ drawing, scribbles, sculpture, and ready-mades—whatever helps him express the idea he wants to convey. Over his career, Roman Korovin has held ten solo shows in Latvia and exhibited extensively in group shows in Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, the Netherlands, and the USA. Lives and Deaths is his first solo exhibition outside of Latvia, and the first time his works are seen in Helsinki. He currently collaborates with the gallery Māksla XO in Riga, where he held his previous solo show Road Between a Pine Tree and a Bush in 2020. Lately, his works have also been included in the Copenhagen Photo Festival, Denmark (2020), and the Rotterdam Photo Festival in the Netherlands (2020).
image: Roman Korovin, Birth from series “Zane’s Death Day”, 2016
Lives and Deaths
6 – 29 August 2021
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte & Hippolyte Studio
Open: Tue–Fri 12–17, Sat–Sun 12–16